Students at the newly opened Global Development (GLODEP) Studies at the Department of Development and Environmental Studies are getting acquainted with the Faculty of Science, the university, the city itself, and Czech customs, culture, and language during their orientation week. Roughly 20 students from Nepal, Pakistan, Armenia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other countries are looking forward to a semester of studies in Olomouc, after which they will continue to France and Italy.
“About half of the students are coming from work situations, and the other half are Master’s students. They range in age from 23 to 32 years-old. In Olomouc they are taking introductions to individual disciplines, such as developmental economy, developmental geography, developmental theory, research methodology, and so on,” said the studies programme coordinator, Simona Šafaříková, from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies.
Studies will continue abroad
In January, students will move to the University of Clermont Auvergne in France and then to the University of Pavia in Italy. In the fourth semester, they will decide where they will go on an internship and there they will write their Master’s thesis. The offer is quite broad: the Royal University of Bhutan, the University of Rwanda, Alatoo in Kyrgystan, Atatürk University in Bishkek, Bethlehem University in the West Bank, and also the Université Catholique de Madagascar. Partners are made up of important non-profit organisations and firms in Czechia, France, and Italy. The programme, supported by the European Commission, is unique in the Czech Republic. It proved itself in a competition with 80 proposals, and Palacký University is in the leading position for the first time in the consortium.
“The goal of the programme is to prepare specialists in the area of development policy. Graduates can work within international and national organisations which deal with development. For example, some find positions in the non-profit sector or in firms which are aimed at sustainable economic and human development,” Šafaříková emphasised.
Olomouc captivated foreign students
Twenty-six-year-old Anissa Caesara Hidayati interrupted her work at the Ministry of Finance in Indonesia to study for two years. “I wanted to expand my knowledge, and at the same time share my experiences with my colleagues from Indonesia. Then I would like to return to my job to make use of the new knowledge,” said the student, who is not only in Czechia for the first time, but for the first time anywhere in Europe. Olomouc has captivated her, but she finds the colder weather not so pleasing.
A colleague of hers from Guatemala finished his Bachelor’s degree and was looking where he could continue his education. “I want to devote myself to development cooperation, and this programme seemed to me to be the most comprehensive. I’d like to return to Guatemala after my studies and work in the area of public policy, especially in education, because our country needs that,” said Pedro Arriaza Aldana.
Twenty-three-year-old Akos Gosztonyi has already had an internship in the European Parliament. He studied international relations, but needs to supplement his knowledge in the field of economy. “I live in the poorest part of Hungary, in the south. I'm interested in how global development principles can be applied in countries which are considered to be already developed,” said the young man, who until now has only travelled through the Czech Republic. “I had thought that I would find more of the legacy from the communist era here. But in the end, what I feel is the Central European atmosphere. So far I like it a lot, the city is beautiful,” he added.
Great experience for local academics
The presence of the group of foreign students from diverse origins and experiences is an interesting experience at the same time for both academics and students in the Olomouc department. “It is a huge enrichment to our teaching. We teach development studies and now we have people right from the countries we usually talk about. We’re looking forward as to how the discussions with people with diverse experiences will be, and how to moderate them. It is definitely beneficial for our domestic students,” says Šafaříková.
She added that interest in the study programme was enormous. Seven hundred and fifty-eight applicants from 105 countries applied, and the 20 best were accepted. Thanks to the financial support of the European Commission, received under the auspices of the Erasmus Mundi Joint Master Degree, 60 students in total will receive stipends during the four years of the programme. In addition to those receiving stipends, a limited number of other students can be accepted who will pay tuition themselves.