EUVOLIA Conducts Training on European Values to REBUILD Workshop Participants

July 5-9, 2021 proved a hot time for the REBUILD workshop participants who came to Kyiv from the HEIs located in or transferred from the conflict-affected areas of Ukraine. REBUILD is an acronym for Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Project “Rebuilding the Potential of EU Studies in the Conflict-affected Areas of Ukraine: Addressing Challenges and Creating Solutions” implemented by EUVOLIA’s trusted partner, APREI.

The overall goal of the project is to step in to identify, train and build a cohort of like-minded agents of change which can meaningfully contribute and engage into the rebuilding and improvement of EU Studies in the conflict-affected areas. The project will also examine and reflect on key challenges related to the development of EU Studies in those territories and offer recommendations and examples of how to respond to them.

No wonder the topic of European Values appeared on REBUILD agenda. To introduce the participants to EU values discourse and values-directed approaches in teaching Humanities, EUVOLIA co-coordinator Olena Tupakhina conducted a training on EU values based on EUVOLIA best practices and student research projects results.

During her presentation, Dr. Tupakhina paid specific attention to the vagueness of an average Ukrainian student’s understanding of the concept of European values. In an interactive part of her session, she encouraged workshop participants to take part in a role-playing game and to explain the meaning of core European values, such as rule of law, tolerance, equality, democracy and human dignity, to their counterparts as if they were 5 years old. The workshop attendants quickly acknowledged the challenging aspect of the task: it was hard to get rid of some complicated and over-theoretised notions and to find appropriate examples based of child’s experience. Some of the participants went as far as to admit that they need clarification on some aspects of such concepts as rule of law or tolerance.

REBUILD participants drawing European Values

This entertaining exercise proved once more that the dialogue about values should be based on the communicant’s actual experience, should refer to their everyday life and must be delivered in a comprehendible and transparent manner. Far too often we tend to hide our own lack of understanding and sometimes even incompetence under the mask of highbrow theoretical concepts.

Let’s hope that EUVOLIA experience will prove useful for the workshop participants and would contribute to rebuilding EU studies potential at their home universities.

EUVOLIA Conference on APREI Newsletter

There is hardly any other newsletter that functional and informative in terms of tracing the dynamics of Eurointegration-focused projects implemented in Ukraine as APREI monthly newsletter. The June 2021 issue gives whole page to EUVOLIA International conference – make sure to subscribe for the digest and, in case you want more unique resources at your disposal, become APREI member asap 🙂

Full version available here.

EUVOLIA Conference gets positive feedback from the participants

Following the two productive days of EUVOLIA European Values in Ukrainian Education International Conference, our participants share their feedback online. We are delighted to say that, according to online survey, over 90% of the conference attendants felt absolutely satisfied with the event. Some of them even wrote about the conference on their HEIs websites.

For Iryna Druzhkova, Associate Professor of the Chair of Sociology, Philosophy and Law at Odessa National Academy of Food Technologies, the strongest point of the conference was that it attracted people from various fields of study to discuss the issue equally interesting for all. She specifically praised an inspiring atmosphere during breakout sessions and trainings that allowed everyone to take part in the discussion and to get feedback from experts and the peers.

For Vira Tarasenko, Associate Professor from Tavrida State Agrotechnical Dmytro Motorny University, the conference looks like a “real feast of science – just like any other event held at Zaporizhzhia National University”.

Many thanks to our conference attendants for their positive remarks! We’re looking forward to welcoming them in Zaporizhzhya for the second EUVOLIA conference next year.

Secretary of National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance awards certificates to EUVOLIA students

First International Conference “European Values in Ukrainian Education: Challenges and Perspectives” held under Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Module “European Values in Literary Arts” (599918-ЕРР-1-2018-1-UA-EPPJMO-MODULE EUVOLIA) was stuffed full of events. Arguably, one of the most interesting meetings on the conference agenda was Secretary of National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance, Dr. Myсhailo Wynnytskyj’s presentation of his book “Ukrainian Maidan, Russian War: Revolution of Dignity Chronicles and Analysis”.

As a Revolution of Dignity participant, Dr. Wynnytskyj knows a lot about inner transformations of Ukrainian attitudes towards such important European values as human dignity, democracy and freedom. A descendant to Ukrainian immigrants in Canada, holding PhD in Economic Sociology from Cambridge University (UK), he he has been a permanent resident of Ukraine since 2003 and contributed a lot to educational reforms currently taking place in our country. In some recent years after the Euromaidan Mykhailo was appointed as the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Councillor and elected as the Head of National Expert Group for Erasmus+ Higher Education Reforming. He deals with the introduction of a degree of Ph.D. instead of traditional Ukrainian ‘aspirantura’ and health care reforms as the head and councillor. He also has been a member of  Advisory Council of Ukrainian Leadership Academy for last three years.

No wonder EUVOLIA students felt really honored to get their graduation certificates from Dr. Wynnytskyj. In his brief speech preceding the ceremony, the honorable guest expressed his delight with the scale of European studies program at ZNU. Alongside EUVOLIA graduates (the last graduation before the project’s closure in August 2021), two more Jean Monnet Modules, JMM TEMPUS and JMM EU-Indy, delegated their best attendants to receive awards. EUVOLIA team congratulates all the students with their accomplishments!

EUVOLIA Keynote Session Gathers over 250 participants from UA, UK and EU

Zaporizhzhya National University is well known for its role as a Eurointegration hub of the South-Eastern Ukraine. May 28, 2021 it opened its doors (both physicallyand virtually, due to COVID-19 restriction) to the participants of the First International Conference “European Values in Ukrainian Education: Challenges and Perspectives” held under Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Module “European Values in Literary Arts”» (599918-ЕРР-1-2018-1-UA-EPPJMO-MODULE EUVOLIA).

The first day of the conference gathered 265 scientists, researchers, teachers, students, public intellectuals and managers of education from all over Ukraine, as well as from other countries: Sweden, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany. The ceremonial opening was held by ZNU First Vice Rector Oleksandr Bondar and Vice-Rector in Academic and Scientific Affairs Yurii Kaganov. The conference participants were greeted by the Deputy Head of Zaporizhzhya Regional State Administration Ruslan Shikhanov. ZNU’s trusted partner on many international projects, the National Erasmus+ Office of Ukraine, was represented by Zhanna Talanova and Petro Krainik.

The very meaning of acronym EUVOLIA, as the project’s co-coordinator Olena Tupakhina has stated in an opening speech, highlights the project’s priorities. Initially, euvolia is a medical term meaning normal water balance of a living organism. Jean Monnet Module EUVOLIA, in its turn, aims at restoring balance between job-specific and cultural competences of future secondary school teachers by introducing them to a complex phenomenon of European values through the lens of European literary arts.

Within the tree years of project’s implementations, 164 students of Zaporizhzhia National University from the faculties of Foreign and Slavonic Philology, Mathematics and Physics, History, Law, Biology, Social Pedagogy and Psychology, Sociology and Sports have attended EUVOLIA class to grasp the idea of European values and to get a better knowledge not only of European culture but also of their own mission as kulturtraegers and European values promoters. Throughout the study process, they gradually acquired critical media literacy skills and basics of deconstruction. As a result of their studies, they submitted over 40 student research projects, 34 of which have been published at EUVOLIA website, and 3 – in EUVOLIA conference proceedings.

Another important outcome from the project were social surveys conducted by EUVOLIA team to find out Ukrainian students’ set of values, as well as their attitudes to European values. The surveys results have been published in peer reviewed journals and collective volume.

EUVOLIA team did its best to reach beyond the university walls, to secondary school teachers, NGOs, independent researchers and experts and general public. Within the project’s life cycle, 2 round table debates were held, gathering over 100 participants in total. EUVOLIA outputs and outcomes have been presented at 6 international conferences, including 2 international LEAP workshops in Lviv and in Tbilisi. The project team established productive synergy with a lot of other Jean Monnet activities all over Ukraine. What is also important, EUVOLIA gave start to introducing European studies in ZNU curriculum: it has become a cornerstone for such projects as JMM EU-INDY and TEMPUS currently implemented at ZNU.

Olena Tupakhina specifically highlighted that, with Ukraine’s European future at stake, educational institutions step forth as powerful agents of change in terms of European Values promotion. By focusing on European Values’ role as an all-encompassing groundbreaking framework for national education reform, EUVOLIA treats this concept first and foremost as values in action – be it teaching, studying, policy making, quality assurance procedures, academic process management, student government or intellectual product design. This is why EUVOLIA conference welcomed topical case studies, best practices analysis and success stories just as much as cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary theoretical contributions. 

The keynote session of the conference demonstrated its multidisciplinary nature to a full extend. It was opened by one of the most prominent figures in Ukrainian education, the Secretary of National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance, Dr. Myсhailo Wynnytskyj. In his speech, Dr. Wynnytskyj covered the value-related aspects of the groundbreaking PhD studies reform currently taking place in Ukraine and aimed at introducing the standards of openness, transparency and academic integrity.

This topic was further developed by Dr. Ian Gadd from Bath Spa University (UK), who used Erasmus+ KA2 CBHE DESTIN project as a case to discuss improving journalism and media training in Ukraine through values-based approach.

The Head of Ukrainian Association of Professors and Researchers of European Integration, Dr. Iryna Sikorska, talked about European identity concept and the role Erasmus+ program plays in establishing European values in Ukraine.  

Dr. Marya Nesterova, the coordinator of EUVOLIA partner projects, SCEGES and EVDISD, currently implemented at National Pedagogical Mykhailo Dragomanov University, focused upon building up an inclusive educational environment based on European values concept.

The keynote session ended with Olena Tupakhina’s presentation summarizing the results of student research projects done within EUVOLIA course. In her analysis, Dr. Tupakhina proved that, in many cases, Ukrainian mass culture products clearly lack European agenda and European value-focused messages. A lot of products are still full of xenophobia, misogynies and survivalism. However, there is a growing sensitivity to such issues in Ukrainian student environment, which can lead to gradual transformation of the national media market.

EUVOLIA Ponders Over European Values in Ukrainian Journalism

As the EUVOLIA final conference dates are approaching fast, our partners from Ukrainian Institute of Media Communications and Journalism Training Academy invited us to share ideas about the ways of teaching European Values to Ukrainian students majoring in Journalism. Together with Katerina Sirinyok-Dolgaryova, JMM EU-Indy coordinator, we discuss the challenges of value-based approach to Journalism education in a thought-provoking opinion column at JTA website:

Full text available here

EUVOLIA team takes part in EVDISD International Conference

One of the most important outcomes EUVOLIA can be proud of is its building up a network of projects dealing with various aspects of European values promotion in Ukraine. National Pedagogical Mykhailo Dragomanov University, widely known as an important hub for such activities, has become EUVOLIA’s trusted partner right from the project’s start. Since 2018, EUVOLIA team has taken part in multiple initiatives under JMM SCEGES and JMC SCAES and JMP EVDISD projects. This year, EUVOLIA co-coordinator Olena Tupakhina had an opportunity to share EUVOLIA’s most important achievements with academic community on an International conference “Values-oriented sustainable development of education: EU lessons for Ukraine” held under Erasmus+ Jean
Monnet Project «European values of diversity and inclusion for sustainable development»
(EVDISD) 620545-EPP-1-2020-1-UA-EPPJMO-PROJECT in cooperation with
SCAES 620635-EPP-1-2020-1-UA-EPPJMO-CHAIR.

The conference gathered over 100 participants from Ukraine, Italy and Slovakia. It served as a dissemination platform for several Jean Monnet initiatives, including Jean Monnet Chair «EU Climate Leadership» 620031-EPP-1-2020-1-UA-EPPJMO-CHAIR, Western Ukrainian Research Center in European Studies (Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence) / 599469-EPP-1-2018-1-UA-EPPJMO-СоЕ, Jean Monnet Chair FoodPro (#587488-EPP-1-2017-1-UA-EPPJMOCHAIR) and EUforUA (611278-EPP-1-2019- 1-UA-EPPJMO-SUPPA).

Dr. Tupakhina’s report interpreted the results of 10 student research projects submitted as a summative assessment for EUVOLIA course within 2018-2020. Among the most interesting tendencies spotted by the researcher, a clear support of such European values as diversity, inclusiveness, gender equality and individuality, in the products targeted at young adult audience should be mentioned. To Olena Tupakhina’s mind, such shift can signalize of gradual change of attitude in favor of European values among the most progressive and open part of Ukrainian society, i.e. student youth.

On behalf of EUVOLIA team we thank the organizing committee for an opportunity provided and are looking forward to welcoming Dr. Marja Nesterova, EVDISD project coordinator, on our own conference in May 28-29, 2021.

EUVOLIA Students Defended their Final Projects

As EUVOLIA project gradually reaches its end, the last two groups of EUVOLIA course attendants present their summative assessment projects in front of the peers and expert jury of EUVOLIA team members. This semester, the student of ZNU Engineering Institute majoring in IT and industrial engineering worked together with future philologists over research projects on Ukrainian popular culture products.

Just like in the years preceding, the most popular products under analysis were The Crazy Wedding movie and The First Sparrows TV series. However, this year students also paid attention to products never analyzed before, such as Cherkasy movie about the annexation of Crimea, Zakhar Berkut historical movie and My Thoughts Are Still dramedy.

Due to quarantine restrictions, part of the defense process was held on Zoom platform, but some groups were lucky enough to defend their projects offline. As always, it resulted in a heated discussion over various plot solutions and imagery applied by Ukrainian screenwriters and directors. I.e., when discussing The First Sparrows TV series, the student paid attention to the fact that the main villain here is a disabled person that might raise concerns in Ukrainian society over inclusive education.

Another heated debate started over Okean Elzy Not Your War single. The provocative title combined with the group frontman Stanislav Vakarchuk’s political declarations contributed to a visual solution of a music video done on black and white contrast and featuring a powerful symbol of a coin dropped.

My Thoughts Are Still dramedy with its clear Don Quichottean subtext was interpreted as a generation gap story clearly demonstrating the young generation’s values shift towards European values paradigm. However, as the project team concluded, young people sharing European values code (like the main hero of the movie) still feel marginalized and oppressed by a loud majority of those advocating survivalism.

Summing up the results of the session, EUVOLIA module leaders couldn’t but notice the growing level of critical media literacy among the students. With the previous years’ projects taken into consideration and consulted for inspiration, the results of the final year of the project look really impressive and demonstrate that formal training can sufficiently improve both critical thinking skills and European values awareness of the project’s target group.

EUVOLIA team takes part in LEAP workshop

There is already a pressing challenge faced by the higher education globally posed by the need to answer to the needs of a knowledge society. As an emerging field, however, the EU Studies face peculiar problems. The structural differences and divergent trends within the EU integration, frequently described as a fracture along North-South, East-West or centre-periphery lines, creates a challenge to teaching and learning the EU integration in diverse settings which are at different points of the EU integration. The picture gets more complicated when it comes to teaching EU Studies at ‘the periphery’ where the EU integration is predominantly an ongoing process and a moving target and the EU Studies faces the danger of being perceived as a derivation of how the country in question is doing with regard to the EU integration rather than an autonomous scientific discipline.

Practical workshops organized by Linking to Europe at the Periphery (LEAP) Jean Monnet Network serve as a wonderful opportunity for emerging and experienced researchers in the field of European Studies to share their research outcomes and discuss them with the expert community. This year, EUVOLIA team was once again lucky enough to get selected for LEAP workshop entitled “Experiencing Europe” with an analytical report upon Europe and European identity as represented through the lens of Ukrainian popular culture.

The workshop took place March 28-29, 2021 in Tbilisi, Georgia, and united 50 aspiring researchers and powerful expert community from 10 countries of the world.

In their report based on the results of student research projects submitted as a part of EUVOLIA study course, EUVOLIA team paid specific attention to those dealing with an image of European, as well as with cultural connotations arising from Europe-relate references. The two most popular products clearly pursuing the topic of Europeanness are the Crazy Wedding movie and People’s Servant TV series largely known for the role it played for President Volodymyr Zelensky’s successful election campaign in 2019.

By comparing the strategies applied to depicting European characters in both products, EUVOLIA team demonstrated that they are largely based on established cultural stereotypes and binary oppositions, i.e. civilization vs barbarity, rational vs emotional etc. In both cases, European characters are closely associated with social protocol, politeness, rationality and intellect, and as such opposed to overtly emotional, impulsive and sincere Ukrainians. However, while in Crazy Wedding the European character is introduced to compare “real” Europeanness to a “fake” one (represented by a character of Ukrainian origin who hides his xenophobic biases under the mock-civilizational façade), in People’s Servant it is Ukrainian president Vasyl Holobrodko (played by Zelensky) who actually comes to disclose European character’s cunning and tricky ways. Thus, the product manages to advocate the Ukrainian isolationism and casts doubts upon Eurointegration process by calling the nation to “build Europe at home” rather than join the EU.

EUVOLIA Welcomes New Students!

COVID-19 can change our life drastically in every aspect – except for the fact that EUVOLIA course once again welcomes its new students on board!

This year, we reach beyond ZNU main campus to our Engineering Institute, which was established in 2018 and trains future IT specialists, industrial engineers and architects. To make the groups more diverse and to ensure peer-to-peer learning component, we invited a group of Foreign Philology students to join.

And though this year’s ice breakers and other activities had to take place online, we have no doubts that our newcomers will once again succeed on their long journey through the realm of European literature.

Good luck and full ahead!