Creating the basis for the sustainable development of cultural tourism and the development of authentic and innovative experiences are the key priorities of Living Lab

14. July 2022.

As part of the scientific project funded by the HORIZON2020 EU program for research and innovation called SmartCulTour at the Faculty of Economics in Split in early 2021, the first Living lab in Croatia focused on development sustainable cultural tourism.

Living Lab is a physical or virtual space where different stakeholder groups collaborate and jointly create innovative solutions to specific problems they face.

In the context of this Living Lab, we are talking about creating a stimulating environment for the development of sustainable and resilient cultural tourism and innovative experiences and products in that segment in the area covered by the Lab

With Prof. Ph.D. Smiljana Pivčević, We talked about an innovative concept with the Vice-Dean for Teaching at the Faculty of Economics in Split and a full-time professor at the Department of Tourism and Economy Living Laba for cultural tourism, the first Living Lab in tourism in Croatia, as well as other activities Faculty of Economics in Split. 

Prof. Ph.D.Sc. Smiljana Pivčević: We are the first study in Croatia to conduct an experimental dual education pilot project

Smiljana2
Prof. Ph.D.Sc. Smiljana Pivčević, Vice dean for teaching at the Faculty of Economics in Split

What is Living Lab and why is it important? 

Living lab is, as the name suggests, "living laboratories", i.e. a network of interconnected stakeholders who cooperate, jointly identify problems and work to find innovative solutions for them. The goal of the Split Living Lab, which we developed in the framework of http://www.smartcultour.eu/ The SmartCulTour project is about creating an environment for the development of sustainable cultural tourism, primarily by encouraging innovation and creating tourist experiences.

They are included in the Lab main actors in the destination - representatives of the tourist community, entrepreneurs in tourism, representatives of the local community and sector associations, and the previous activities of LL were aimed at establishing a network of stakeholders and identifying key priorities and needs in the domain of cultural tourism development. Based on in-depth research and analysis of the sustainability and resilience of cultural tourism in the area of ​​LL, the work plan of the Split LL was drawn up in coordination with UNESCO, one of the partners in the SmartCulTour project.

They are harmonized two key priorities activities of LL - creation of a foundation for the sustainable development of cultural tourism and the development of authentic and innovative experiences in the segment of cultural tourism, and a consensus was reached that within the two priorities of activities of LL, they should focus on the development of specific educational programs for the needs of business entities in the segment cultural tourism, and strengthening awareness of cultural heritage, cooperation and partnerships.

The mentioned activities will be carried out in the continuation of the work of our LL, and UNESCO reported on them just these days on its official website.

How important is work on international research projects for your department and faculty in general?

Working on international projects is an extremely important part of our work because through it, in cooperation with the best European universities and institutions, we follow the latest knowledge in the fields we deal with and develop new knowledge. We publish the results through our scientific papers and, what is especially important, we pass them on to students through classes, which ensures that the course content and topics we cover are current and relevant.

Through such projects, we also open doors to cooperation and organize guest lectures and summer schools with leading world experts in their fields. Successful projects also open the door to international mobility for our students and employees. Currently, our faculty has a contract with over 60 institutions from more than 20 countries where our students can do part of their studies or professional practice abroad with ERAMSUS support.

In the work of Living Lab, you emphasize the importance of different stakeholders and their mutual cooperation. To what extent do you, as a faculty, nurture such a way of working and cooperate with different stakeholders from the environment?

Cooperation with all relevant actors in our environment is extremely important to us and primarily refers to employers, public institutions, associations and civil associations. We have excellent cooperation with employers through professional practice, which we realize in more than 100 different entities.

In addition, leading experienced managers of various companies regularly come to our students to hold guest lectures, and we also organize case study competitions. That's just how we are finished the competition with the company Tommy, and we are proud that some of the solutions created by the students are already being implemented. Through our Business Council, businessmen from the most important companies in the area give us suggestions for the strategic development of our institution, the study programs and educations we offer. 

Let's cooperate most intensively with associations and civil society organizations through our innovative program Professional practice - socially useful learning who also received the University's award. In the mentioned course, instead of learning from books, in team project work, students solve a specific problem of the Association with which  they work.

The importance we attach to practice is also shown by the fact that we are the first studio in Croatia which experimentally carried out a pilot project of dual education in which students learn in parallel in the lecture hall/college and in companies/in practice. We developed the project through ERASMUS + INCOME project in Tourism studies in cooperation with several European universities and employers where our students do internships.

We also cooperate with public institutions through various projects that we implement, such as the coordination and creation of the Split City Development Strategy, which we create free of charge for the City of Split, but also many other strategies and expertise for different clients, round tables, guest lectures and the like. In summary, cooperation and exchange of knowledge and feedback is an imperative for our actions, and I would say our obligation as a public institution. 

 

Screenshot 2022 07 14 at 12

Through the activities of Living Lab, you emphasize the importance of innovation and development of new products, and we know that it is precisely the creation of new elements that improves the market, the industry, and the entire society. How much knowledge do your students acquire for the development of new products and ideas through their studies?

We are extremely dedicated to the development of the entrepreneurial competencies of our students. This does not apply only to students who choose the Entrepreneurship major, but there is a whole series of activities that are open to all students of our Faculty, students of our University, and some students from all over the world.

Tako completely free we offer support and advice from experienced mentors for the development of student ideas in Student Business Incubator from which around 20 new business entities have emerged so far, we organize several competitions through which students' entrepreneurial ideas can get funding, and some of them are notable global events, such as GET IN THE RING or STuP.

It is certainly important to state that we offer numerous opportunities to develop students' practically important knowledge and skills through seminars, workshops, summer schools, grandstands, round tables etc. Because of all the above, we were recently declared the best faculty in Croatia in the domain of development support for Start-ups.

It is often said that the world is a global village and young people are going abroad more and more often. How important is the international dimension in your programs and how ready are your students to work in an international environment?

The international dimension of our study program is proven by the fact that we are the only ones in Croatia to have a study program in the Croatian language with a prestigious degree international EFMD accreditation which ranks it among the best study programs of its kind in the world. One of the evaluation criteria is precisely the international dimension of the program. It is a study of Business Economics, but the same criteria are incorporated in all our study programs. 

In addition, in order to develop their linguistic, business and cultural competences, our students can listen completely free of charge more than 40 courses in English in a multicultural environment with foreign ERASMUS students. I must point out here that we are by far the most popular faculty of the University of Split for international students, receiving more than 1/3 of all ERASMUS students.

The possibility of going on international mobility, which I have already mentioned, is used by an increasing number of our students with the wholehearted support of ours Center for International Cooperation. I would add that we are currently working on development of two innovative graduate studies in English with excellent universities from Europe and Asia to which we applied  financing from EU funds. 

What about other competencies that today's labor market is looking for? 

519a8617

The slogan of our Faculty is "Navigate through challenges" and all our efforts are aimed precisely at equipping our students with knowledge and skills that will provide them with the same.

Our teachers regularly attend training courses to improve their knowledge and skills and continuously improve the content and methods of teaching. Through the courses, especially in the higher years of study, we intensively develop in students the key skills necessary for the modern business world - skills of communication, team and project work, presentation of ideas, critical and systemic thinking, and students in many courses work as a team or independently and present their project or production ideas.

Humanitarian event "Children for children" is an example of an event that grew out of just such a concept in which students, instead of writing and presenting a seminar paper, organize an event and collect and donate funds to an association of their choice. As I mentioned earlier, we continuously offer students an extremely large number of free seminars, workshops, summer schools, forums, round tables... and students can participate in numerous student associations and organizations and organize events, develop projects and travel while studying, etc. I tell students at the beginning of their studies that they should look at their studies as a buffet - the offer of our faculty is really rich and diverse, and leave "hungry" for knowledge skills can only be used if they have not even used them, which is really difficult. 

It is certain that all the activities that I mentioned synergistically contribute to the high employability rate of our students - a large part of them are already working in the last years of their studies, and the employers we work with often contact us looking for new employees among our students.

14. July 2022.