IRCEF-Study is a comprehensive project to help university graduates, postgraduates, and young scientists to undergo (on an interdisciplinary basis) practice in environmental organizations, NGOs, and research centers in Germany and Western Europe in general. Environmental knowledge, competencies, and practice today are a constituent of various spheres of social life and it is important that they be mastered by specialists of different specialties from Ukraine and Eastern Europe.
We are aware of two key and equally difficult challenges for Ukraine and Eastern Europe:
The first of them is the lack of practical skills and knowledge in the field of environmental protection among specialists (economists, lawyers, journalists, biologists, agricultural specialists, etc.). They lack experience of civic engagement, skills to multiply environmental values and behaviors in society.
The second problem is embryonic ideas about environmental protection and related aspects of social life (economics, politics, production, social sphere, etc.) among representatives of various humanitarian professions. And the ecosphere is without a doubt – the knowledge necessary in production, and in jurisprudence, and in agriculture, and in the economy, and in many other areas and industries.
More than 10 years ago, the Institute of Ecological and Religious Studies (IERS), one of the IRCEF founders, began this activity in the context of an acute shortage in Ukraine not only of specialists in the field of environmental protection but also of people able to combine their profession with environmental knowledge and practice in scientific centers, environmental NGOs in Germany, structural environmental units of Western Churches. Responsibility for the Creation/protection of Nature is an integral part of both Christian and universal ethics.
And if IERS managed during this time to train more than 11 scholars from all over Ukraine, then IRCEF seeks to implement the same task on the territory of the Eastern Partnership countries.
We strive to give comprehensiveness to all environmental initiatives in Ukraine and the Eastern Partnership countries, united by common social circumstances and similar environmental problems common to the post-Soviet space and the transforming post-Soviet societies.
It is obvious that such competencies are lacking in the civil sector, so we sent scholars to the German Nature Conservation Union (NABU), Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU, Munich), Heidelberg University, where civic engagement and applied knowledge are combined. Also, this knowledge and skills is not enough for the Church, and therefore we cooperate in this direction with such international religious organizations as the European Christian Ecological Network (ECEN), the German Catholic dioceses of Cologne, Bamberg, Aachen, Passau, the Environmental and climate protection office of the North District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany in Hamburg.
And to strengthen the interaction of civil, scientific and religious organizations in the field of environmental protection, NABU – one of the largest environmental civil organizations in Europe and the world – is implementing a separate direction – Kirchenprojekt.
As part of this our activity (which is now developing into an advisory and educational center), we work in three areas:
- attraction of partners – such as DBU, BMZ, NABU, – advertising of their capabilities, as well as the search and selection of students from educational institutions of Ukraine and the EaP countries;
- assessment of the competencies of future scholars, preliminary consulting them on the themes of practice, selection of optimal themes and forms of scholarship in Germany, preliminary assessment and assistance in the development of their themes;
- consulting support in preparation for practice, paperwork, adaptation to the conditions of practice in Germany.
To this we add:
- assistance in the multipurpose use of the results of practice in the future – this can be both scientific work, and an important part of professional skills / competencies and a component of future civic initiatives;
- the potential for grant or volunteer implementation of the theme of your practice in Ukraine.