Against the backdrop of academia, in particular, Slavic and Eastern European Studies reckoning with the need to decolonize and decenter Russian narratives in higher education, Razom’s Ukraine on Campus stipend program helped bring five students to the 55th annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Philadelphia, from November 30 – December 3. The selected students came from different backgrounds, academic concentrations, and connections to Ukraine, but each leveraged their attendance at the Convention to bring new energy and ideas to efforts around progressing the study of Ukraine and creating sustainable opportunities for engaging with Ukraine across U.S. university campuses.
In addition to stipends, Ukraine on Campus created spaces where attendees could build community, find overlap in their work, and coordinate ways in which they can collaborate in their studies and academic careers. On top of the extensive ASEEES schedule, the project hosted a number of Ukraine on Campus engagements and promoted specific segments of the ASEEES program to help give stipend recipients, local students, and interested academics the opportunity to connect as they take on decolonizing their fields and championing the study of Ukraine.
Decolonizing the Academic Landscape: Ukraine at ASEEES
The ASEEES Convention provided a platform for 37 academics, researchers, and professors from Ukrainian institutions to present their work. Many other academics from around the United States and the world also attended to discuss their research on Ukraine. With a staggering 220 panels, roundtables, and other events featuring or including Ukraine, attendees were immersed in a rich tapestry of Ukrainian academia, literature, and film. Programming about Ukraine and by Ukrainians saw incredible turnout, with attendees sitting on floors and standing in hallways outside of the conference rooms to hear and engage with Ukrainian voices.
Who They Are: Ukraine on Campus Stipend Recipients
Five students, across all degree levels, were selected as stipend recipients:
- William Ronald Debnam, Columbia University, pursuing a PhD in Ukrainian Studies and instructor of Elementary Ukrainian
- Anastasiia Pereverten, University of Wyoming, pursuing a B.A. in International Studies
- Viktoriia Savchuk, University of Maryland, pursuing a PhD in Communications
- Oleksii Shebanov, Brown University, pursuing an A.B. in Intellectual History & Slavic Studies
- Iryna Tofan, New York University, pursuing an MA in Museum Studies
Razom also supported local students in engaging with the ASEEES 2023 program and attending academics, researchers, and voices on Ukraine. Through our programming, students were able to connect one-on-one with experts and community leaders such as Emily Channell-Justice, Serhii Plokhy, Olena Lennon, Bishop Borys Gudziak, Volodymyr Sheiko, Halyna Hryn, Vitaly Chernetsky, Sophia Wilson, and many other academics from Ukraine and beyond. Viktoriia also presented during 3 panels and stipend recipients were often the first to ask questions and engage in discourse in and around the panel discussions.
Victory Reads: Olena Stiazhkina
Another highlight of the convention was the collaboration between Razom and the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI). Razom, in partnership with HURI, organized a compelling book talk featuring Olena Stiazhkina, attracting a full auditorium and showcasing the appetite for engaging discussions around Ukrainian contemporary literature. Stiazhkina, whose recent book tour in NYC Razom proudly amplified, discussed her two forthcoming books to be published in English in 2024:Ukraine, War, Love and Cecil the Lion Had to Die, which was translated with the support of Razom Translates.
Local Spotlight: University of Pennsylvania
The Ukraine on Campus team, advisors, and stipend recipients had the opportunity to visit the University of Pennsylvania and join the Ukrainian Student Association at Penn for Ukrainian Tea Time on campus. Ukrainian Tea Time, hosted by professor of Ukrainian language, Kseniia Power, was an opportunity for cross-campus engagement between Ukrainian language instructors, student leaders on their respective campuses, and young academics studying Ukraine and interested in engaging with ASEEES to decolonize the field.
Ukraine on Campus: Stipends & Beyond
Razom’s Ukraine on Campus project was pleased to offer travel stipends to students who were interested in attending this year’s ASEEES Convention. Travel grants were available to partially offset the costs of Convention attendance. The project, which features a directory of 60+ Ukrainian student groups across U.S. university campuses, is a developing initiative focused on connecting students interested in championing Ukraine and mobilizing the resources they need to activate their campuses in support of a Ukrainian victory. Its goal is to engage student activism both on campus and beyond through conferences, event tours, and more.
To support initiatives such as Ukraine on Campus as well as all the work that Razom is doing to support a secure, prosperous and democratic Ukraine, please donate HERE.