Round table “European Studies in the Times of War: Ukrainian Dimension” (25.05.2022, online)

On May 25, 2022, Ukrainian Association of Professors and Researchers of European Integration (APREI), in partnership with the National Erasmus+ Office in Ukraine held a round table “European Studies in the Times of War: Ukrainian Dimension”. The event was organized in the framework of the implementation of the EU Erasmus+ programme Jean Monnet project: “EU-Eastern Partnership: future alleys of joint initiatives of academic and civil society sectors in Ukraine” (620395-EPP-1-2020-1-UA-EPPJMO-SUPPA-EU-EaP).

Ukrainian European Studies community has always recognized its historical responsibility for securing Ukraine’s pro-European choice. With russian aggression threatening the very core of European values, under unprecedented conditions of a devastating war conflict, our colleagues keep paving the way towards Ukraine’s European future – by teaching, researching, implementing existing projects and launching new initiatives in the field of European Studies. The professional community of professors and researchers of European Studies has always been aware of its historical responsibility for forming a deep and holistic understanding of European values and European integration processes in the young generation of Ukrainians. In the challenging conditions of the war time, our colleagues lay a solid foundation for Ukraine’s European future through teaching the EU and European integration, conducting research, implementing projects, and launching new initiatives.

The round table “European Studies in the Times of War: Ukrainian Dimension” became a platform to comprehend the unique experience of implementing educational and research projects within European Studies during the full-scale armed russian aggression. Particular attention was paid to the changes in teaching formats and content of study courses, pedagogical innovations, and best practices of adaptation to the new conditions.

The event was attended by 47 participants, including project coordinators and team members of current Erasmus + Jean Monnet projects, teachers of European integration courses, researchers of the EU and European integration, civil society representatives and those who are interested in developing the European Studies in Ukraine.

Svitlana Shytikova, the coordinator of the National Erasmus+ Office in Ukraine in her speech while highlighting the importance of implementation of the current Erasmus+Jean Monnet projects under the armed conflict, talked about the devastating situation of many Ukrainian educational institutions. She also indicated the urgency of modernization of the curricula, creation of new study courses, extension of the academic mobility, as well as feasibility of double degree programs. Svitlana drew the participants’ attention at the need to talk about the current situation in the country with international audience, to raise understanding and awareness about the scale of the tragedy among the international partners.

“Higher Education and Erasmus+ before and during war: challenges, needs, resources and opportunities”, Svitlana SHYTIKOVA, National Erasmus+ Office in Ukraine Ukraine during war, Eng. language – September 2022

Iryna Sikorska, the Chairperson of Ukrainian Association of Professors and Researchers of European Integration in her welcoming speech, stressed the importance of this timely professional discussion of the relevance of teaching European Studies in Ukraine, preserving and increasing the academic value of European Studies accumulated for decades. She highlighted the fact, that today when the application for Ukraine’s membership in the EU had been signed, the European Studies experts should form the academic discourse, conduct informational and explanatory work on the Ukraine’s status as the candidate to the EU among students and wider public. Iryna also stressed upon the need to discuss changes in teaching formats and the content of the European Studies, pedagogical innovations, and practices of adaptation to the new conditions.

The ten presenters in their short speeches focused on the content and changes in teaching the European Studies and implementing the projects in the wartime. They discussed whether it would be possible to find a balance between what was planned in the projects and what is urged by the today’s reality.

Lyudmila Gavrilova, Doctor of Sciences in Pedagogy, Professor of Theory and Practice of Primary Education of Donbass State Pedagogical University, coordinator of the Erasmus+Jean Monnet Module: “Ukraine-EU: Intercultural Communication in Education” pointed to the increased interest of students towards European studies during the war, precisely in terms of developing the ability to communicate with other cultures and prevent confusions and conflicts.

Hanna Duginets, Doctor of Sciences in Economics, Professor, Head of the Department of World Economics of Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics, coordinator of the Erasmus+Jean Monnet Module: “Advocacy of European rules of competition” noted the project relevance with peculiarities of its implementation, pointing out the necessity to extend the target group promoting the advocacy culture, and considering the recently updated national legislation framework in the field.

Anatoliy Kruglashov, Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor, deputy Head of Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Director of the Research Institute of European Integration and Regional Studies of Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, shared his experience of teaching European Studies to various target audiences, including schoolchildren. He raised the issue of expanding their projects’ focus further to secondary schools to secure the next generation’s devotion to Ukraine’s European choice. He also stressed upon the importance of teaching European integration processes for civil servants. Prof. Kruglashov emphasized his engagement in the work to inform colleagues from Moldova and Romania about the war in Ukraine.

Petro Tokar, Ph.D., Director of the Jean Monnet Transcarpathian Center for Research on European Development Strategies, Research Fellow at the Institute for European Integration Studies, Uzhhorod National University shared his experience of cooperation with his colleagues from Kazakhstan, Hungary and Romania in order to inform them about full-scale russian aggression in Ukraine.

Serhiy Berenda, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Karazin School of Business, Kharkiv National V.N.Karazin University, coordinator of the Erasmus+Jean Monnet Module: “European Integration of Ukraine: Industry 4.0” spoke about extremely difficult conditions of the project implementation due to the large-scale destruction and damage of his home university. However, the project is planned to be completed according to initial goals.

Marina Keda, Ph.D., Associate Professor of World History and International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University “Chernyhiv Collegium”, Head of the Center for European Studies, coordinator of the Jean Monnet Chair: “Cultural Dimension of Europe” focused on a solid team of teachers and researchers of European integration, that counts already more than a hundred graduates of these educational programs at their university. From her point of view, one of the results of this process is the fact that Chernyhiv region bordering Russia and Belarus did not give up for many days defending the European choice of its citizens. This horrific experience has obviously affected the content and the rhetoric of current projects.

Maria Lizun, Doctor of Sciences in Economics, Professor of International Economics of Western Ukrainian National University, the coordinator of the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Module: “Regional Integration: European Benchmark in the Challenges of Global Fragmentation”, illustrated vital issues of completion of the main phases of the project, stressed the importance of its relevance, brought attention to the critical matters and changes in the content of current project, and challenges that arose during the war.

Olena Melnyk, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Head of the International Projects Department of Sumy National Agrarian University, coordinator of the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Chair: “EU Climate Leadership” shared her experience in implementing the project over the past years and outlined future perspectives of its implementation.

Olena Tupakhina, Doctor of Sciences in Philology, Associate Professor of German Philology, Translation and World Literature, Zaporizhzhia National University, coordinator of the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Module: “Memory Policy: Europe’s Experience for Reunion in Ukrainian Society”. The project was primarily focused on the ideas of peacemaking, hate speech prevention and mitigating historical conflicts within Ukrainian society, and now the focus has changed to treating the war-caused trauma and reflecting upon the roots of Russia’s genocidal politics towards Ukraine.

Yaryna Turchyn, Doctor of Political Science, Professor, Director of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of National Lvyv Polytechnic University, coordinator of the Eramus+ Jean Monnet Module: “EU-Eastern Partnership Initiative: Opportunities for Ukraine” focused on the increased motivation of students and their interest in European integration processes. She pointed out that it would be vital for the universities to introduce teaching of European studies in every educational programs, dissemination of information and forming a better understanding of European integration processes among the students.

During the round table debriefing it was stressed upon that the frontline in education sector lies in the struggle for the European values, for the independent democratic Ukraine towards the EU membership, which means enhancement of the European studies within the implementation of the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet projects and beyond. In times of the ongoing war, when the very future of the Ukrainian nation is at stake, it is a matter of grave importance to bring Ukrainian perspective to multiple international discussion platforms. Hopefully, the round table debates initiated by APREI will be followed by similar successful initiatives.

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