Wild Atlantic Alliance opening symposium: new collaborations between Ireland and Brittany

On Wednesday 29 March, a scientific conference brought together the four Breton universities - the University of Rennes, the University of Western Brittany, the University of Southern Brittany and the University of Rennes 2 - and those of the Irish Atlantic coast - University College Cork, University of Galway and University of Limerick

Strengthening the historical links between Brittany and Ireland in a post-Brexit context

Two years after the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Irish universities of the Atlantic coast, 80 representatives of the 4 Breton universities joined the passengers on board the Brittany Ferries ship Armorique, on the occasion of the crossing to Cork, to meet their Irish counterparts on the occasion of the launching symposium of the Wild Atlantic Alliance.

Among them are teachers-researchers, but also university presidents and their vice-presidents:

  • David Alis, President of the University of Rennes
  • Virginie Dupont, Presidente of the Université Bretagne Sud 
  • Christine Rivalan Guégo, Presidente of the Université Rennes 2
  • Pascal Olivard, President of the Université de Bretagne Occidentale 

On the side of the University of Rennes, the following were present:

  • Muriel Hissler, Vice-President in charge of International Relations
  • Sébastien Le Picard, Vice-President in charge of European Projects
  • Jean-François Carpentier, Vice-President Research
  • Erwan Hallot, Vice-President of the Training and Student Life Commission

On the Irish side, the participants were welcomed by Mrs Deirdre Forde, the Mayor of Cork, and Mrs Deirdre O'Brien, Deputy Mayor of Cork County, who both came to meet the members of the symposium. Both the Irish Ambassador to France and the French Ambassador to Ireland were also present to pledge their support for the alliance.

Niall Burgess, Irish Ambassador to France, recalled the strong links between the two countries:

What I love about this initiative is its ambition and the natural connexion between our two coasts. You know, the relationship between Ireland and France is incredibly strong, it’s deeper and more historic that many of us realize. The only thing that holds us back is the fact that we speak differents languages but we’re thinking the same way, we’re formed by the same ideas, we wrestle with the same changes and we are capable of the best when we work together

A gauche : Vincent Guérand, ambassadeur de France en Irlande, à droite : Niall Burgess, ambassadeur d'Irlande en France

Workshops on four themes common to the institutions

This one-day symposium was an opportunity for professors from Breton universities to exchange with their Irish counterparts, through thematic workshops linked to their specialities, the first steps towards joint projects. 4 themes were identified as priorities by both countries:

  • Celtic and Irish Studies ; 
  • Port, Sea & Water ; 
  • Environment and Sustainability ;
  • Digital Transformation

At the end of the day, the rapporteurs of each group were able to summarise in plenary the different initiatives that had emerged from these workshops and that could be translated into initiatives such as joint research projects, online seminars, joint degrees, shared modules, summer schools, shared research infrastructures or the creation of a common database.