Campus by the sea: European universities fly the flag in Kiel and focus on joint research

The SEA-EU European university alliance is setting standards for future transnational cooperation in research, teaching and knowledge transfer

  • Research: An international team is investigating greenhouse gases, microplastics and air quality in European coastal waters on the first SEA-EU research cruise, which will last several weeks.
  • Teaching: Establishing international study and training programmes aimed at over 150,000 students and researchers.
  • Knowledge transfer: Smart shipping is on the agenda at the Kiel Marketplace dialogue event – conducted for the first time on a cross-border basis.

Europe-wide cohesion, shared values and research into environmentally sustainable solutions: European university alliances are playing an increasingly important role in promoting cross-border networking, international education and research – this includes the European University of the Seas (SEA-EU). Under its banner nine universities all of them located at coastal sites, and among them Kiel University (CAU), have joined forces. From 30 May to 2 June 2022, Kiel University will host delegations from all of the SEA-EU partner universities. Together they form a pluri-ethnic, multilingual and transdisciplinary inter-university campus with more than 150,000 students and researchers. Simultaneously, the research catamaran Oceanograf will dock in Kiel on its scientific voyage – the first joint one by the SEA-EU partners.

Fruitful internationalisation and constructive cooperation

Initially represented by CAU’s Kiel Marine Science (KMS) priority research focus, today SEA-EU provides one of the most important international programmes at Kiel University. “CAU can look back on a tradition of more than 300 years in marine sciences and, as a fully-fledged university, integrates diverse inter- and transdisciplinary approaches in research, teaching and knowledge transfer. SEA-EU is a lighthouse project for us to further develop our profile at a European level and contributing via innovative mobility and cooperation projects to the vision of European university alliances,” says CAU President Simone Fulda. Close cooperation with European partners allows the cross-national development of technologies, concepts and models to be advanced. “In this way, we can make important contributions to solving the major societal, global challenges of our time. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aligned in our view with European values, are key in providing orientation here.”

40 days at sea, 4,000 nautical miles, more than 45 researchers

Never before, since the alliance’s establishment in 2019, have SEA-EU’s various partners embarked on a joint research trip. “The cruise is an impressive demonstration through marine science of how cross-national and cross-cultural research and education can function in the future,” explains Professor Nele Matz-Lück, Vice President for International Affairs, Young Researchers, Equality and Diversity at CAU. The Gdańsk research catamaran Oceanograf will be docking in Kiel from 1 to 4 June on its journey from Gdańsk to Cádiz.

More than 45 marine scientists from six countries are involved in the 40-day research cruise. The scientific agenda: a large-scale survey of microplastics and air quality in European coastal areas and examination of greenhouse gases in sediments.

On a day trip to the Eckernförde Bay, for example, the researchers will be measuring greenhouse gases in sediments – accompanied on board the Oceanograf by students from Kiel University. The research cruise will be making an important contribution to students’ education in current topics of marine research. It pools resources and capacities and strengthens research cooperation between European universities within SEA-EU. The organisation of the research at Eckernförde Bay is being led by the Institute of Geosciences at CAU.

Innovative learning, teaching and mobility projects

“SEA-EU provides us with a context for intensifying internationalisation, promoting student mobility and developing new digital formats for studying and teaching,” says Matz-Lück. Students, doctoral candidates, researchers, teachers and staff can receive further education and training via innovative and digital teaching and communications programmes within the Europe-wide university campus. “We want to provide our CAU graduates with the best possible preparation for internationalist working contexts, supporting them early on in building their own networks and career opportunities,” stresses Matz-Lück.

At the same time, the project is strengthening the European Higher Education Area within the global competitive arena. SEA-EU members’ current shared goals are developing innovative teaching and learning formats, creating new forms of cooperation for education, research, technology transfer and knowledge exchange, as well as strengthening pan-European cohesion.

Kiel Marketplace: smart shipping

The SEA-EU week will be flanked by Kiel Marketplace. “We want to use this event to further invigorate the dialogue between science and business, strengthening our cooperation between research and industry,” says Dr Christian Wagner-Ahlfs. As coordinator for transdisciplinary marine research at the Kiel Marine Science (KMS) research centre, Kiel University, he has responsibility for social dialogue. This year's Marketplace will for the first time be hosted internationally with guests from Gdańsk under the reSEArch-EU umbrella. The topic: smart shipping and the development of innovative, sustainable shipping through digitalisation.

For more than ten years, the Kiel Marketplace event series has been organised jointly with Wissenschaftszentrum Kiel (WiZe), the Maritime Cluster Northern Germany (MCN), Schleswig-Holstein office, and Kiel University. Adds Wagner-Ahlfs: “Our goal is to strengthen transnational cooperation in applied research through knowledge transfer.”

Five people in front of a ship lying on a quay edge
© Bevis Nickel

In front of the Gdansk research catamaran Oceanograf, CAU Vice President Professor Nele Matz-Lück (r.) welcomed a delegation from the SEA-EU university alliance, represented by Professor Fidel Echevarría (centre) from the Spanish University of Cádiz. Together with Dr Aleksandra Brodecka-Goluch (University of Gdansk, scientific cruise leader, 2nd from left), Dr Jens Schneider von Deimling (CAU, scientific cruise leader of the day trip, 2nd from right) and Professor Piotr Stepnowski (Rector, University of Gdansk, l.), they visited the Gdansk Research Catamaran, which will stop in Kiel from 1 to 4 June.

Illustration: Route of the SEA-EU research cruise on a map showing Europe
© Alan Stocki, Universität Danzig

Route of the SEA-EU research cruise lasting several weeks with the Gdansk research catamaran "Oceanograf".

Group photo on a terrace
© Friederike Balzereit, Kiel University

At the Kiel-Gdansk Marketplace, experts from both cities came together and discussed the topic of "Smart Shipping and the development of innovative, sustainable shipping through digitalisation": Axel Koch (CAU, Transfer Division), Dr Malgorzata Bielenia (University of Gdansk), Peter Möller (MCN Maritimes Cluster Norddeutschland), Dr. Christian-Wagner Ahlfs (CAU, Kiel Marine Science), Professor Hauke Schramm (Kiel UAS), Dr Aleksandra Dudkowska (Gdansk University), Björn Schwarze (CEO ADDIX Internet Services GmbH), Dr Wiebke Müller-Lupp (Wissenschaftszentrum Kiel GmbH), Professor Dirk Nowotka (CAU, Institute of Computer Science), Dr Nicole Schmidt (CAU, Kiel Marine Science) and Professor em. Marek Grzybowski (Baltic Sea & Space Cluster).

About SEA-EU – The European University of the Seas

The vision of the European University of the Seas (SEA-EU) is to establish a distinctly international, pluri-ethnic, multilingual and interdisciplinary European university. SEA-EU aims to strengthen the links between teaching, research, innovation and knowledge transfer, and to promote social engagement and environmental responsibility. The alliance was initially formed of six universities: the University of Cádiz, coordinator of the alliance, the University of Western Brittany (France), the University of Kiel, the University of Gdańsk (Poland), the University of Split (Croatia) and the University of Malta. In 2022, three more partners joined the network: the University of Naples Parthenope (Italy), the University of Algarve (Faro, Portugal) and Nord University (Bodø, Norway).

Together, they submitted an application to the EU Commission at the end of March for a new four-year funding phase starting in 2023. This extended round will allow the development of the alliance and of a genuine European campus to be progressed – because the strategy aims to create a campus where all students and employees can experience Europe in a very tangible way without bureaucratic obstacles through a diverse range of activities and cooperation. The journey of the SEA-EU higher education alliance – one of the first to be launched by the European Commission – began in 2019 thanks to the ERASMUS+ European higher education initiative and is currently one of 41 European higher education alliances.

Website Sea-Eu

About the European research cruise aboard the Oceanograf research catamaran

More than 45 marine scientists from six countries will spend 40 days at sea investigating the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Atlantic Ocean for gas leaks, concentrations of microplastics, the composition of the ocean-atmosphere interface and air pollution in the ports visited.

The voyage with the Polish University of Gdańsk’s Oceanograf research catamaran leads from Gdańsk via Kiel and Brest to Cádiz and is taking place under the umbrella of the SEA-EU European university alliance. In the process, the researchers want to sample a distance of more than 4,000 nautical miles. It is the first joint scientific expedition of researchers from the six SEA-EU partner universities of Gdańsk, Kiel, Brest, Split, Malta and Cádiz.

About the Kiel Marketplace

The 24th Kiel Marketplace will for the first time be hosted on 31 May 2022 as an international event together with the University of Gdańsk under the umbrella of reSEArch-EU, a project of the European university alliance SEA-EU – the European University of the Seas. Kiel University (CAU) is part of this alliance together with its partners from the Universities of Cádiz, Brest, Malta, Gdańsk and Split. In addition to promoting mobility among the students, researchers and staff of the participating universities, its aim is to organise targeted events for knowledge transfer.

further information

About Kiel Marine Science (KMS)

Kiel Marine Science (KMS), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Marine Science at CAU, is dedicated to interdisciplinary research on the oceans at the interface between humans and the ocean. In doing so, the researchers pool their expertise from different natural and social science disciplines and investigate the risks and opportunities that the ocean holds for humans and educate the next generation across disciplines. Together with actors outside science, they work globally and transdisciplinarily on solutions for sustainable use and protection of the ocean.

Weiterführende Informationen

Contact (SEA-EU at CAU):

Dr Martina Schmode
Head of the International Center at CAU

Dr Jonathan Durgadoo

Contact (Kiel Marketplace, Oceanograf):

Friederike Balzereit
Science Communication | Public Relation
Kiel Marine Science (KMS)


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