How can international teaching cooperation promote the skills of teachers from Ukraine under wartime conditions as well as realize a cross-university transfer of teaching content and didactic concepts? This question is addressed by a project based at Mittweida University of Applied Sciences and funded by the Foundation for Innovation in Higher Education (Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre).

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Yuliia Leheza is a professor for environmental law and energy policy at Dnipro University of Technology, Ukraine. She fled to Germany in 2022 as a result of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Living under conditions of forced immigration, she wanted to continue her development as a university teacher and scientist. She applied to participate in the project "Digital competence development through the integration of Ukrainian teachers in teaching and learning (DIKI)" at Mittweida University of Applied Sciences and took part in workshops on teaching and learning enhancement in higher education offered by the Ukraine Support Project of the HDS

As part of the DIKI project, Yuliia Leheza held a guest lecture at Mittweida University for Applied Sciences on "Environmental Strategies and future perspectives of Ukraine", which dealt – among other things – with the implementation of the Green Deal strategy and the development of a circular economy in Ukraine. The topic is interesting because experts expect that these developments provide a positive impetus for the Ukrainian energy sector. The gradual phase-out of fossil fuels and the shift towards renewable energies could create investment incentives and – in addition to reducing environmental pollution – have positive socio-economic effects in the regions. 

The lecture was aimed at students of the Bachelor's degree programme "Energy and Environmental Management" and at students of the Master's degree programme "Sustainability in Macroeconomic Cycles". The concept of the lecture and learning materials were developed in cooperation with Prof. Ralf Hartig and Christina Kolb, who say that the cooperation was a great success:
“Yuliia Leheza was able to successfully use both her specialist and interdisciplinary skills in the area of environmental law within the Faculty of Industrial Engineering as part of her teaching. At the Institute for Energy Management at Mittweida University, she has found her academic home for the exchange of knowledge on energy policy topics, such as Ukraine's energy law and its adaptation to EU requirements. We greatly value these specialist skills and see many interfaces in future cooperation in joint projects in the context of Ukraine's accession to the EU”, Ralf Hartig recalls. And Christina Kolb adds: “I saw Yuliia Lehezas participation in my course "Resource efficient production" as a great opportunity to enhance the perspective on scarce resource to an international level and challenge a discourse of Ukrainian and German viewpoints. Together, we provided the students with a different view, also in the context of Ukrainian accession to EU. I appreciated our discussion about similarities and differences in teaching at a university.” 

For Yuliia Leheza, the entire process, from the cooperative planning to the delivery of the lecture, was a unique experience:  

"It was very exciting to teach in English. We challenged ourselves with the task of not giving a boring theoretical lecture. We wanted to give the students the opportunity to work in groups and find answers together. The problems discussed by the students were, for example, the causes of the environmental crisis in the world and - in particular - the current environmental problems in Ukraine caused by the Russian occupation of Crimea and other territories."  

In addition to the fostering of active engagements through the exchange in smaller groups, Yuliia Leheza used the method of storytelling to give the students a more comprehensible approach to the content presented. She remembers one situation in particular:  

"After the lecture, the students had the opportunity to ask me questions. A question about corruption in the Ukrainian government was a big challenge for me. I talked about the ways that have already been introduced in Ukrainian society to fight corruption. And I showed the unique information sources that exist in Ukraine to get access to public environmental information, e.g. sources like "Diia" and "Ecosystem". It was very important for me to show the German students how fast Ukrainian society has changed and developed in recent years and that there may be aspects where other countries can learn from us." 

One of Yuliia Leheza's German students – Franz Kliemt – is now working at the Institute of Energy Management at Mittweida University of Applied Sciences and the two are collaborating in another project. Looking back, what does he think from a student perspective about the guest lecture?   

“It was extremely enriching for me to gain an in-depth insight into the approaches to implementing the Green Deal in Ukraine. I also found it very useful to be confronted with English content as part of my Master's degree in order to improve my language skills. Furthermore, the lecture contributed to a deeper understanding of international efforts in the field of sustainability. This led to a comprehensive broadening of the global understanding of sustainability within our seminar group. The viewpoints of other countries and their possible approaches for improvement were analyzed, which provided important impulses for our own considerations. As a result, the guest lecture strengthened our ability to reflect in the context of national efforts towards sustainable development.“ 

The example of Yuliia Leheza shows that cooperative, international teaching projects generate value for both sides. The lecture she held at Mittweida University of Applied Sciences is also available to students in Ukraine as part of a course on "Environmental Law", which is attended not only by future lawyers, but also ecologists, biologists and engineers. The professor's next project is to develop a course on "Energy Law" and “Waste Management” in cooperation with her German colleagues.  

Reflecting her teaching experience in Germany, Yuliia Leheza draws the following conclusions:  

“In the teaching and learning processes at German universities, students have more opportunities for independent learning outside the classroom than at Ukrainian universities. Furthermore, they are more comfortable working in groups – a social competence which is very useful for subsequent employment. From a teacher’s perspective, the experience of holding a guest lecture abroad is a very good opportunity to train foreign language skills and expand one’s own intercultural competencies.”


Yuliia Leheza

Kathrin Franke 


Yuliia Leheza & Kathrin Franke