Ateneu UB: where experience has no limits
The University of Barcelona strives to be an institution where age is no obstacle to the transfer of knowledge
Professors are people who educate, who teach us teach how to live, clearing the way and opening doors. Thanks to professors we all are where we are. We are grateful to the teachers we crossed paths with at a given moment of our lives, people who had the patience to teach us how to navigate this pressurised confusing world. Professionals of every field would not be who they are if it had not been for good teachers, instructing them and serving as their points of reference. For this reason, being a teacher is one of the most important professions anywhere, and should be amongst the most highly valued in the world.
What happens, however, when a working life reaches its end, when retirement comes and a teacher stops working, despite having so many things to share with new generations of students? The University of Barcelona believes that we should never veto the transfer of experience and values. It is for this reason last February Ateneu UB was created, conceived as a place for those faculty members who, despite being retired, wish to continue to make up part of this great family. “The idea is that no one who has worked for so many years in this place might end up disconnected from the institution after a certain age,” explains Joaquim Prats, President of the Board of Ateneu UB.
The Ateneu UB space, located in the Historic Building, was conceived with the goal of being a meeting place where faculty can maintain their ties to the University of Barcelona. A place for reflection, debate and the organisation of events, the definitive headquarters of a multitude of activities that represent an asset for both the university community and the population at large. As a group comprised of professionals from various fields of knowledge with a lifetime of accumulated experience, the members of Ateneu UB can advise, assist and share ideas with students and faculty. Furthermore, they can also contribute to conflict resolution both within and outside the university community. the university community.
Nevertheless, this is not the first time that a large academic institution has created a space of this kind. In fact, it tends to be common to use such initiatives to recognise the importance of enhancing the advancement and exchange of knowledge amongst community members. For this reason, part of what members of Ateneu UB will do is announce the events taking place in its university space to society at large. At Ateneu UB, debate and the exchange of knowledge and opinion play an important role in enriching the community. At the same time great importance has been placed on activities conceived for those outside the university, for all of society. This involves the presentation, for example, of cultural and artistic events, dances and seminars, amongst other acts. In this way, Ateneu UB seeks to make sure it always remembers that this university is a public institution and a reference point for all of society. It is thus beholden on it to create knowledge while making such knowledge accessible and presenting it to the world around us.
Experience and knowledge
Amongst its aims, Ateneu UB seeks to facilitate thought as well as intellectual and artistic creation amongst retired faculty. “Our desire is that they integrate into the university structure, taking full advantage of the experience and knowledge of the majority of professors who wish to participate”, explains Josep Antoni Bombí, board member of Ateneu UB. With this aim, an invitation to join has been sent from the university Rectorate to all faculty members about to retire, so that if they so wish they might continue to contribute to the community with their experience beyond compare. .
During the recent pandemic, experienced the world over, many planned activities of the University of Barcelona had to be cancelled. For the overall wellbeing of the entire university family, Ateneu UB had to stop carrying out its in-person meetings. Despite restrictions, it was with great pleasure that on 23 November its members were able to meet to constitute a Board of Directors, which features the president, Joaquim Prats, the academic secretary, Mercè Costa, and the professors Josep Antoní Bombí, Montserrat Busquets, Ana M. Carmona, Enric Canela, Marc Mayer and Carme Triadó. In this meeting, attended by UB rector Joan Elias and Maite Vilalta, Vice-Rector for Equal Opportunities and Social Action, a common aim was affirmed: to initiate, in January 2021, a variety of initiatives to make Ateneu UB better known in the university community and society in general.
If there is anything that this project demonstrates it is that there is no age limit for creativity, debate and reflection. The University of Barcelona is an immense family that cares for and greatly appreciates all its members. This is made clear by the fact that faculty members choose to continue being part of it, even after the end of their careers. Ateneu UB currently has 300 members. This is how to ensure that knowledge never slips away, and that the transfer of values and the urge to reflect might be kept alive and continue to be expressed, generation after generation.