Project Activities and News

Global Citizenship at the Heart of VIU's GIS Training Program in Ukraine

March 19, 2018 - 3:45pm

Courses help Ukraine government develop sustainable economic policies

NANAIMO, BC: In the spirit of global citizenship, professors from Vancouver Island University (VIU) have helped Ukraine launch a training program in Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) to support sustainable economic growth. The program is the culmination of a five-year partnership between VIU, the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI) and Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv.

VIU professors and instructors worked with their Ukrainian counterparts to co-develop six SDI courses, translate them into Ukrainian and deliver them to more than 150 Ukrainian civil servants. The aim of the partnership, funded by Global Affairs Canada, is to improve access to spatial data and web mapping technology used to support sound policy development.

“In today’s knowledge economy you cannot create good policy without accurate spatial data,” said VIU Professor Dr Michael Govorov, who attended the official launch of the new program at a conference at KPI in February. “This program is allowing the Ukrainian government to gain better insights into its economy and resources so they can address issues such as land reform, transparency, gender inequality and better respond to infrastructure needs.”

Govorov’s visit to Ukraine also marked the handover of the new program to KPI, which will now offer the courses independently.

Over the five-year partnership, Govorov and fellow GIS instructors Dave Cake, Brad Maguire, Dr Paul Zandbergen, Dr Hannah Wilson, Dr Alan Gilchrist and others trained six Ukrainian instructors to deliver the online courses, taught alongside them, and then evaluated and adjusted the materials based on the feedback of each cohort of students. To date, government workers from 46 Ukrainian state agencies have received training.

“It was a big learning curve,” said Dave Cake, newly appointed chair of Geography and post-graduate GIS programs at VIU. “We had to navigate the language differences, and learn nuances of Ukrainian culture to make the coursework understandable and applicable.”

Ukraine endured lots of upheaval over the course of the project, including Russian military intervention into the country’s eastern regions. Despite the challenges, students from 10 regions of Ukraine completed the courses, and there continues to be demand from all areas of the country.

“Our hope is that with the help of this program, Ukraine will build its internal capacity to respond to the needs of its people,” said Darrell Harvey, VIU’s International Projects Coordinator. “There is definitely the desire to do so. We are just glad we could share some of VIU’s expertise and provide some meaningful tools to support the change they are looking for.”

The project is part of broader initiatives to develop Ukraine’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure, which – put simply – are computerized maps with embedded databases that allows users to inventory and plan the use of resources and land.

Learn more about VIU’s Geography Programs and International Development Projects.  


Aly Winks, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6529 | C: 250.618.7930 | E: | T: @VIUNews


VIU instructors visited Ukraine in September 2017, supporting student orientation for two courses, SDI-04, Management Issues, and SDI-06, Web GIS and Geoportals. This visit also laid the groundwork for the project’s transition to independent course delivery by our Ukrainian partner institutions.

The fifth and sixth courses, Spatial Modeling and Applications for SDI and Web GIS and Geoportals for SDI, were also completed and made accessible to the project’s Ukrainian partners.


VIU instructors visited Ukraine in January 2016 to assist with new cohort orientations and to consult with the project’s Ukrainian partners. VIU instructors travelled to Ukraine again in September 2016 and January 2017.

VIU and Ukrainian instructors had trained nine classes by the end of 2016, comprised of 138 civil servants (more than the 100 planned for the duration of the project). Trainees came from 41 government organizations involved in building a national SDI.

The third and fourth courses, Spatial Cadastral Information Systems for SDI, and Project Management for SDI, were completed, and the fifth and sixth courses -- Spatial Modeling and Applications for SDI and Web GIS and Geoportals for SDI were in development.

The project steering committee, which met again in June 2016, continued to provide guidance and oversight to the project.


VIU instructors visited Ukraine in January and September 2015 to assist with new cohort orientations and to consult with the project’s Ukrainian partners. Student orientations included new gender equity training workshops, facilitated by the project's new Gender Analyst, Dr Julia Strebkova.

Course development and translation continued with the completion and delivery of the third course, Spatial Cadastral Information Systems for SDI.

The project steering committee met in May 2015.


Four instructors from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and two instructors from the National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyiv Polytechnic Institute" completed the instructor development workshop May 3-30, 2014 at Vancouver Island University. The program was facilitated by faculty members in VIU’s Department of Geography, with participation from other departments.

VIU instructors developed the first two courses of the program, Introduction to GIS for SDI and Database Management Systems for SDI. Gender equality – a cross-cutting theme for the project – is emphasized throughout the program by embedding gender issues in the lectures and assignments in each of the courses.

The course materials were translated and delivered to three cohorts of students (65 trainees in total). VIU instructors Dave Cake and Michael Govorov travelled to Ukraine to participate in student and instructor orientation for each of the SDI course deliveries, and to provide advice and guidance to project personnel, as well as to meet with partners and Government of Canada staff in Ukraine. VIU faculty provided mentorship throughout delivery.

Project equipment and software were installed at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Materials for the first two courses were published in a Moodle learning portal hosted by the National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”.  The project’s governance structure was also consolidated, and the first project steering committee meeting was successfully conducted on April 24, 2014.

Fall 2013

Administrative staff from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and the National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyiv Polytechnic Institute" visited Canada between October 21st and 26th, 2013.

The first two courses, Introduction to GIS for SDI and Database Management Systems for SDI were actively in development by VIU staff.

The Ukrainian project management team was working on student recruitment.

The National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyiv Polytechnic Institute” (KPI) and VIU were working on a formal project agreement.

Summer 2013

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (NUK) signed a project agreement with VIU. 
MoU between National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyiv Polytechnic Institute"(KPI) and VIU was signed in August.

Four instructors from NUK and two instructors from KPI were identified and interviewed.
Director of SSPE “Kartographia”, State Agency of Land Resources of Ukraine under the Ministry of Agriculture and Land (our main recipient) signed letter of support for participation in the project. Administration of State Agency of Land Resources of Ukraine and Department of Topographic Surveying and Mapping were updated on the project.

December 2012

Laying the Foundation for a Spatial Data Infrastructure: Building Capacity within the Ukrainian Government to Support Sustainable Economic Growth project was formally announced during a press conference at Vancouver Island University.

September 2011

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (NUK) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with VIU.