At the end of May, 64 students of 13 nationalities concluded their semester of courses at VIU with the exam week. The semester, focused on Environmental Management and Sustainable Development, featured 25 courses taught by 19 professors from the member universities of VIU.
This result in term of students successfully concluding the courses is especially encouraging if viewed in the framework of the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, that had a very significant impact on the entire semester.
The students arrived in Venice and at VIU in February, and were able to participate in Orientation Week (and the Venice Carnival!), but sadly before classes began, the serious outbreak of Covid-19 emerged in Italy and one of the first measures introduced by the Italian Government was to suspend all teaching activities in schools and universities.
VIU responded quickly to this unprecedented challenge, and within a week we were able to offer the courses in e-learning format. The effort required from the professors, students and staff was significant, in terms of change in teaching methods, adaptation to different time zones and the use of new technologies. As more restrictions were introduced in Italy, students started to return to their home countries. Eventually the majority had to leave Venice. Nevertheless, many of them chose to continue in the VIU courses even after returning to their country of origin and notwithstanding some technical difficulties, the reduced interaction among students and the lack of the visits organized in the co-curricular program, that are usually the distinctive features of Globalization Program courses.
Appreciation of the efforts made by VIU has found expression also in the results of the midterm evaluation, where the students judged positively the transition to e-learning. Their comments will be very useful to improve the e-learning version of the VIU courses, should the need to have some online teaching arise again in the future.
We are very grateful to the Spring 2020 students, for their resilience and commitment, and to the professors for their determination and adaptability in very difficult conditions.