My Commitments to Education as a Public Good and a Human Right
Everyday I serve a diverse globally-engaged public in my role as Director of Fulbright Ukraine and IIE: Institute of International Institute, Kyiv. For a recent article about the history of IIE since 1919 in light of current events in Ukraine and elsewhere around the globe, see here. This year the escalation of atrocities of Russia's ongoing war on Ukraine (which started in 2014) has impacted many universities and displaced over 10 million people throughout the country and abroad.
20+ Fulbright Commissions throughout the E.U. have signed a Solidarity Statement with IIE-Fulbright Ukraine.
At IIE and Fulbright we have raised funds to support students, scholars, and artists impacted by the war: over 1 million for students already in the U.S. and many SRF scholarships for people displaced from Ukraine who are now continuing their studies from other countries. We also have a large project that we started in 2018 with the U.S. Embassy that supports 12 universities first displaced from the occupied territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, and Crimea. We are now expanding our support to a wider network of 24 impacted universities, with several university partners in the U.S. and our partners at the American-Fulbright Polish Commission also contributing to our overall project aims.
In September 2022 our Kyiv IIE office launches a new study abroad program for third year undergraduates to spend one year at U.S. universities. This program is also a leadership building program and aims for young Ukrainians to connect with mentors and learn skills that they can bring to Ukraine to rebuild the country. The Global Democracy Ambassador Scholarship is co-led by our IIE Kyiv office, and three co-Chairs who are world reknown humanitarian leaders with extensive backgrounds in philanthropy and democracy in Eastern Europe and E.U.-U.S.-Ukraine relations.
I am currently based in Warszawa and Kyiv. I continue to work across and within Ukraine-Polish contexts.
I am actively engaged in foundations and organizations both in and outside of academia where I can most effectively contribute my expertise, and connect and strengthen ties to assist in the development of educational institutions, digital infrastructure, quality of information, public diplomacy, and democracy. I am on the Advisory Board of the EWL Fundacja (East West Link Foundation), which is the largest and one of the oldest public foundations serving Ukrainian displaced populations, addressing the more general E.U. and global concern for human rights and human trafficking by providing skills, services, and institutional capacity to ensure a safe and equitable labor market for people of all backgrounds, genders, and nationalities. EWL Fundacja is at present one of the major organizations that is working directly to respond materially, assist in integration longer-term, and advise government and others on the 4 million+ Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
Bridging expertise across disciplines within the academy, and with practitioners from outside institutions, remains ever more critical for developing dialogue in preparing younger generations to discuss today's global challenges to the understanding of culture, society, and history. As a researcher and educator interested in visual media, political theory, and gender studies, I often find myself working across professional contexts. My work has brought me into conversation with scholars, researchers, students, artists, and community activists from the U.S. and East Central Europe, Ukraine, and Russia whose diverse interests often intersect in socially and politically meaningful ways. I regularly participate in projects and lectures for more general public audiences, in addition to specialized academic communities. I have organized and participated in events at institutions including N.Y.U., Harvard, U-Toronto, U-Michigan, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and the Lviv Center for Urban History, among others. For example, a conference I organized at University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs at the beginning of the war in Ukraine in 2016: Critical Contexts of the Ukraine Conflict: Uncommon Perspectives.
I have always aimed to pursue and education that is rooted in public service; this has given me an appreciation and interest for the diverse cultures I communicate across daily in my professional activities. For example, earlier, in 2010, I was selected by the U.S. Department of State for a competitive position to serve as a Delegate to the Transatlantic Young Leaders Conference in Prague, Czech Republic Nov. 6-12. I served on the delegation dedicated to cultural and religious tolerance and diversity, along with other U.S. representatives from the academic, NGO, and government sectors. We continued to pursue dialogue in these areas alongside our peers from throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
Mentorship is a cornerstone to sustaining education and creative communities. I regularly advise professional colleagues in different sectors, as well as graduates and undergraduates interested in pursuing international opportunities. I have designed and delivered workshops on digital media, and research methodologies, and also for one year served as a Training Specialist and consultant in U.S. Department of Homeland Security cyber-infrastructure.
I also serve as an elected representative in different capacities inside and outside of academia and in public service. I am an elected Member of the Board of the U.S. Association of Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS). I am an Advisory Board of H-Net: Ukraine at the digital U.S.-based academic network H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. I am also a member of the American Association of Ukrainian Studies, ASEES, HASTAC for digital humanities, and others.
I've served on the University of Michigan CREES Executive Council; and at the Rackham Graduate School. I regularly serve as a peer-reviewer for academic journals in area studies, gender studies, visual culture, and other fields. I am co-founding editor of the Forum on Race & Postcolonialism at Krytyka: Journal for Ukrainian Politics and Society, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. I am also an Associate Member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society (NTSh-A) in New York, NY.
Along with the above, I am also an active member of:
EWL Fundacja Poland
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)
Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS)
Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC)
Atlantika Collective of visual culture educators and curators