Discussion by the Natolin Religion and Politics Nest - "Secularisation of Societies: Destiny or Normality?"
On 20 February 2024, the Natolin Religion and Politics Nest hosted a discussion titled Secularisation of Societies: Destiny or Normality?
As the first reports on COVID-19 appeared in Europe in early 2020, we started to make plans and react. Our main goal throughout the whole pandemic has been to keep our community safe while making sure that students can carry out their studies and enjoy all the opportunities the Natolin campus has to offer.
We want to make sure that all students, staff, and visiting professors feel safe and confident on campus. As such, we instituted a series of policies and pledges, outlined below, that help to structure our work. We implemented regular community-wide testing on campus and continued to work closely with the community, regularly meeting with individuals, groups, and our student representatives. There was no disruption in the teaching, research, or admissions processes.
While classes switched to the hybrid model, the majority of the academic programme was delivered in person throughout the previous academic year. We successfully staged the off-campus study trips, as well as all extracurricular activities, academic debates, and other events, including VIP visits. They were conducted either entirely on-site or in the hybrid format with online elements. Language classes, the professional skills building programme and career orientation were also undisrupted and delivered on-site whenever possible.
Having gained a lot of practical experience in ensuring a safe environment on campus for our entire community, we remain committed to upkeeping the highest safety standards and to fulfilling the following pledges also in the academic year 2023/2024.
Natolin Pledge 1 // Vaccination and regular testing
In the academic year 2023/2024 we pledge to assist our students with vaccination against COVID-19 in Warsaw.
Natolin Pledge 2 // Innovative learning
We are prepared to continue hybrid teaching. A number of our classes take the form of in-person instructions, some are conducted remotely. All in-person classes also include a remote connection for students who cannot be physically present in the classroom.
This shift did require some changes in the way we teach. We have formed a dedicated on-campus team that looks at blended learning pedagogies and strategies, briefing professors therein. We have also made significant new investments in ICT equipment to support more effective remote learning.
Natolin Pledge 3 // Community outreach
We recognise that on-campus safety requires community effort. It is only by working together and looking out for each other that we can stay safe. We are therefore in constant dialogue with our student community, discussing our pandemic response with the student representatives.
Natolin Pledge 4 // Support for every student
We provide counselling support to any student who might require such. Every student in (self-)isolation receives full support from the Natolin community, including food, book, and medicine deliveries. Finally, we will host any student who cannot travel home, either for the winter break or in the weeks after the conclusion of the academic year, on our campus.
Natolin Pledge 5 // A safer campus
We have redesigned parts of our campus with student and staff safety in mind. This includes ventilation upgrades in common rooms, plexiglass screens in the campus restaurant, and readily available hand sanitizer in every classroom, common room, and at the entrances to all buildings. All rooms are regularly cleaned and professionally disinfected.
Natolin Pledge 6 // A team of experts
We have built up a dedicated pandemic response team that includes an experienced epidemiologist and legal advisors. This team helps us navigate both the ongoing epidemiological situation and better understand government responses in Poland and beyond. We regularly share the team’s findings with our community, informing it of any changes in Polish or international regulations.