Ukrainian Scholars Visit Northwestern, Virtually, Amid Ongoing War
In response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, Northwestern Buffett offered Virtual Visitorship grants to 29 displaced Ukrainian scholars during the Spring 2022 quarter. These grants offered the Northwestern community opportunities to interact with and learn from Ukrainian scholars, while supporting scholars from Ukraine in continuing their work from the conflict zone. Scholars from a wide range of disciplines–including the social sciences, medicine, business, literature, law and musical performance–were selected to receive funding, with priority given to scholars who were internally displaced or living as refugees.
Grant recipients were matched with Northwestern faculty members, who served as hosts for their virtual visits, which involved guest lectures, presentations of research, policy work, or civic activities, and meetings with students.
The virtual format of the visitorship grant ensured that Ukrainian scholars could continue navigating their scholarly pursuits amid a war zone with limited support. The war has “had an extremely negative impact on the work of my university and, in particular, the scientific activity of researchers…despite the complexity of the situation, I stayed with my family and helped defend the city,” said grant recipient and Dean of the Faculty of Law, Public Administration and National Security at Polissia National University, Vitalii Dankevych.
“Many scholars have stayed in Ukraine, and programs like this allow them to continue their research activities and keep in touch with their foreign colleagues,” added Nataliia Zalietok, grant recipient and Head of the Department of Archival Studies at the Ukrainian Research Institute of Archival Affairs and Records Keeping. “The virtual format was critical because there was no possibility that I could leave my home city.”
The initiative also offered Ukrainian scholars an opportunity to share their insights into Ukraine’s complex political history. “Ukraine’s historical trajectory is extremely complicated and entangled, and it’s hard even for professional social scientists to decipher the intricacies of Ukrainian history, society and politics,” said grant recipient and Professor of Sociology at Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute Pavlo Fedorchenko-Kutuyev. “I think a major benefit of these virtual visits is that they raise awareness among the Northwestern community.”
The Virtual Visitorship grants ultimately deepened Ukrainian scholars’ ties with Northwestern faculty, many of whom went above and beyond to express their solidarity and offer professional and emotional support to their Ukrainian colleagues. “This was an amazing opportunity to experience academic life ‘on campus’ and meet great researchers. One day I hope to meet these wonderful colleagues and new friends in person,” said independent author and grant recipient Oleksandr Mykhed. “Thanks to this virtual visit and other virtual practices, I haven’t felt as removed from the rest of the world,” shared another recipient.