January 25, 2019

2018: Academia: Conferences, courses and curricula


Kristina Conroy

Prof. Serhii Plokhii won the Shevchenko National Prize in March for his book “The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine.”

Academia held many conferences about the Holodomor, and its place within genocide studies was often the topic of discussion this year. Ukrainian language offerings are becoming widespread at universities, as are Ukrainian studies programs. In addition, 2018 often saw Ukraine as the focus of many research projects, books and presentations.

Columbia University’s spring 2018 offerings in Ukrainian studies included seven courses – “Fin De Siècle Ukrainian Literature: Beauty, Duty and Decadence,” with instruction by Dr. Mark Andryczyk; “Eurasian Urbanisms: From the Imperial to the Post-Soviet” with Dr. Markian Dobczansky; “Today’s Ukraine: Power Politics and Diplomacy” with Ambassador Valeriy Kuchynskyi; “Post/Sovietological Debates: Contentious Issues and Non-Issues in Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies” with Dr. Alexander Motyl; as well as elementary, intermediate and advanced Ukrainian language instruction by Dr. Yuri Shevchuk. 

For the spring semester, presentations included book presentations by Dr. Maria G. Rewakowicz, “Ukraine’s Quest for Identity Embracing Cultural Hybridity in Literary Imagination, 1991-2011,” and Marci Shore, “The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution”; a lecture by Dr. Tamara Martsenyuk, “Ukrainian Women at War: The Successes and Challenges of the ‘Invisible Battalion’ ”; as well as film screenings hosted by Dr. Shevchuk, director of the Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University. 

Fall semester offerings included Dr. Dobczansky’s aforementioned course, Dr. Motyl’s multi-disciplinary course, “Ukraine in New York,” Ambassador Kuchynsyi’s course “Ukrainian Foreign Policy: Russia, Europe and the U.S.,” Dr. Shevchuk’s “Soviet, Post-Soviet, Colonial and Post-Colonial Cinema,” as well as the three levels of Ukrainian language instruction. 

Presentations for the fall semester included: “language Politics and International Relations: A Controversy over the New Ukrainian Education Law” by Volodymyr Kulyk on September 25; “Soviet Americana: The Cultural History of Russian and Ukrainian Americanists” by Sergei Zhuk on October 16; “The Rule of Law, Corruption and Ukraine” by Bohdan Vitvitsky on November 1; a book presentation by Yuri Andrukhovych, “My Final Territory: Selected Essays” on November 13; as well as regular film screenings hosted by the Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University. 

The Kyiv Mohyla School of Journalism’s StopFake.org was cited in a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report, “Putin’s Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security,” on January 10. The report recognized StopFake – which has been featured repeatedly on major networks and print media in 11 languages – as a cutting-edge innovation to counter Russian disinformation. Launched in March 2014, contributors include alumni and students of the School of Journalism and the Digital Future of Journalism professional program for journalists and editors. They are joined by many journalists, marketing specialists, programmers, translators and others.

An international scholarly conference was held on January 20-21 in New York on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Ukrainian Revolution and the proclamation of Ukraine’s independence in 1918. The conference was co-sponsored by the Shevchenko Scientific Society, the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Ukrainian Institute of America. The keynote speaker was Vladyslav Verstiuk, director of the European Institute of Sciences of Ukraine, who expanded on the topic “The Impact of Revolutionary Events of 1917-1921 on the History of Ukraine in the 20th Century.” The roots of Ukraine’s current independence and national identity, he noted, can be traced to Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1918. Other scholars from leading institutions in Ukraine, Canada and the United States delivered presentations on various aspects of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921, including political, historical, cultural and diaspora perspectives.

Prof. Serhii Plokhii was awarded the Shevchenko National Prize in March for his book, “The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine.” The prize, founded in 1961 on the centenary of the death of national poet and artist Taras Shevchenko, is one of the most prestigious distinctions a work of literature, non-fiction or art can receive in Ukraine. The book was nominated in the non-fiction and journalism category that came for the first time in 2018 as separate prizes were awarded for fiction and non-fiction. Winners in other categories of the Shevchenko National Prize for 2018 included Emma Andrijewska (literature), Victoria Poleva (music), Pavlo Makov (visual arts), and Volodymyr Tykhyi, Yaroslav Polunskiy, Serhiy Stetsenko and Yurii Hryzunov (cinema).


Demographer Oleh Wolowyna lectures about Holodomor studies on February 22 in Toronto.

Demographer Oleh Wolowyna, professor-emeritus at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, presented a lecture on February 22 in Toronto on the topic “Regarding Questions about the Study of the Holodomor.” The event was sponsored by the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (Canadian Institute of Canadian Studies, University of Alberta), the John Yaremko Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto, the Shevchenko Scientific Society of Canada, the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center, the Ucrainica Research Institute and the BCU Foundation’s Yurij Skripchinski Holodomor Education Fund. 

Prof. Wolowyna’s presentation, based on research during the previous five years in cooperation with the Institute of Demography and Social Sciences of Ukraine, focused on the issue of how many lives were lost during the Holodomor. He presented the results of research conducted together with his research team and the methodology used in determining mortality rates at both the oblast (provincial) and raion (county) levels. The research showed 8.73 million deaths across the entire Soviet Union, while in Ukraine the death toll was 3.92 million, 3.26 million for Russia, including the Kuban region; and 1.26 million in Kazakhstan. Coming to a fact-based consensus on the number of victims was imperative for broader recognition of the genocidal nature of the Holodomor, Prof. Wolowyna argued.

The Contemporary Ukraine Studies Program (CUSP) at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta launched its newly redesigned and updated website on February 15. The CUSP replaced the Center for Political and Regional Studies founded in 2013. The initiative, conceived by Dr. Volodymyr Kravchenko, focuses on issues facing contemporary Ukraine with conferences, seminars and public lectures. The program also provides post-doctoral study opportunities through the Stasiuk Program for the Study of Contemporary Ukraine and the Kowalsky Program for the Study of Eastern Ukraine. The program aims to explore the developmental path of post-Soviet Ukraine while focusing on contemporary politics and on urban, regional and cultural studies. Events in 2018 included international conferences on Ukrainian-Polish relations and exploring the Black Sea region as a contact zone of civilizations and cultures. 

CIUS/Oleksandr Pankieiev

Jars Balan, director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, delivers the Bohdan Bociurkiw Memorial Lecture in at St. John’s Cultural Center in Edmonton on March 14.

The Bohdan Bociurkiw Memorial Lecture this year was “An Unorthodox History of the 1918 Founding of the Ukrainian (Greek) Orthodox Church in Canada,” delivered by Jars Balan on March 14 at St. John’s Cultural Center in Edmonton, Alberta. Mr. Balan is director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, which sponsored the lecture, and he is administrative coordinator of the Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Center at CIUS. Mr. Balan’s presentation focused on the role of religion during the Ukrainian Canadian immigrant experience from the 1890s through 1918 and the challenges that they faced, including the influence of Russophilism in the Greek-Catholic Church, the encounter with the Russian Orthodox mission in Canada, tensions between Greek and Roman Catholics, and the impact of war, revolution and imperial collapse on religious life.

Manor College President Jonathan Peri met with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in March after being appointed in January as chairman of Pennsylvania’s Council of Higher Education. Dr. Peri lent copies of Anne Applebaum’s newest book, “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine” to all members of Pennsylvania’s State Board of Education. During hearings of the State Board, Dr. Peri advocated raising awareness for curriculum purposes of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine. The books, once returned, were to be donated to interested Pennsylvania college students upon request. Dr. Peri recognized the work of Craig Snider, son of the esteemed late Philadelphia Flyers founder and Comcast Spectator chairman Ed Snider, in promoting increased awareness of the Holodomor in education.

In the fall of 2018, the college offered a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology and Practice Management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with concentrations in pre-law, social sciences, history, entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary studies. In addition to its vast associate degree programs, Manor has expanded its four-year degree programs to meet the needs of its students. Hoping to attract more students for the 2018-2019 academic year, Manor announced a tuition freeze, and a 20 percent discount on the new degree programs.

The Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), along with Taras Shevchenko University and the National University of Kiv-Mohyla Academy were ranked among the top three universities in Ukraine, according to the analytical website texty.org.ua. The best indicator, according to the study’s authors, was the External Independent Testing, which determined the aptitude of incoming students, the cost of education and the professionalism of the teachers. UCU moved up 34 places since 2011, with ETI scores for incoming students at 182.5 points – the highest in the country. The second tier of universities included Bohomolets University, Lviv Medical University, Kyiv Polytechnic University and Kharkiv University. Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv were also listed as the three main centers of education in Ukraine. 

UCU has expanded its interdisciplinary programs to include Ethics-Politics-Economics (Faculty of Social Sciences) and Business Analytics (Faculty of Applied Sciences) that have attracted outstanding entering students. Fifty-seven percent of first-year students in the Faculty of Applied Sciences in 2017 were in the top five percent of high school students.

 Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great in Paris was awarded an honorary doctorate by Syracuse University on May 13 during its commencement exercises. Bishop Borys, who is president of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, received his undergraduate degree from the university in 1980. He was recognized by Syracuse University for his “vision of freedom and love of humanity,” and for his courageous leadership in defying tyranny and standing with his students during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014.


Dr. Serge Cipko presents findings from his latest book “Starving Ukraine: The Holodomor and Canada’s Response” in Toronto on April 12.

Dr. Serge Cipko, assistant director of research at CIUS, spoke on April 12 in Toronto about his latest book, “Starving Ukraine: The Holodomor and Canada’s Response.” The event was sponsored by the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium at CIUS, the Shevchenko Scientific Society of Canada, the Buduchnist Credit Union Foundation, the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. Dr. Cipko’s book focused on Canadian newspaper accounts from 1932-1934 and archival sources, examining the state of Canada’s knowledge about the Famine in Ukraine and reactions to it. Events during those years were also shown in parallel to the United States and the local response by both the government and the people. Based on the fact that the Holodomor appeared in the contemporary Canadian press, the Famine was known but had since faded from public memory. Also noteworthy, Dr. Cipko underscored, was the extensive mobilization of Ukrainians in Canada at that time to protest the starvation in Soviet Ukraine, demonstrating the vitality of the community at the time.


Arizona State University Ukrainian language students (from left): Kalania Pickhart, Jordan Tomlinson, instructor Olena Sivachenko, Brandon Urness and Olena Melnyk during the program’s initiation in the summer 2018 as part of the Critical Languages Instititue.

 Arizona State University’s Critical Language Institute added immersive Ukrainian language courses to bolster national security. The courses covered not only spoken Ukrainian, but writing and reading in Ukrainian as well. The inaugural course was taught by Olena Sivachenko. Prof. Mark von Hagen, director of the Melikian Center in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, launched the program after securing funding through federal agencies, partnerships and donors. Students – including high school juniors and seniors – only pay an administrative fee and the cost of study abroad.  

The Prof. Manoly R. Lupul Endowment to Advance Ukrainian Language Education was established on July 23 with the assistance of three Ukrainian Canadian foundations – the Alberta Foundation for Ukrainian Language Education Society, the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation – to support programs in Alberta and beyond through the activities of the Ukrainian Language Education Center at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta. The endowment was established to honor the 90th birthday of Prof. Lupul, who is a leader in multiculturalism and a founder of CIUS in 1976. ULEC is the only university center in North America dedicated to the advancement of Ukrainian-language teaching, learning and research. A major donation of $25,000 was made by the Ukrainian Knowledge Internet Portal Consortium Association – a leader in creating Ukrainian digital resources for the Ukrainian bilingual program in Alberta schools.  

Cambridge Ukrainian Studies

Paul Robert Magocsi and Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, co-authors of “Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence,” whose book was presented by Iryna Zakharchuk at Rivne State University of the Humanities on June 8 in Rivne.

Prof. Iryna Zakharchuk, associate professor in Ukrainian literature at Rivne State University of the Humanities, presented the book “Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence” (2016) by Paul Robert Magocsi and Yohanan Petrovsky-Stern. During Prof. Zakharchuk’s presentation on June 8 in Rivne, she focused on: Why is it that conflicts wars, confrontations and destructions attract more attention from researchers than do periods of relative well-being? Why do analysts and scholars tend to focus on such topics? Why, finally, are these topics more interesting for readers? Prof. Zakharchuk lauded the book’s material and structure in paralleling Ukrainian-Jewish life in the Russian Empire and in Austro-Hungary, and the various aspects of everyday life during the course of 1,000 years, and noted that today Ukrainians and Jews have ways of learning about each other to find the shared experiences. The Ukrainian Jewish Encounter is an example of that shared ongoing dialogue.

Andrew Nynka

Dr. Gennadi Poberezny spoke about the Holodomor at Harvard University on October 22.

Dr. Gennadi Poberezny, a political geographer with expertise on the Holodomor, spoke at Harvard University on October 22. His talk, “Conceptualizing the Holodomor: Ukraine’s Great Famine from Lemkin to Applebaum,” showed that there is still no consensus on the question “Was the Holodomor a genocide?” The divide on the question, he argued, was based on the different conceptual definitions of the Holodomor and genocide. The U.N. Convention on Genocide was also discussed at length, as was the work of Raphael Lemkin in coining the term “genocide,” highlighting the problems associated with international recognition of the Holodomor as genocide. 

Cambridge Ukrainian Studies

Dr. Olenka Pevny became the new director of the Cambridge Ukrainian Studies program in England on October 2.

New Jersey native Dr. Olenka Pevny became director of the Cambridge Ukrainian Studies program in England on October 2, succeeding Dr. Rory Finnin. Dr. Finnin was senior lecturer in Ukrainian Studies and took a sabbatical leave from 2018 to 2020 for a series of research projects. Dr. Pevny, who is lecturer in Early Modern Slavonic Culture and History, has been at the university since 2014, having worked on “The Glory of Byzantium” exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Cambridge Ukrainian Studies program was founded in 2008; it has become one of the world’s leading academic center devoted to the study of Ukraine.

At the international conference “Genocide in 20th Century History: The Power and the Problems of an Interpretive, Ethical-Political and Legal Concept,” held on October 20-21 at the University of Toronto, the Holodomor was featured prominently. The conference was organized by the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium; the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies (University of Massachusetts); the University of Toronto Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy; the Anne Tenenbaum Center for Jewish Studies; and the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa. The event culminated with the Toronto Annual Ukrainian Famine Lecture, delivered by Liudmyla Hrynevych, director of the Holodomor Research and Education Center in Kyiv. The conference was a milestone, according to attendees and scholars, marking the Holodomor’s integration into broader discussions of genocide. Panel discussions focused on the term “genocide” and its conceptual evolution through the colonial and post-colonial experience. The Holodomor was compared and contrasted against other genocides of the 20th century, including the Armenian Genocide, which resulted in a spirited exchange among researchers.