The conference“International and domestic networking in the context of Diversity” as part of the TEMPUS project was held from May 18th – 22nd 2014 at the Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University. Scientists from 20 partner universities from different countries like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany, Italy, USA, Turkey, Poland, and Denmark attended the conference. The aim of the conference was to discuss organization and implementation of international and regional networking between the universities and social institutions in the context of Diversity.
On May 19th Prof. Dr. Viktor Weber, Rector of the Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University, Prof. Dr. Michael Pevsner Vice-Rector for International Affairs Alexander Smirnov, Deputy Governor of the Novgorod region, Anton Zemlyak Deputy Mayor of Veliky Novgorod Prof. Dr. Vladimir Timofeev, Chairman of Veliky Novgorod City Duma Dr. Michael Kleineberg, Director of DAAD Information Centre in Saint Petersburg Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, Associate Vice Chancellor for International Education and Development at Appalachian State University (USA) and Prof. Dr. Nikolay Yokhna , Vice-Rector for International Affairs at National Khmelnitsky University (Ukraine), held the opening speech.
The Rector of the Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University, Prof. Dr. Victor Weber, stressed the cooperation of the university with 57 other universities from 29 countries and that the international collaboration is the primary focus, which is constantly developing: from pedagogy to medicine, engineering, IT-technologies etc. Besides, he was glad to welcome the “old friends” and the new partners. The Deputy Governor of the Novgorod region, Alexander Smirnov, introduced the region to the guests and underlined its open politics towards foreign investment. The region is trying to build up its economic potential, what would be impossible without the highly qualified specialists educated at the university by its colleagues.
The Director of DAAD Information Centre in Saint Petersburg, Dr. Michael Kleineberg, was impressed by the friendly atmosphere, which gives hope for a successful collaboration. The Associate Vice Chancellor for International Education and Development at Appalachian State University (USA), Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, admitted feeling comfortable as if among friends.
The Vice-Rector for International Affairs at National Chmelnitsky University (Ukraine), Prof. Dr. Nikolay Yokhna, noted that he had already visited many international conferences at Novgorod University and they had been always well organized with an interesting and full program. The Vice-Rector for International Affairs, Prof. Dr. Michael Pevsner, called the conference “one of the most important events of the university”. He also pointed out that the society was becoming more heterogeneous: numerous migrants, national and ethnic minorities, socially vulnerable groups, persons with impairments need a specific and individualized educational approach. In that regard TEMPUS project is dedicated to studying this problem and searching for its solutions and the participants from 20 universities are going to work on it.
The most important events were: plenary meeting, three workshops, training for IT-Managers, and visiting institutions with inclusive setting. There were 30 scientific reports presented at the conference: Prof. Dr. Olga Graumann, project coordinator, , University of Hildesheim (Germany), reported on a model of networking in the education landscape in Germany. Prof. Dr. Nina Litvinova (Russia) gave a speech about „Learning region – lifelong development of the educational potential of an adult“.
Dr. Diana Spulber (Link Campus University of Rome, Italy) reported on the problems of the inclusive education in Italy. Prof. Dr. Larisa Bajkova, the Ryazan State University, presented a scientific explanation of tutors’ expertise concerning heterogeneous groups of students and parents.
Dr. Nikolay Lebedev, the Vice-Rector for Educational Affairs at the Mozyr State University (Belarus), demonstrated educational organization of foreign students on the example of his university. Prof. Dr. Galina Nesterenko, head of Innovation Institution and IT-Technologies at the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University (Ukraine), reported on “Postgraduate education as an efficient training activity for teachers to work with heterogeneous groups”.
Prof. Dr. Olga Krylova, Vice-Rector for Research at the St. Petersburg Academy (Russia), spoke on the subject “Research on the educational needs of differentiated groups of pupils: Theory and Praxis”. Dr. Ekaterina Tikhomirova, head of the Department for Social Work, Pedagogy and Psychology at the Vologda State University (Russia), reported on the education of handicap students in Russian universities.
The workshops took place at the Institute of Continuous Pedagogical Education at the Novgorod State University and were dedicated to the three current issues: „Networking of the educational and public institutions in intercultural society“ (presented by: I. Ushanova, O. Gurenko);
„ Inclusion peculiarities of handicap children into the educational landscape of the region“ (presented by: M. Kalashnikova, V. Sokolova);
„Peculiarities of the learning and educational processes under the heterogeneous conditions“ (presented by: M. Zvyaglova, N. Evteshina).
As part of the conference there was organized a two-day course for IT-Managers in the competence centre, which is mentored by Konstantin Krasnoshhyokov. IT-managers from 15 member universities took part in it. Participants had a chance to learn the equipment for the visually and hearing impaired bought within the TEMPUS project. Besides, they were informed on how to develop e-courses for the visually and hearing impaired. Patrick O’Shi, Appalachian State University, told about up-to-date IT-technologies in the sphere of education.
Fitting to the program there was a visit in the educational inclusive institutions in Novgorod organized, such as grammar school “Novoskul”, secondary school No.34 and grammar school No.4. The participating scientists had a possibility to see how the federal long-term program “Creating an inclusive milieu” was realized at grammar school “Novoskul”. They also visited various lessons and the library with psychological counseling, vision and sense of hearing prevention and improvement. At secondary school No.34 they discussed “Modifying the school environment according to the educational and social needs of the children in the district” and visited centre for early childhood development “Kroshka Enot” as well as the centre for pre-school education. After an introductory visit of grammar school No.4 the guests participated in the seminar “Working with heterogeneous groups in the grammar school”. It included presentations and lectures of the teachers on various subjects like: “Peculiarities of a heterogeneous group in the grammar school – our learning path”, “A comprehensive support and advice for the pupils in a modern grammar school”, “Individual learning paths for pupils”, “A talented child. How is it like?”, “Inclusive education. Profile of the pedagogue”
On the last conference day, 15 coordinators from member universities held a meeting. Having led the research, Natalya Bogatenkova (Academy for Further Education, St. Petersburg) presented the results and the methods of the research targeted on heterogeneous groups and their special needs. Additionally, upcoming activities were specified and responsibilities distributed. It includes working on the competence catalogue, development of Bachelor program modules, questioning of pedagogues and education managers on their needs, further professional education of the education managers in the region, possible training programs for the module developers in the EU universities; first evaluation measures, layout and maintenance of the website. The upcoming conferences in September in Vitebsk “Giftedness and Creativity” and in Bremen “Competence oriented development of modules” were also submitted for consideration. The participants were informed on the monitoring that had taken place in the national bureaus. Deadlines for the development of the following textbooks were specified: “Inclusive Education in different East- and West-European countries”, „Diversity Management in heterogeneous Organizations“ and „Pedagogy of the Diversity“. Open issues relating to the project management were discussed.