Drs. Kathy Nantz and David Schmidt traveled to Ukraine with American Councils for International Education to support academic integrity as a core component of Ukrainian higher education.
One of the cornerstones of an education at Fairfield is the pursuit of academic excellence. This is made possible in an atmosphere where discovery and communication of knowledge are marked by scrupulous, unqualified honesty. Not every higher education institution in other parts of the world, however, has had the opportunity to establish the same level of academic integrity.
As part of a four-year partnership, Kathy Nantz, PhD, chair of the Economics Department, and David Schmidt, PhD, director of the Center of Applied Ethics, traveled to Ukraine in partnership with American Councils for International Education. The purpose of their trips to cities across Ukraine has been to contribute to the Strengthening Academic Integrity in Ukraine Project (SAIUP), a partnership with the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and American Councils for International Education.
The partnership with American Councils stemmed from earlier work Dr. Nantz led in central Asia. There, she led faculty workshops to improve business education in the region. Teams of Fairfield University faculty – including Ahmed Ebrahim, PhD, associate professor of Accounting; Don Gibson, PhD, vice provost of the Office of Academic Affairs; Joan Lee, PhD, professor of Accounting; Dr. Schmidt from the Dolan School; and Betsy Bowen, PhD, professor of English from the College of Arts and Sciences – engaged faculty participants in activities focused on active learning pedagogies. Nantz and Schmidt have now partnered with American Councils to carry on similar work in Ukraine by travelling to cities across the country to conduct presentations on the importance of ethics in higher education.
According to American Councils, “The current [Ukranian] higher education system remains academically, administratively, and financially reminiscent of the early post-Soviet era that was marked by corruption.” To combat academic misconduct, 10 Ukrainian universities have joined the SAIUP project to support sustainable change for education in Ukraine. The goal of the project is to establish academic integrity as a key component of the university system in the country.
During their first visit to Ukraine in 2015, Nantz and Schmidt visited the capital of Kiev and worked with Ukrainian faculty through personal development workshops using case studies to illustrate various academic ethics scenarios. In their second visit in 2016, they used active role-plays with faculty members to help them develop their own case studies from personal experience to explore ways to enforce academic integrity in their schools.
“During our last trip to Ukraine we focused on Article 42 which is legislation passed by the Ukrainian government that articulates standards in academic integrity for the country,” said Nantz. “This is a big step for Ukraine and articulates how people understand academic integrity in their own context.”
Most recently Nantz and Schmidt conducted faculty and student academic integrity workshops in Kiev, Sumy, and Kharkiv. They visited several universities to speak with university rectors (presidents), groups of leading faculty, and students. Nantz and Schmidt’s presentation at Sumy State University even attracted regional news coverage. Meetings ranged from large audiences of packed lecture halls to small conference rooms, but the same message from students was clear; Ukrainian students are genuinely concerned about the value of their degrees and are highly motivated to improve the ethical climate in their schools.
SAIUP is actively working with Ukranian students to develop advertising campaigns to combat academic corruption. There is potential for Drs. Nantz and Schmidt to continue their work in Ukraine next year.