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Monday, April 20, 2009

Research in Europe, 03.2009-the invasion of idiots

Today:
  1. Commissioner warns against 'research protectionism'
  2. OECD lashes out at university 'conservatism'
  3. EIT launches first call for proposal
  4. Parliament slams Spain over unchecked urbanisation
Quote of the day:"I'll tell you what-we have to abolish science and leave science fiction do the work-after all, it's so much easier to understand something in a novel, than in an article." Just read the second article and you'll find out what drove me so mad!

Commissioner warns against 'research protectionism'

26 March 2009

The development of the European Research Area (ERA) must be defended against nationalism if Europe is to have an efficient and cooperative research infrastructure, according to European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik.

At a research infrastructure conference in Prague yesterday (March 25), Potočnik said cooperation between member states on major projects is essential if the EU is to address the "fragmentation and duplication" of research, which has led to resources being wasted.

Referring to the free movement of knowledge as the "fifth freedom” of the EU – in addition to goods, people, services and capital – the commissioner said "the growing and developing ERA must be defended from research protectionism".

Potočnik acknowledged that research infrastructure is complex and expensive, saying it can be mutually beneficial for member states to invest jointly in major long-term projects as these are often "simply beyond the reach of one region, one nation or even one continent".

He pledged to put in place a legal framework for research infrastructure which would allow faster construction and more efficient operation.

Potočnik highlighted a number of examples of cooperation, including the new International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Portugal, which is a shared project between Portugal and Spain. Both countries will benefit from any innovations in nanomedicines and nanomachines that are produced at the institute. source

My comment: Mmm, I don't think there is a great deal of nationalism in Research (except in Russia, probably). Research just can't function this way, because we rely too much on collaborations-simply there are not enough specialists in every field in one country, to get the work done. So I don't think we're so endangered, but then, it wouldn't hurt to give some encouragement and publicity to the good projects. And the truth is that most installation modern science needs are really quite expensive, so one country can never build it in not-war time.

OECD lashes out at university 'conservatism'

31 March 2009

Traditional university faculties are too conservative and are standing in the way of progress, as Europe's education system struggles to become more innovative, according to the head of the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation.

Dirk Van Damme said the current system of dividing knowledge into faculties should be broken up if Europe is to move to a new education system capable of equipping students with critical skills.

"We should abolish faculties in universities. Faculties are the most conservative bulwarks against change. Europe must move to a radically different trans-disciplinary approach. Most of the interesting things happen on the boundaries of the discipline," he said.

Speaking at a European Policy Centre debate entitled 'Beyond chalk and talk: Creativity in the classroom', which is part of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, Van Damme said Europe's economic and social progress is due to the quality of its educational system.

"Compared to Japan and even China, European schools are much more innovative. Japan teaches hierarchy and respect, whereas European schools teach us to challenge convention."

However, he expressed concern that education ministries in the EU are attempting to "squeeze" ever-increasing amounts of information into curricula when a more balanced approach would be more beneficial.

He also stressed the importance of quality in education and teacher education, warning that the push towards greater innovation in education would result in mediocrity if greater emphasis is not placed on excellence. source

My comment: Oh, so hot subject for me. Now, let's start lashing out! I always wonder how people who have nothing to do with science stand up and tell us how to do science better! Does this make any sense? Not for me. What the hell means faculties must be abolished! Yes, the greatest stuff happen where disciplines meet, but that's because good specialists from 2 fields meet to do something cool. Had those people not have been specialists in their fields, nothing good would ever come out! When politicians will start asking scientists how science is done! No, we don't need physicists and biologists, we need physico-biology-chemistry-Sanscrit-Old Testament specialists. We have to abolish not only faculties, we have to abolish Universities too, because they are way to elitists, we have to abolish scientific language, because it's too hard to understand, we, of course, must abolish formulas, because they are so difficult to type and poor politicians can never read them without bunch of crazy scientists helping them. I'll tell you what-we have to abolish science and leave science fiction do the work-after all, it's so much easier to understand something in a novel, than in an article. Oh, I love science fiction. But some people have to understand science is not about ideas, nor about shiny stuff that they can sell. Science is about hard and quite dull work, lots of patience and devotion in order to get something out of nothing. And scientists need an environment in which to work. This environment are Universities, Institutes, Faculties, Joint Groups and ever other form of collaboration you figure! We need the stuff. I agree even in our University, there are too many departments in our Faculty and pure science gets drowned in bureaucracy, but that doesn't mean we have to join the Faculty of Letters! That's nonsense.

EIT launches first call for proposal

3 April 2009

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has invited applications for its first Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs). The move is designed to foster partnerships between business and academia, and should create new business for large companies, SMEs and start-ups.

The EIT said development of new partnerships between the higher education, research and business sectors will bring new technologies to market, and the successful candidates will benefit from a range of EU funding programmes and loans from the European Investment Bank. KICs will also be expected to attract funding from the private sector.

The first KICs will be selected by January 2010 and are expected to bring together researchers in the fields of climate change, energy efficiency and information society.

Successful proposals must demonstrate innovation, a high degree of integrated partnership and drive new interactions in the fields of technology, culture, business and design.

These priorities were identified two years ago, but it is not yet clear whether they will be dealt with in a particular order. source

My comment: That was just for your information. If you intend to send proposal to EIT that is :)

Parliament slams Spain over unchecked urbanisation

27 March 2009

Spain is not doing enough to protect communities and the environment from abuse by developers, constructors and local government involved in its property sector, the European Parliament said yesterday (26 March).

It suggested in a report that the European Union freeze 35.1 billion euros of aid funds earmarked for Spain in 2007-2013 until it rectifies the abuse.

"Local authorities have frequently given excessive powers to property developers and town planners at the expense of communities and residents of the area," said the report , presented by Green MEP Margrete Auken.

The report, which was approved by 349 votes to 110, calls on Spain to suspend all new real estate developments which do not guarantee respect for private property and the environment.

The document is the Parliament's third formal criticism of Spain's property sector, which Greenpeace said was burying its coastline under concrete at a rate of three soccer pitches a day in 2007.

Built-up areas up to 2 km (1.25 miles) inland from Spain's coastline grew by 22 percent between 2000 and 2005, twice as fast as between 1987 and 2000, according to sustainability observatory OSE, cited on Monday by newspaper El Pais.

Court cases involving councillors and mayors charged with illegally re-zoning land in lucrative deals with property developers regularly appear in Spanish national news. Spain's current recession, its worst in decades, has been aggravated by the collapse of a raging property boom. source

My comment: Oh, yeah! This is hardly a surprise and I sincerely hope they do freeze the money for Spain. And not because I don't like Spain-it's one of my favourite vacation spots. But everyone who has visited Spain's coast will see that it's all about concrete. There are no natural beaches, everything is artificial and made for profit. And while this isn't bad by default, it's killing off the Nature there and that's totally wrong. They are changing even the landscape, by using small mountains for construction material. Just go there and consider the situation for yourself. I didn't like what I saw and I definitely think that the EU should be equally strict when it comes to the Nature with all of its member-states, be it Romania or Spain.

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