UCU Students Developed 6 Social and Cultural Projects for Lviv during the Class ‘Experts in Teamwork’

Some 40 UCU students from various specializations studied the habits of effective cooperation and project management during a specialized Ukrainian-Norwegian course “Experts in Teamwork.”

The practical course “Experts in Teamwork” is intended to develop habits of interdisciplinary teamwork and introduce innovation. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim developed this course 10 years ago. It has spread to other Scandinavian universities and is now in Ukraine as part of an international project in innovative education that UCU’s Lviv Business School is conducting in cooperation with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Illoso Company, and with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The course is adapted according to the challenges of students and contemporary life in Ukraine.

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UCU students studied for a week and developed six social and cultural projects for Lviv. The particularity of the course is its interdisciplinary approach to implementing ideas. So in one group journalists, theologians, and social pedagogues were able to work together with students from the Media Communications School. They all had the same goal, to develop in a team an original idea and propose concrete steps to implement it.

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“Receiving a traditional education at a university, students study to become experts in a field. Participants in the course ‘Experts in Teamwork’ need to leave their comfort zone and encounter various obstacles, one of which is to share their own knowledge and to use others’ knowledge in order to solve problems together. The essence is the uniting of knowledge; the possibility of effectively working in a team and bringing maximum usefulness to each other. These skills are in great demand in today’s professional environment. Effective cooperation is a necessary condition for the further successful execution of these complex problems,” commented the coordinator of the course, Yaryna Boychuk, LvBS’s academic director.

Participants of the course worked in six teams in two areas: promoting the culture of Lviv and the city’s social challenges, and they presented their work to staff of the Lviv City Council.

Art-residence at the Lesya Ukrainka Theater

This is a successful project which has not remained only on paper but is now being developed. Students developed the idea of reviving the Lesya Ukrainka Theater, where a management crisis recently arose. “The theater now has a new team, and we decided to propose a new vision of development to them,” said Oleksandra Davydenko, one of the members of the UCU student team. “The idea of a theater is not simply a stage where plays are presented but an artistic space where various cultural activities are conducted. This is a large building with a great amount of resources which have not all been used,” she said. “Much space is not utilized there. There are old decorations and some interesting scraps. All this can be transformed into art objects.”

Working in a team, the students developed a long-term project “Discover yourself, discover the theater,” in which, already next Saturday, October 17, a clean-up effort is planned. The second step will be the creation of a mural on the walls of the building. “Artists are already doing the sketches. The idea is to invite artists to the theater for three days so that they can do interesting installations, performances, and photographs, and incorporate these in the space of the courtyard and surrounding areas. This would be a unique exhibit made with items already in the theater!” So explained Oleksandra, the curator of the idea. She and others generating ideas won a grant for 15 thousand hryvnias and in a month an art-residence will appear on the territory of the theater.

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Planetarium

Participants from each team gave an idea about how to solve the problem with the premises of the Lviv Movie Theater in Stryiskyi Park by creating a planetarium there. “This is a fairly large structure and it has enough space for a project like this. Even more so, there are many movie theaters but no planetarium in Lviv, as compared to Kyiv or Dnipropetrovsk,” noted Mykola Reshniuk, one of the students of the program. The students expect that this project will be popular among Lviv residents, because there are no similar institutions in western Ukraine. He said that his fellow team members have already begun thinking of ways to raise money, through grants and crowd-funding.

Library for the blind and disabled

This project should make it easier for people with limitations to have access to educational resources. In a library like this the students want to create a collection of audio materials and books printed in Braille. As they developed the idea, the team members noted that there are no similar libraries in Lviv. The majority of blind people must scan texts and then transfer them to an audio format with special programs.

A library like this would save them time and money spent adapting books by providing them with ready audio materials. Khrystyna Rud, a social pedagogy student, was very satisfied with her experience of working together with people from other disciplines. She noted that the experience was positive even though previously she had preferred working independently rather than on a team: “I’m not a team player. But taking part in this program helped me to better understand that together much more can be accomplished.” For now, the idea remains on paper, but the team has members who want to implement it.

Crisis day care center

The students presented one of the projects of the social cluster to a center that helps children in crisis. As the team members explained, for now there is only an appropriate service for children of school age from 1st to 11th grade. The particularity of this project is to create a crisis day care center for pre-schoolers. “We developed a concrete project out of specific requirements. We were fortunate that one team member was a young lady with a background in economics, who developed the business-plan.

“In general we played various roles. Someone looked for contacts at similar institutions. Others studied the work of day care centers. Still others worked on presenting the project,” recounted Yaroslav Nazar, a student of the School of Journalism. A particularly active team member was a young lady who is a social pedagogy student, for this was an activity in her niche.

The Large Family “Re-loaded”

This is the prototype of medical-social projects. A psychologist helps families with problems find ways for understanding each other. However, in this case the team members proposed the creation of a social service with individual approaches for each family. By implementing the project they planned to work together with the Social Work Department of the Lviv City Center for Social Services for Families, Children and Youth.

“Usually services like this have many problem families and not enough time for each of them. We want to choose a specific family and spend time with them until their problems are solved,” explained student Oleksandra Chernova. The idea is that this should be a family with three or more children. The young lady emphasized that the project is not oriented at providing material aid but more at searching for methods for making a family with conflicts turn into “one team.” “We will not be giving money but possibilities to families with problems. We will help the adults find work and talk with the children about career possibilities. If the child wants to become a firefighter, for example, we will connect them with a specialist in the fire department. Perhaps we could organize an ‘ideal family’ day for them, take them to the theater, etc.” According to the plan, the project will enlist people from various areas of activity based on questions that arise during the resolution of specific problems in families. Necessary staff for the service: a pedagogue, a psychologist, and a finance specialist.

Project for the homeless “The way home”

This is a social volunteer project to prepare qualified psychologists who would do field work with the homeless. Team members develop this idea because there are many homeless in Lviv.

The project Oselya (Refuge) already exists. It provides food and some help, but it lacks specialists who would help change people’s motivations in life. At the start it plans to provide psychological support and, eventually, to create an area where the homeless can live temporarily.

For most of the students, this was not their first experience of team work. What was new was the theme chosen. Journalism student Yaroslav Nazar, who belonged to the social projects cluster, said that for him the challenge was the social sphere, in which he had not previously worked. “In cases like this you work more as a manager and solve problems pragmatically. You become aware that you are not saving the whole world, because you have to set a specific goal. In my opinion, this was very good administrative experience in work with social projects. Making decisions in a timely fashion is something that can be learned,” he admitted. Oleksandra Davydenko, who inspired the project to revive the Lesya Ukrainka Theater, was very satisfied that during the training they developed a strategy, a part of which was discussed at a press-conference which presented a new vision for the theater. In her words, their team worked without a single leader. “Under various conditions we attempted to carry out the assignment. It was complicated, but at the same time it helped to create an interdisciplinary project. In this program I learned the logistics of group work,” she said.

According to Mykola Reshniuk, when the team has a leader, it is easier to structure work. “The biggest thing that I understood was the importance of choosing personnel. It is very important that there is harmony among the team members and that a single goal unites all. No one in our project was passive, but no one became the ‘leader’ of the idea,” he emphasized. Yevhen Hrytsenko, a member of another team, considered that the absence of a hierarchy in the team encouraged work. “No one pressured anyone else. Each found his own place in the efforts. Inasmuch as we were from various areas of specialization, at the start it was difficult to develop a single viewpoint for the idea. Finally, we were able to improve communication.”