University appoints UK’s first professor of Ukrainian politics – BBC

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Prof Onuch said she hoped the move was “not just a first, but rather that it starts a trend”

A university has appointed what it said is the first professor of Ukrainian politics in the English-speaking world.

Prof Olga Onuch will launch the Ukraine Rises course at the University of Manchester (UoM) in September.

She said she hoped her new title would bring her family and friends in Ukraine “a bit of pride”.

Volodymyr Sheiko, director general of the Ukrainian Institute in Kyiv, said it had never been “more important for Ukraine to be genuinely understood”.

A UoM representative said Prof Onuch’s expertise had led her to become one of the leading experts on Ukraine, both in the UK and internationally.

They said that since 2014, she had been a member of an advisory group to the Ukrainian government and had worked with policymakers from Ukraine, the UK, the US, the EU and Canada.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, she published The Zelensky Effect, a book about the role of civic national identity in Ukraine and how it influenced the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

The university said as well as launching the new course, which will focus on contemporary Ukrainian politics, she would also continue to teach courses on mass protest and democratisation in eastern Europe and Latin America.

‘Richly deserved’

Prof Onuch said she hoped “the first professorship to name Ukrainian Politics explicitly in the English speaking world” would bring her “family and friends in Ukraine a bit of pride”.

“Above all, I hope that this move is not just a first, but rather that it starts a trend,” she said.

Mr Sheiko, whose organisation works to shape Ukraine’s international image through cultural diplomacy, said Prof Onuch’s appointment was a “crucial milestone”.

“Much of the knowledge about Ukraine, its history, politics, and culture emerges from leading academic institutions to inform public policies, curricula, and public opinion,” he said.

He added that he was “confident that Olga’s profound experience and expertise will set a high standard for others to follow”.

Anna Dezyk, the deputy chairwoman of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, said Prof Onuch’s “enthusiasm and extensive expertise” provided a “fantastic platform for the study of Ukrainian politics to finally move out of the shadows and take its rightful place in academia”.

Leigh Gibson, the Ukraine director for the British Council, added that her appointment “could not be more appropriate and richly deserved”.

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