In September, Gerald Groshek led a two-day course exploring the foundations of macroeconomics, a subject he has taught for more than two decades. This time, however, he was instructing female Ukrainian military veterans at the National Economic University in Kyiv, Ukraine.
It was the first in a series of courses, which meet monthly over seven months, that Groshek, a professor of international economics and business at U of R’s School of Business, helped design with the support of a Public Diplomacy Grant from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
“The embassy’s grant specifically supports developing women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in commerce, finance, and economics in Ukraine,” says Groshek, whose proposal for the course, Coming Home: Educational Development and Opportunities for Veteran Women in Business, was awarded the grant. “The U.S. Embassy also funds programs, like this course, that help the Ukrainian educational system open up and have a wider approach and further exposure to Western practices.”
Chief among the attractive aspects of Groshek’s course proposal was the strong relationship that the University of Redlands already has with Kyiv’s National Economic University.
“Since 2015, the two universities have offered joint master’s-level degree programs, an MBA and a Master of International Management, for Ukrainian students,” says Groshek. “The students complete two-thirds of the program in Kyiv and one-third here at Redlands. It’s the first joint-degree program with a foreign university in the School of Business, and it’s the only one in Ukraine. Because of this, Redlands has a considerable reputation in Kyiv.”
The relationship between the two universities also enabled Ukrainian business professors to teach courses at the U of R and Redlands professors to teach in Kyiv. Ukrainian students also make shorter visits to Redlands, including for a two-week course Groshek will lead next summer at both the Redlands and Marin campuses.
The current embassy-supported course in Kyiv runs through March and is designed specifically to help female Ukrainian military veterans gain an understanding of business and boost their career prospects after military service—most of the 25 students in the class served in the eastern Ukrainian conflict with Russia.
“Coming back from the front, they may not have opportunities to reintegrate into society because many of these veterans have not had a formal education beyond high school,” says Groshek, who first visited Ukraine with a Fulbright grant in 2010 and has returned about twice a year since. “This course covers the essentials of business, finance, accounting, and marketing. It also demystifies the university environment, and we hope some may also consider getting a formal degree or credential.”
The program also supports the interests of Ukraine as the nation works to reform and move away from reliance on Russia and embrace the West, says Groshek. “Ukraine is very interested in becoming part of the European Union and wants to become more integrated with the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe.
“Russia has created a level of instability in eastern Ukraine, and we hope to do the opposite. This program with female veterans helps broaden horizons and expand opportunity on a micro level, and it has been very encouraging.”
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