March 19, 2018 - 3:45pm
Courses help Ukraine government develop sustainable economic policies
NANAIMO, BC: In the spirit of global citizenship, professors from Vancouver Island University (VIU) have helped Ukraine launch a training program in Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) to support sustainable economic growth. The program is the culmination of a five-year partnership between VIU, the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI) and Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv.
VIU professors and instructors worked with their Ukrainian counterparts to co-develop six SDI courses, translate them into Ukrainian and deliver them to more than 150 Ukrainian civil servants. The aim of the partnership, funded by Global Affairs Canada, is to improve access to spatial data and web mapping technology used to support sound policy development.
“In today’s knowledge economy you cannot create good policy without accurate spatial data,” said VIU Professor Dr. Michael Govorov, who attended the official launch of the new program at a conference at KPI in February. “This program is allowing the Ukrainian government to gain better insights into its economy and resources so they can address issues such as land reform, transparency, gender inequality and better respond to infrastructure needs.”
Govorov’s visit to Ukraine also marked the handover of the new program to KPI, which will now offer the courses independently.
Over the five-year partnership, Govorov and fellow GIS instructors Dave Cake, Brad Maguire, Dr. Paul Zandbergen, Dr. Hannah Wilson, Dr. Alan Gilchrist and others trained six Ukrainian instructors to deliver the online courses, taught alongside them, and then evaluated and adjusted the materials based on the feedback of each cohort of students. To date, government workers from 46 Ukrainian state agencies have received training.
“It was a big learning curve,” said Dave Cake, newly appointed chair of Geography and post-graduate GIS programs at VIU. “We had to navigate the language differences, and learn nuances of Ukrainian culture to make the coursework understandable and applicable.”
Ukraine endured lots of upheaval over the course of the project, including Russian military intervention into the country’s eastern regions. Despite the challenges, students from 10 regions of Ukraine completed the courses, and there continues to be demand from all areas of the country.
“Our hope is that with the help of this program, Ukraine will build its internal capacity to respond to the needs of its people,” said Darrell Harvey, VIU’s International Projects Coordinator. “There is definitely the desire to do so. We are just glad we could share some of VIU’s expertise and provide some meaningful tools to support the change they are looking for.”
The project is part of broader initiatives to develop Ukraine’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure, which – put simply – are computerized maps with embedded databases that allows users to inventory and plan the use of resources and land.
Aly Winks, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University