‘International exchange among researchers are a driver of innovation’

Why is international cooperation important for ERI stakeholders in Switzerland? Waseem Hussain from the ZHAW, Joëlle Comé from the Swiss Institute in Rome and Sylvian Fachard, Director of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece, provide answers.

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Waseem Hussain is head of ZHAW’s International Office. In his professional career, he has worked as a South Asia correspondent, managed an Indian-Swiss joint venture and been a guest lecturer at various Swiss higher education institutions. Together with Doris Hysek, Waseem Hussain is responsible for ZHAW's Leading House mandate. Photo: ZHAW

ZHAW has been the Leading House for South Asia and Iran since 2017. Between 2017-2020, ZHAW issued 10 calls for bilateral research and innovation proposals and funded around 130 bilateral cooperation projects.

How does your institution help to raise Switzerland’s international profile as a location for education, research and innovation?
Waseem Hussain: ZHAW has a strong international network and is very active in its international relations. Many of our researchers and lecturers interact on practically a daily basis with colleagues from often renowned institutions in other countries, both in close proximity and further away from Swiss national borders. ZHAW researchers and lecturers are involved in cross-border development of syllabuses, transnational projects and innovation activities. As a leading house, we put our experience and networks at the service of Swiss higher education institutions.

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Visit of an Iranian scientific delegation to the ZHAW School of Engineering, organised by the Leading House South Asia and Iran. Photo: ZHAW

How important is international research cooperation in your opinion?
The different perspectives, underlying conditions and working methods all have a positive impact on the knowledge gained as well as on research findings. I clearly see the international exchange among researchers as a driver of innovation.

SERI recently renewed its funding allocation for your mandate in 2021. What are your plans for the next four years?
Our mandate covers nine countries. We have been working closely with India and Iran for a long time, and we want to steadily expand our cooperation initiatives with local partners in the coming years. We also intend to establish similar partnership dynamics with two other countries. At the same time, we are aligning our funding instruments and administrative processes even more closely with the needs of researchers in Switzerland.

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Joëlle Comé has been Director of the Swiss Institute in Rome since 2016. After obtaining her Master's degree in cinema from the Institut national supérieur des arts du spectacle et des techniques de diffusion (INSAS) film school in Brussels, she worked for. Photo: Davide Palmieri

As a research institute, the Swiss Institute in Rome offers a rich programme of activities and a wide range of opportunities for exchange and individual research. The transdisciplinary residency programme, for example, brings outstanding young Swiss researchers into contact with the Italian research community and helps outstanding researchers to broaden their international network.

How does your institution help to raise Switzerland’s international profile as a location for education, research and innovation?
Joëlle Comé: The Swiss Institute in Rome serves a truly interdisciplinary platform, facilitating contacts between Swiss and Italian researchers and institutions. In addition to providing an Italian and European immersion experience, the Swiss Institute in Rome offers residents privileged access to a unique international network of national and international institutions based in Rome that pursue research in the humanities. The Swiss Institute in Rome also fosters interaction through international panels at seminars and conferences.

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The Digital Sounds conference at the Swiss Institute in Rome was held in collaboration with the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Claude Nobs Foundation and with the support of the French Institute in Italy. Photo: ISR

How important is international research cooperation in your opinion?
It is absolutely essential in all arts and science disciplines. Our residents benefit from international stimulus, which encourages innovation. After all, research spans far beyond national borders and concerns, covering areas that can only be addressed through international cooperation (e.g. climate change or pandemics). To contribute to this global discourse and have an impact on the future, our activities rely on partnerships and extensive cooperation activities.

SERI recently renewed its funding allocation for your mandate in 2021. What are your plans for the next four years?
Whether it is in Rome, Milan, Palermo or Venice, we intend to further expand our network in Italy. We also intend to launch a multi-year project to help universities to become involved in our summer schools. In addition, we will work to promote sustainability as a value and as a recurrent theme in our programmes. And finally, we are working on a digital library and archive as well as Open Access publications to take us further along in the digital transformation.

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Sylvian Fachard is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and will take over as Director of the ESAG on 1 June 2021. After completing his thesis at UNIL, he spent part of his career in the USA (Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, Brown University, American School of Classical Studies).

Since 1964, the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (ESAG) has been exploring the ancient city of Eretria on the island of Evia and supporting other Swiss archaeological projects in Greece. Its aim is to develop cultural relations between the two countries, to encourage archaeological and historical research in Greece, to protect and enhance excavation sites and to support the training of young archaeologists. Recent excavations have brought to light the remains of the prestigious Eretrean Sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia at Amarynthos.

How does your institution help to raise Switzerland’s international profile as a location for education, research and innovation?
Sylvian Fachard: As the only permanent Swiss archaeological mission outside of Switzerland, the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (ESAG) helps students and researchers to sharpen their skills in an international context. By providing a solid scientific platform for work in Greece, the cradle of several ancient civilisations, the ESAG draws international expertise that directly benefits training and research activities in Switzerland, while showcasing the strengths of Swiss research abroad.

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3D reconstruction of the eastern portico of the Sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia at Amarynthos. Illustration: Oliver Bruderer, ZhDK

How important is international research cooperation in your opinion?
It is fundamental. Our researchers benefit from a cooperation network that includes several major European and American universities that are active in the Mediterranean. Cooperation initiatives are omnipresent, not only in terms of archaeological research itself, but also in terms of the contribution made to experimental sciences and in the systematic use of digital technologies.

SERI recently renewed its funding allocation for your mandate in 2021. What are your plans for the next four years?
We are uniquely fortunate to be able to excavate a recently discovered large sanctuary at Amarynthos, on the island of Evia. With the help of our Greek colleagues, we are studying an exceptional site using the most modern archaeological and archaeometric methods - rarely used in the excavation of large Greek sanctuaries. This is an exciting project, which puts Swiss researchers at the forefront of research and serves as a springboard for the next generation of researchers in the Science of Antiquity.

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