February 5, 2015

2014: Academia: collaboration, closer ties with Ukraine


Vadym Gyliuk

Members of Kyiv Mohyla Foundation committees and board of directors with National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy representatives at the 400th anniversary celebration of the university held in Washington on September 16. Fifth from left is Vyacheslav Bryukhovetsky, honorary president of NUKMA; sixth from left is NUKMA President Serhiy Kvit; fourth from right is Marta Farion, president of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation; and second from right is William Green Miller, the foundation’s co-chair.

The situation in Ukraine was the primary spark in stimulating conversations and multiple collaborations between academia in the diaspora and Ukraine.

Columbia University’s spring semester started with an offering of eight courses in Ukrainian studies. Two of these courses were taught by Dr. Oksana Mykhed, a historian who obtained her Ph.D. from Harvard University, while another course was taught by Prof. Alexander Motyl, one of the most active and respected Ukrainian studies scholars in North America today. Another six courses were offered during the fall semester, when Dr. Anastasiia Grynko from the Mohyla School of Journalism in Kyiv returned to teach and Ambassador Valeriy Kuchynskyi lent his expertise on the topic of Ukraine’s foreign policy. In addition, arriving in the fall and visiting for the entire 2104-2015 academic year was Fulbright scholar Dr. Tetiana Shestopalova, professor of the Department of Ukrainian Literature and Method of its Teaching at Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National University. To round out the year, Dr. Yuri Shevchuk continued his courses on Ukrainian film and instructions in the Ukrainian language.

The fall semester at Columbia also featured the 12th installment in the Contemporary Ukrainian Literature Series, co-sponsored by the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute and the Kennan Institute in Washington. This year’s guest was writer Oleksander Boichenko, a literary critic, publicist, essayist and translator from Chernivtsi. In addition, the Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University celebrated its 10th anniversary, marking the milestone with monthly screenings of Ukrainian films throughout the academic year and a special screening of the much-talked-about film “The Guide” at which the film’s director, Oles Sanin, was present.

Students at Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit had the opportunity to study both the Ukrainian language and the rich cultural heritage of Ukraine through courses and events offered by the Slavic Program in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Ukrainian courses at WSU are designed for undergraduate students with no previous knowledge of Ukrainian, as well as for heritage speakers who would like to expand and improve their language skill. It was announced that a new course to WSU Ukrainian studies, “Introduction to Ukrainian Culture,” will be offered for the first time in winter 2015.

Penn State programs that foster collaboration between the College of Agricultural Sciences and agricultural universities in Ukraine received $100,000 from George and Nina Woskob of State College, Pa., to support the Woskob Ukraine New Century Fund, an endowment established by Mr. Woskob’s parents, Helen and Alex Woskob, in 2006. The fund is designed to promote partnerships, build institutions and create networks of support for agricultural entrepreneurs and industries as the foundation for a democratic and market-oriented Ukraine. The endowment also supports faculty development programs, graduate assistantships, and conferences and exchanges with universities and businesses in Ukraine.

Tributes to the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy held in Chicago and Washington during mid-September marked the beginning of yearlong plans to celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the founding of academy, for centuries a catalyst in educating Ukraine’s leaders. These events, presented as a “Salute to Ukraine,” were also an occasion to honor the courage of the people of Ukraine in their ongoing, heroic defense of both personal dignity and their nation’s independence. The first event was held at the University Club of Chicago on September 14 and was co-sponsored with the Chicago Kyiv Sister Cities Committee. On September 16, in the large Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, U.S. Reps. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and other members of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, the Helsinki Commission and Freedom House were among those honored during the celebration. The event was hosted by the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America, the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus and the Embassy of Ukraine.

A workshop funded by the Killam Foundation at the University of Alberta was held at St. Benedict’s Retreat and Conference Center to explore how scholars – specifically the faculty at the University of Alberta and Cape Breton University involved in the Sanctuary Project – might work with the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of Canada to help them utilize academic research in Church decision-making related to demographic changes. The goal of the Sanctuary Project, which is based at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta, is to document the Ukrainian spiritual heritage on the Canadian prairies.

A scholarly gathering on the subject of “Canada, the Great War and the Internment of Enemy Aliens, 1914-1920” was successfully held in Banff, appropriately at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, a facility originally built by internee labor during the war. The October 17-18 event was organized by the Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Center at CIUS in collaboration with the University of Alberta’s Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies. The other key partners in the project were Canada’s First World War Internment Recognition Fund and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation. Attendees had an opportunity to hear talks about the impact of World War I on Ukrainians and other immigrants to Canada from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta, together with the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies (CFUS) and Peter Savaryn, a well-known Ukrainian Canadian activist, announced the launch of the Peter and Olya Savaryn Award. The award is intended to support a range of scholarly and educational projects at CIUS. The Peter Savaryn Award for Contributions to the Development of Ukrainian Studies was originally created by CFUS in 1996 and matched in value by Mrs. Savaryn with a personal donation in 1997. Since then, the principal of the fund has remained intact and has now generated an amount sufficient for an annual award.

Ukrainians Abroad: News and Views, the e-bulletin of the Ukrainian Diaspora Studies Initiative (UDSI) at CIUS, released its 100th issue in 2014. Compiled by Dr. Serge Cipko, UDSI coordinator, the newsletter brings together news stories relating to Ukrainians outside Ukraine and is sent to recipients on six continents.

Canadian and Ukrainian archeologists and historians continued their excavations in the town of Baturyn, Chernihiv Oblast. Prof. Zenon Kohut, the leading historian of the Hetman state and former director of CIUS at the University of Alberta, heads this project. Last year, nearly 70 students and scholars from the universities of Chernihiv, Hlukhiv and Sumy, as well as the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy participated in the Baturyn archeological expedition. Since 2001, Canadian and Ukrainian archaeologists and historians have cooperated in exploring the antiquities of Baturyn. Archaeologists have established that this settlement emerged in the late 11th century as a border fortress of the Chernihiv principality and flourished during the reign of the eminent Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1709). Excavations in the town and the dissemination of the findings have been sponsored by the Kowalsky Program for the Study of Eastern Ukraine at CIUS at the University of Alberta, the Shevchenko Scientific Society of America, the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto and the Ucrainica Research Institute in Toronto.

Conferences and roundtables

La Salle University’s Diplomat-in-Residence Program, in cooperation with the Central and Eastern European Studies program and the Multicultural and International Center, sponsored a one-day conference on the latest developments in Ukraine. The March 12 event attracted more than 80 people, including students and faculty from La Salle and neighboring universities, as well as members of the local Ukrainian community.

Prof. Zenon E. Kohut was honored on his 70th birthday with a roundtable discussion on the history of the Ukrainian Kozak Hetmanate held on June 26 in Kyiv.

Prof. Zenon E. Kohut was honored on his 70th birthday with a roundtable discussion on the history of the Ukrainian Kozak Hetmanate held on June 26 in Kyiv.

On the 25th anniversary of the emergence of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church from the underground in the Soviet Union, the M.A. program in Central and Eastern European Studies at LaSalle University, in cooperation with the St. Sophia Religious Association U.S.A., the Shevchenko Scientific Society U.S.A., the Ukrainian Free University Foundation and the Lypynsky East European Research Institute, hosted an international scholarly conference. The keynote address at this conference was delivered by Geffrey Kelly (Department of Religion, La Salle University), who focused on the life and activities of the German theologian and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) and the numerous parallels between the life of the Church under National Socialism and Communism.

The Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Modern Ukrainian History and Society, together with the Institute for Historical Research, Ivan Franko Lviv National University and the Humanities Department of the Ukrainian Catholic University, organized a conference on “The First World War: The Ukrainian Dimension.” The conference, held on September 12-14, had an international character and drew scholars from Austria, Canada, Germany, Israel and the United States. The core of the conference was presentations made by mostly younger historians from different regions of Ukraine, including those that are now in the zone of the anti-terrorist operation. The conference was co-sponsored by the Austrian Bureau for Academic Cooperation and the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

On September 20, the Shevchenko Scientific Society hosted its first event of the new 2014-2015 academic year: a roundtable dedicated to the ongoing situation in Ukraine titled “War and Peace in Ukraine: What Next?” The panel included Prof. George Grabowicz (Harvard University), Ambassador Kuchynskyi and Prof. Iryna Vushko (Hunter College), and was emceed by Prof. Alexander Motyl (Rutgers University).

To mark the 70th birthday of Prof. Kohut, director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) from 1994 to 2012, a roundtable discussion on the history of the Ukrainian Kozak Hetmanate was held in Kyiv. The event was co-organized by CIUS, the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Historical Memorial Museum, the Peter Jacyk Program for the Study of Contemporary History and Society, and the Institute of Ukrainian Archaeography and Source Studies (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine). The roundtable was held on June 26 at the Hrushevsky Memorial Museum, where the historian and his family resided from the 1920s to the 1940s. The celebratory address was delivered by the museum’s director, Svitlana Pankova, who spoke on behalf of the co-organizers.

“A New Eastern Europe? Eastern Europe in World History and World Politics, 1914-2014” was the title of a roundtable discussion organized by the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Modern Ukrainian History and Society, together with the bimonthly English-language journal New Eastern Europe (Wrocław and Gdańsk, Poland). The roundtable took place within the framework of the Lviv Book Forum on September 12. The discussion was inspired by a suggestion from Prof. Roman Szporluk, a member of the New Eastern Europe editorial board, that the word “Eastern” be dropped from the title of the journal to better reflect current realities in the context of the Euro-Maidan and its aftermath.


The book “Between Hitler and Stalin: Ukraine in World War II – The Untold Story,” co-authored by Wsevolod W. Isajiw, Andrew Gregorovich and Oleh S. Romanyshyn, was planned as a companion for those who saw the film by the same name, providing the reader with interesting basic knowledge about 20th century Ukraine. However, the book goes beyond the content of the film by providing the background for an understanding of a national political movement, including the story of Carpatho-Ukraine and the Ukrainian nationalist movement, particularly during the German and Soviet occupations and ending with the Proclamation of Ukrainian independence in 1991.

“The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union,” by Serhii Plokhy, was released in 2014.

“The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union,” by Serhii Plokhy, was released in 2014.

Serhii Plokhy’s newest book, “The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union,” examines the events surrounding the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Based on recently declassified documents and original interviews with key participants, Dr. Plokhy presented a new interpretation of the Soviet Union’s final months, arguing that the key to the collapse was not, as President George H. W. Bush proclaimed, a triumph of Western democracy, but the inability of the two largest Soviet republics, Russia and Ukraine, to agree on the continuing existence of a unified state.

In “After the Holodomor: The Enduring Impact of the Great Famine on Ukraine,” published by the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, the contributing editors Dr. Andrea Graziosi, Dr. Lubomyr Hajda and Dr. Halyna Hryn, used more than 20 years of research from archives opened since the collapse of the Soviet Union to gain a better understanding of the Holodomor’s impact on Ukraine. Divided into two parts – short- and long-term consequences – the book gives a comprehensive assessment of the information that has been examined by leading scholars of the subject.

On October 11, the Shevchenko Scientific Society hosted a presentation of the book “Literature, Exile, Alterity: The New York Group of Ukrainian Poets,” written by Prof. Maria G. Rewakowicz, who is affiliated with the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Washington. The book, published by Academic Study Press in 2014, is based on her dissertation about the New York Group, concentrating on works of seven original members of the Group: Bohdan Boychuk, Yuri Tarnavsky, Bohdan Rubchak, Patricia Kylyna, Zhenia Vasylkivska, Emma Andriewska and Vira Vovk. This study, based largely on the archival collections of the New York Group that are preserved at the Bakhmetyev Archive at Columbia University and at the Central-State Museum-Archive of Literature and Art in Kyiv.


Scholars from Canada, France, Italy, Hong Kong, England, Ukraine and the United States gathered in Toronto on September 26-27 to examine and compare the Ukrainian, Kazakh, Chinese and Soviet famines at the conference “Communism and Hunger.” The conference, organized by the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, explored the similarities and differences between these political famines.

Anne Applebaum delivers the annual Ukrainian Famine Lecture in Toronto on October 9.


Anne Applebaum delivers the annual Ukrainian Famine Lecture in Toronto on October 9.

Five researchers recently gathered for two days of intense discussion at the Holodomor Workshop in Toronto. The event allowed scholars early in their careers to present preliminary findings and to benefit from in-depth engagement with peers and established experts, explained Olga Andriewsky, professor of history at Trent University and one of the workshop facilitators. The workshop was organized by the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium in cooperation with the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center at St. Vladimir Institute in Toronto.

The Toronto Annual Ukrainian Famine Lecture was delivered on October 9 by the celebrated writer Anne Applebaum, who spoke on the Holodomor and its relation to current events in a talk titled “Why Stalin Feared Ukraine and Why Putin Fears It Today.” The event was organized by the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta; the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine; the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies; and the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Toronto. Ms. Applebaum began her presentation by describing how Joseph Stalin’s early career later shaped his policies in Ukraine.