While Ukraine is present in the media in an unpleasant way on a daily basis, it is less in the public awareness that numerous Ukrainians have been living and working in Germany for many years. As a result, several German-Ukrainian networks have already been developed in the past. Even independently of the Ukrainians living in Germany, there was cooperation between researchers in Germany and Ukraine before the recent war.
A project team led by Prof. Petia Genkova, who conducts research in the field of cultural psychology at the "Competence Center Global Competence" (Faculty of Business Management and Social Sciences), had established a research network before the current war, which includes researchers in several countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This network was formed as the core of the project "Diverschance_East - Global competence development and diversity challenges in an innovative Europe" and deals with the opportunities arising from a diversifying Europe. As a result of the exchange within this network, a researcher from Ukraine is currently spending a research stay at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences.
The project team was recently invited to the conference "Days of Ukraine in Lower Saxony", which took place on 30.09.2022 and 01.10.2022 at Leibniz University Hannover. The conference is organized in cooperation with the German-Ukrainian Academic Society and the Hannover Medial School. It serves to promote and to further expand German-Ukrainian university cooperation and research cooperation.
On the first day of the conference, Ukrainian and German researchers presented their projects. On behalf of the project team, Jonathan Herbst reported on various international and national projects being carried out at the Competence Center Global Competence. He provided detailed insights into the project "Diverschance_East", in the framework of which Dr. Liudmyla Smokova from the National Mechnikov University Odesa is currently conducting research at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences.
Between the lecture sessions, the Ukrainian speakers introduced their educational institutions. Refugee researchers reported on their activities in the Lower Saxony host institutions. The project team was able to establish contacts with other researchers who are potential cooperation partners for future projects.
As expected, the current war in Ukraine also played a central role at this year's conference. Some speakers reported on how the war is hindering scientific work, but also on how cooperation projects between German and Ukrainian universities could provide quick and targeted help. The conference also provided space for German-Ukrainian aid organisations to present their activities.
Of current practical relevance was a programme item during which specific problems of refugee Ukrainian researchers were discussed through group work and solutions were sought. Jonathan Herbst was able to share his experience of working with refugees and his theoretical knowledge of refugee and integration research. The project team was also able to establish further contacts with NGOs and associations that could be important future partners in the field of refugee and integration research and research into intercultural competence.
The event was rounded off by a doctoral competition and by Ukrainian musicians, who provided a festive closing atmosphere.
From 08.02.2022 to 11.02.2022, a hybrid workshop took place at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences as part of the DiversChance-East project. Representatives from Ukraine, Hungary, Lithuania, Spain and Germany came together to develop a new research project to explore the topic of diversity in an even more interdisciplinary way in the future.
During the four-day workshop, the representatives dealt intensively with the topics of diversity, inclusion and the reduction of discrimination in the workplace.
At the beginning of the workshop, the participants were first welcomed to the city of Osnabrück and given a tour of the city. After the welcome on the campus of the university by the vice president of the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, Prof. Dr. Lehmann, a campus tour followed.
Afterwards, each participant presented himself and his own research. This was followed by a professional discussion in the plenum. Here, the participants devoted themselves to the jointly planned research project and put together ideas for implementation in order to benefit from each other in the best possible way.
With the help of the workshop, a joint research outline was developed based on the different focuses of the contributors in the ongoing DiversChance-East project. The central idea is to reduce discrimination in the workplace based on certain characteristics such as age, gender or cultural background.
Over the next few months, the network will devote itself to actively exchanging research and ideas, with a view to then jointly submitting a European research proposal.
The aim of the project is to contribute to conflict-free intercultural communication and to ensure greater fairness and understanding.
In the future, the project partners will be integrated into the CULT_OPEN network. This inclusion will create multiple opportunities for further cooperation. Through the expansion of cross-sectoral cooperation, it will also be possible to work together with representatives of the local economy in both Western and Eastern Europe. Thus, on the one hand, the transfer of scientific results into practice will be advanced. On the other hand, innovative potential and synergy effects in science and economy can be developed.
The bilateral cooperation of the project partners will be integrated into the Cult_Open network. The network consists of experts from the fields of diversity, intercultural competence, and migration. The incorporation facilitates the expansion of the network by including the Ukraine. In addition, further perspectives can be incorporated into the research on global competence, thereby enabling research proposals to be submitted in the current and upcoming EU research framework programs. The cooperation with the CULT_OPEN network also suggests an expansion of the interorganizational relations of the participating universities in addition to the cooperation of the participating project partners. Through partnerships, local science systems can be modernized and strengthened, benefiting the promotion of young scientists. Furthermore, barriers for Erasmus students can be lowered, thus facilitating intercultural exchange already among students.