Gunta Kalvāne is a lead researcher and assistant professor at the University of Latvia, Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences. Main research interests are bioclimatology, especially seasonality in nature, climate changes, education for sustainable development, climate education, citizen science and science communication. Currently working on the new doctoral model implementation at University of Latvia. The head of Eco-council at University of Latvia. After 4 months at the University at Buffalo, we asked her if the university teacher at the University at Buffalo differ from the academic staff of Latvia? Here’s her take on it:
“From freedom to conservatism!
It seems these two words best describe university teachers at the University at Buffalo – from complete freedom in words and visual appearance to utmost classicism/strictness both in clothing and study course rules. The academic staff, just like students, at the University at Buffalo is diverse, and this is undoubtedly an advantage of the university. One of my tutors is a free-thinker who comes to work wearing shorts and a T-shirt with the slogan “LOVE”. Free in his expressions, he’s not shying away from four-letter words. He is also flexible in his demands, always offering several versions of tasks and options for how to submit them (audio, visual, etc.). In contrast, lectures from another tutor can be described by complete silence and a prohibition on using cell phones. All study papers must be handed in in paper form, strictly complying with the technical requirements, and tests also happen in complete silence in paper form.
No matter how many different teaching approaches are there, one thing is constant: the interest in the student. In my study courses, university teachers assess all works in a detailed manner, provide constructive feedback, always clarify what is unclear, send additional materials, and are supportive and interested in the development of each student. “Come talk to me if you need” is a classic sentence to end a lecture, and students often do just that.
I am amazed by the professionalism of university teachers, their ability to moderate discussions and ask the right questions, proving that they have read many scientific publications before the lecture. They are always well-prepared for their classes.
In August, we had already established a calendar plan for almost all of our study courses, detailing what publications we would read in October, when exams would take place, and what kind/when homework was planned. All evaluations were immediately visible on the platform.
Open, structured, professional, and interested – these four words characterize my lecturers at the University at Buffalo best.”
The Buffalo program promotes the introduction of innovations and digitization in higher education, as well as the transfer of world experience to Latvian universities. The project is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERAF) in project no. 126.96.36.199/18/I/008 “Support for RTU international cooperation projects in research and innovation” allocated funds. Riga Business School implements and coordinates the program as a structural unit of RTU in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science.