Successful programme start – despite difficult circumstances

Despite the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, the kick-off meeting took place at the end of September: as a highly interactive, virtual conference.

The corona crisis has also had its effects on the launch of the National Research Programme NRP 77. Many research groups are experiencing difficulties in getting their project off the ground: for example, some are experiencing delays in finding and hiring doctoral students. For others, practical work cannot be started at the moment. For example, in projects that want to develop or test digital tools in school classes and on teachers. Personal interviews or interventions with nursing teams in hospitals are also currently not possible. Less affected are projects which, for example, are dedicated to the analysis of data from the labour market or to legal and ethical questions of digitalisation.

Despite this rather difficult environment, all projects bundled in NRP 77 and their different perspectives met at the kick-off meeting at the end of September. Although the event took place virtually, the more than 200 participants came together for a lively exchange of information beyond their individual projects. With many personal encounters researchers could exchange creative ideas and make contacts for cooperation. It was clear that projects dealing with similar topics such as school and vocational education and training, media and democratic processes or the world of work and the labour market came together. But it was interesting to see how researchers from the most diverse disciplines found links to the fields of sociology and ethics. Thus, already at the first meeting, an essential intention behind a National Research Programme began to take shape: networked and interdisciplinary thinking and working.

In addition to researchers, representatives of various stakeholder groups took part in the kick-off event and formulated their views on the digital transformation and their expectations of NRP 77: Stefanie Bosshard from the Association of Swiss Youth Parliaments; Ensar Can, project manager for general economic policy & education at Economiesuisse; Cornelia Diethelm, founder of the Swiss Centre for Digital Responsibility; Andreas Klausing, Swiss Agency for ICT and Education –; Gilles Marchand, Director General of SRG; Olga Meier-Popa from the Swiss Centre for Special Education; Johannes Mure as representative of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI); Joëlle Racine from the Politics Department of the Unia trade union; Centre; Bernhard Weber from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs Seco; Che Wagner from civicLab. The exchange with these actors marked the beginning of a working approach focused on practical application and high social relevance within the NRP 77 network.