A short report from EUniWell Virtual Staff Training Week, May 17th – 20th, 2021
All in all 37 participants, representing teaching- and support staff from all of the seven EUniWell partners, networked in various sessions and workshops throughout the first EUniWell Staff Training Week.
In theory and practice and with great curiosity and interaction, the participants learned about; core values in higher education, the four rooms of leadership in academia, key concepts in intercultural communication, as well as receiving tools for teaching in the intercultural classroom and articulating intercultural aspects in the course offer and learning outcomes.
Concepts and insights that may very well serve as the foundation of a shared EUniWell identity and culture. The collective wisdom and knowledge shared by the participants was inspiring and contributed to a sense of commonality and unity.
The overall objective of the EUniWell Virtual International Staff Training Week was to offer teaching staff and support staff opportunities for professional development and networking.
Through input, reflection and exchange of experiences, we aimed to raise the participants’ levels of awareness and gain insights regarding issues of relevance for teaching and working interculturally in various EUniWell contexts.
During the last day of wrapping up it became clear that the staff training week was not just seen as a singular event but as an opening to future joint EUniWell initiatives, forums and groups, and that there now is a network of people that we can ask to work together with.
Some voices from the week
“I found it very inspiring to make contacts with colleagues from other universities. The discussion about how we work in different ways to draw attention to and strengthen our students' intercultural competencies at our universities was instructive. I would appreciate more opportunities to collaborate and discuss pedagogical and research-related issues. The first step is that we get to know each other and the staff training week contributes to that.” (Corina Löwe, Linnaeus University)
“Thank you for this very attractive online event I have joined and one of the best training sessions that delivered the promise from the announcement! A curious, interesting, inspiring and amazing week!!!” (Barbara Sabatini, International Relations, Florence University)
"The Training Week provided a valuable insight into the different facets of the EUniWell initiative. This was enhanced by a range of interactions with staff from across the seven universities." (Amel Anane. Chief Student Officer, EUniWell)
“The staff training week has allowed us to share and build a common ground.” (Anonymous)
Tips from participants for EUniWell and suggestions for EUniWell collaborations
Tips for future activities and collaboration opportunities were identified and will be shared with the EUniWell project managers. One overall wish was to make EUniWell more visible for all, another was to have a platform or a forum where best practices for teaching and learning enhancement could be shared. No doubt there will be some initiatives sprung from this week, and a couple of concrete ideas were to:
- create a network of staff working in the higher education development area at each partner university,
- include a module on intercultural communication skills in the pilot course that is being designed in WP2.
In order to make EUniWell more visible and for the staff to have further networking opportunities, it was suggested to:
- Communicate the vision/mission of EUniwell upfront – e.g EUniWell aims at creating well-being for students and staff at University
- Advertise EUniWell inhouse
- A staff hackathon to elicit networking amongst staff
- Repeat the staff week in person
- Longer programs about intercultural communication (online, in-person, etc.)
- Arrange virtual classroom opportunities for staff and students
- Create a forum for exchange between different status groups within the partner universities
- Very good to keep connected. Can Euniwell offer an internal coffee corner?
- Gradually participate in events that exist in each university
- Integrate the possibility of participating with other languages
- Map the different paths of the different participants to the EUniWell project, in order to understand our different perspectives/expectations better.
- The language in intercultural communication workshop by Ruth was very interesting. Extend that knowledge to how language has often been a boundary in our daily functioning and how language can be more effective.
- Euniwell could proposition itself more effectively as the "5th Room" (Referring to the model of the Four Rooms in Academia (Sewerin, 2021). Good to rethink the road to get incorporated within universities instead of coexisting.
- Recruit gatekeepers from the different leadership spaces for future workshops and implement the exciting approaches developed during the workshop.
From the teaching staff, suggestions specifically aimed at teaching and learning were shared:
- The EUniWell staff training network can support to further enrich the intercultural classroom or curriculum. It would be useful to map out our strengths and similarities and see if we can from that starting point build something together.
- Co-creation of an intercultural team work session for academics to embed into education modules in order to make students more prepared for group work.
- Explore if we share common models of teaching and learning and perhaps of UDL design
- Connect with counterparts who also embed enterprise and entrepreneurship into the curriculum
- Peer observed teaching for academics/educators
- Peer to peer opportunities for students to engage with one another. Could some of this be built into the curriculum to enhance intercultural awareness?