Closed borders and working from home: What is the future of cross-border projects on the European Campus during the Corona crisis? In this series we are asking researchers and teachers about the effects of the crisis on their bi- or trinational cooperation.

Interculturality is an important pillar of the European Campus. Loïc Chalmel is Professor for Interculturality at the Université de Haute-Alsace.

Prof. Chalmel, closed borders and a political retreat toward more national matters: What is the current state of interculturality?
Prof. Loïc Chalmel: The border closings were a shock for all university staff working within Eucor or with a transnational perspective. Whether you are French, Swiss or German, it felt like a denial of their efforts and deeply impacted them. I have German and French students and I could see that closing the border is something that affects them too.

Is intercultural interaction on the phone or by video just as possible as in personal encounters?
Chalmel: I think so. I too organize video conferences with my students on the issues surrounding interculturality, especially in view of the emergence of the future “Collectivité européenne d’Alsace”. We have also been able to set up appropriate tools in the research area.

How has the crisis affected intercultural cooperation?
Chalmel: I believe that the current moment is crucial in this context. If we are not able to turn the situation around and restore a research community that includes researchers from both sides of the Rhine, we will lose the results of several years’ work. Opening the borders must become a priority. All students and teachers dealing with intercultural issues have to take quick action because time is of the essence. Otherwise we run the risk of experiencing a years’ long setback.