UP expands cooperation with Camosun College in British Columbia

Photo: Sunny Hundal
Tuesday 26 July 2022, 8:00 – Text: Šárka Chovancová

After a two-year break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Palacký University (UP) is resuming practical cooperation with Camosun College in the city of Victoria, the capital of the westernmost Canadian province of British Columbia. The universities started the partnership in 2015, and the focus of their cooperation has so far been in the areas covered by the UP Faculty of Physical Culture (FPC) and the Department of Geography of the Faculty of Science (FS). Based on recent events, however, possibilities are opening up for those interested in other fields as well.

In recent years, the Erasmus+ programme significantly helped to strengthen, deepen, and expand cooperation between the universities in Olomouc and Victoria. Thanks to this, students and employees of both institutions could get to know each other more thoroughly in the study environment as well as the research, technical and administrative background of the partner school, and, of course, other geographical environments.

However, since the spring of 2020 cooperation has become very complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated anti-pandemic measures. “It was a big challenge for our established cooperation. Students nominated to study abroad for the spring 2020 semester had to wait more than two years before they were allowed to complete their desired experience. Due to the fact that, in addition, some key coordinator positions on both sides of the ocean changed, this period was even more of an ordeal. However, with the dropping of anti-pandemic measures, representatives of both institutions decided to follow up where the coronavirus interrupted the promising cooperation,” said Petr Šimáček from the Department of Geography.

The first student sent after Covid was a student of the FS Department of Geography who attended the spring semester at Camosun College. In mid-June, Camosun College foreign cooperation coordinator Marius Langeland travelled to Olomouc to take part in the International Staff Week workshop for coordinators of partner universities organized by the UP Centre for International Cooperation. Towards the end of June, he was followed by three of his academic colleagues from the School of Arts and Science, for whom representatives of the Department of Geography prepared the programme.

“One member of the Canadian delegation expressed an interest in visiting chemistry laboratories as well, and after a subsequent discussion with representatives of the Olomouc Department of Inorganic Chemistry, both parties expressed an interest in extending cooperation to this additional area,” added Šimáček.

At the beginning of July, a UP delegation headed to Camosun College, which included representatives of the Rector’s Office, the Faculty of Physical Culture, and the FS Department of. The home institution prepared a rich and inspiring programme for UP representatives, including a tour of campuses, and workshops and discussions with experts on various topics such as international partnerships and cooperation, strategy, quality of education, and “indigenization”.

“On that topic, one of the most interesting, personal, and profound discussions took place in the workshop dedicated to the management of the quality of education. The purpose of this process is to correct colonial grievances, support free education, but mainly to take into account the intellectual traditions and cultural wealth of the original North American peoples in Canadian education across fields,” said Luděk Šebek from the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at UP FPC.

The subsequent discussion revealed interesting possibilities for further expansion of cooperation with the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in the field of outdoor education. Some activities were attended by all and others, aimed at specific areas of cooperation, took place in smaller groups. “The visit also included lessons for local students, followed by an intensive and interesting discussion. Last but not least, there were a number of cultural activities that helped the UP representatives get to know the environment of the host city of Victoria and its area better. During the visit, there was also a meeting with a student of Palacký University, who evaluated the benefits of his mobility and shared the experience gained from studying and living in Canada as compared to Central Europe,” said Eva Ohnisková from the Centre for International Cooperation.

In connection with the visit of UP representatives, Camosun College declared an interest in expanding cooperation in other areas as well, e.g. biology, economics, and management studies. “On the basis of the subsequent discussion, the signing of a memorandum of understanding was therefore negotiated, which would guarantee the possibility of student exchange within all mutually compatible disciplines and study programmes. Representatives of both institutions thus not merely declared their interest in continuing mutual cooperation, for in the near future, further exchange stays of students and employees of both institutions can be expected,” added Tereza Kalousková from the Centre for International Cooperation.


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