Interview with a participant from the TWE+ pilot project

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Justas Kažys

Vilnius University

Faculty of Chemistry and Geosciences, Institute of Geosciences 

How did you hear about this teaching mobility?

The International Office at my university in Vilnius sent me an email about the TWE+ pilot project in Beauvais. The topic was climate challenges which is my field, so I applied and then I received a positive answer from UniLaSalle.

What motivated you to participate?

I wanted to think ’outside of the box’, and I thought within this project I will have the opportunity to do so. I also wanted to motivate and engage students and other participants to think about climate change in a different perspective. This topic is really wide, it has not only impact on the nature, but it also has social and psychological aspects. I wanted to communicate my message because I have a lot to say about climate challenges. Another reason for me to apply was that I was curious about the master’s students in France, their background and their interpretation of climate challenges.

What did you expect from this mobility?

I was asked to write some proposals during the application procedure, and I already expected to give lectures on climate issues, and to engage in dynamic and diverse discussion about climate challenges. Besides the lectures, I had the chance to do more interactive things with the students. In the first days the students were not so active, but then their engagement raised rapidly. We had a chance not just for teacher-student discussions, but grown-up conversations about climate issues and solutions. I expected to start something really new, and I am happy that I could participate in this pilot project.

Which part did you find the most useful?

It is hard to give an answer just yet, but Nathalie’s (Nathalie Schnuriger, organizer on behalf of UniLaSalle) energy and ideas was inspiring. I will use this inspiration in my work later. I tend to put too much information into my seminars, but Nathalie showed me how to focus on the most important things.

I liked the way how the topic of climate change can be softened and focused around small details, such as vegan activities and conversation about plastic waste.

Teachers with different background can also have valuable additions to the topic. For example, how to communicate about this topic. The other guest teacher, Anna is coming from linguistics, and showed an example of having a different approach.

I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the mobility week; it was inspiring for me to work with the students and other teachers. We did not know each other before, but we quickly found our way to work as a team.

I liked how direct communication worked within the group and that it added value to our content.

What would you add to the mobility week?

I need to think about it, but maybe more publicity about the program. Some public events were already cancelled due to the new coronavirus situation.

Involving a greater audience is important, because climate challenges are not obvious to many people. It is important to share information with local citizens as well. During the mobility week we were in a safe environment, but we should go out and tell people on the street about climate change, ask their opinion about it and see how they perceive this topic.

It can be a continuing process to always find new ways to talk about climate change and improve the content and methods of this pilot project in the future.

I hope we can use our relationship that we formed during this mobility week to create new projects together. It opens many new opportunities in the future, maybe a longer program can grow out of this week.

As someone from natural sciences, the communication part was useful for me, it helped me to develop different skills, others than I usually use in natural sciences.

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