U4Society Network.

The idea of institutes of higher education actively working together is something we hear about often, yet exclusively, in specific fields of research, wherein there may be a need to collaborate based on required expertise or available facilities, but the U4Society Network takes a different approach.

U4Society Network is a European University Network of Ghent University (Belgium), University of Göttingen (Germany), University of Groningen (Netherlands), University of Tartu (Estonia), and Uppsala University (Sweden).

By just identifying themselves as partners for common goals, they set themselves apart from the majority of universities in Europe, and in the world for that matter. Further than this, through their action they promote the importance of partnership through the variety of values and principles the European universities are based on (see below for more details). These values and principles are not just for show either – they bear results. Powerful results. The network continues to produce ground breaking research and international impact through their partnership and it is inspiring to see this, as partnerships like these are what SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals really refer to.

The first aim of the partnership is to provide a supportive platform for joint cooperative initiatives in the field of educationresearch and institutional management, as well as to offer a solid framework for cooperation as preferential partners in international projects and contexts.

The ambition of the U4Society Network is to strengthen the international position and visibility of the individual partner institutions through intensive cooperation.

The U4Society Network aims to broaden the partner universities’ educational offer, facilitate and enhance the U4Society students’ international experiences, strengthen the research output, and share knowledge  and pooling resources within the field of university management.

It further seeks to provide education based on the overarching European values and principles of human rights, openness, and democracy, actively promoting universities’ rights to autonomy, academic freedom, and sustainability, as well as strongly advocating the notion of European citizens.

U4Society Network

Sustainability is certainly one of the areas that the U4 Society Network focuses on and not just because of this, but also through their colourful fruit-bearing partnership, they embody SDG 4 Quality Education and one target in particular; ensuring that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

Another key feature, one that can often be taken for granted where it does exist, is the trust between the universities within the partnership and the open dialogue this facilitates between them. This trust is key to achieving true progress without the fear of losing out to a competitor, be it financially or as a matter of reputation. The network also prides itself on its unique governance shown in the diagram below, courtesy of the U4Society Network website. Each cluster is led by a particular university, but each institution is brought together as equals using the hub and spoke governance structure.

U4Society Network’s Governance Structure
Credit: u4network.eu

Learn more about the U4Society Network on their website and be inspired by the power of partnership!

Solar Cooling Initiative.

One of the shortcomings of the Millenium Development Goals, specifically goal 8 (To develop a global partnership) was that this lead to a problematic donor-recipient relationship for development.

Internation Solar Alliance Logo.
Photo Credit: isolaralliance.org

This post shares the partnership of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), based in India, and the University of Birmingham, driving progress for its Solar Cooling Initiative, where farmers in sun rich locations can use solar and solar hybrid energy to power chilled food distribution systems.

Shield from the Arms of University of Birmingham. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Birmingham

The result of powering chilled food distribution systems leads to more revenue that can be made out of the high volumes of produce, as this way less produce is perished during journies from farms to markets. However, a key highlight of this initiative is that the technology being used to power the distribution system is sustainable through its use of solar power and so is not burden on the environment. This initiative is also awesome as it simultaneously addresses 3 internationally agreed goals: the Paris Climate Agreement; the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol; and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As opposed to identifying a quick and easy solution to this problem, through investments in readily available non renewable energy to power the chilled food systems in these tropical countries, this initiative’s focus to resolve the problem has been coupled with sustainability – and this is what makes this initiative so great.


ISA and the univerity of Birmingham have demonstrated how problem solving on the planet today must consider the sustainability of the solutions and this sets the right precedent for all the problem solving that is yet to happen – and happen it must! This post recognises and thanks ISA and the university of Birmingham’s tangible progress being made towards UN’s SDG 7- Affordable and clean energy!


As well as the one goal this links in to, this initiative also demonstrates positive work toward SDG 17 – Partnerships to achieve the goal through the collobative efforts of Univeristy of Birmingham and ISA – and this is a big one as the lack of such partnership was one of the criticisms of MDG 8 previously. Great to see lessons learnt!

Please check out the article for more information, and also take a look at ISA’s website where you can learn more about this project.


Referenced News Article – Helping ‘Sun-Rich’ Farmers

ISA Website