The Second USPS Seminar is aimed at developing skills for critical thinking and analysis of basic ideas and principles that underlie modern social, political, economic and cultural processes. The Seminar took place in Odesa on June 7 – 11, 2017.

Svitlana Matviienko, Chairwoman of the Board of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives, greeted the participants and wished them inspiration and a fruitful seminar.

Values: what are they, actually? Personal and societal aspects

Values underlie any social, political and economic process. But what do we mean when we talk about values? What is the etymology of the word “value”? What is the nature of human as a value bearer? What are values depending on the perspective – neuropsychological, philosophical and sociological? All these and other aspects of axiology were raised during the talk with Denys Poltavets, Programme Director, Aspen Institute Kyiv.

On Council of Europe and its role in Ukraine

Council of Europe is a key organization for human rights protection of the continent. It includes 47 state members, 28 of which are EU members. All Council of Europe members, including Ukraine, signed under the European Convention for Human Rights – an agreement targeted to protect human rights, democracy and rule of law. But are these principles and standards adhered to in Ukraine at the times of war? How can the Council of Europe guarantee enforcement of these principles? What can the Council of Europe do for Ukraine in the time of conflict in the East and annexation of Crimea? These questions were answered by Mårten Ehnberg, Head of Office, Council of Europe in Ukraine.

Political forecasting

During policy planning and implementation one of the most interesting resources is an image of the future which it proposes. However, often political forecasts in Ukraine can be manipulative and overly subjective which negates their importance in good policy making. Mykhaylo Koltsov, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, talked about methods of political forecasting, spheres of its use, forms of forecasts, principles of short-term and long-term forecasting and ways to implement forecasts.

Justice and politics

Andrii Baumeister, PhD, Associate Professor at Theoretical and Practical Philosophy Department at Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, answered the questions of what the state is, why we need it, how tightly we are connected with it, what we think of justice and what it really is.

Art of improvisation in politics

Every day every one of us is an actor of the improvisation genre. Politics, business, love, childcare etc are all acting where we only have one choice to make: either we are being “played”, or we “play”. Improvisation is creation of an act during its performance. How to use improvisation in politics? How to talk to the audience? These questions were answered by Anatoliy Neyolov, Head of the “Black Square” Theatre.

Freedom of expression and modern constitutionalism

What is freedom of speech in modern Ukraine, at the time of war? We often draw upon the examples of freedom of speech and expression in Western countries, but what are peculiarities of freedom of expression in the context of cultural and constitutional differences in the US, EU and Ukraine? How do human imagination, laws of physical world, functions of intellectual freedom, modern art, science and education relate? Vsevolod Rechytskyi, PhD, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University of Ukraine, talked about this.

Aesthetics, personality, philosophy of understanding of the aesthetic object

Volodymyr Rafeenko, Ukrainian Writer and Poet, talked about who modern writers and artists are, what is the actuality of a literary means of recognizing reality for a citizen, human, individual. It is the phenomenon of an individual that underlies most key modern developmental processes.

Design thinking and business modeling for social change

Svitlana Khutka, Founding CEO: U.World Foundation; Program “Democracy. Development. Education” (Ukrainian Civic IT Hub in SF) Country Director (Ukraine), Board of Directors Member: coderGirls (Stanford, USA); ProjectCSGIRLS (Harvard, USA). Board Member, “Global Ukraine”, talked about the method of design thinking popular in the States. Design thinking as innovate social problem solution allows for a more effective projection of possible solutions from a point of view of end consumer.

Human body and politics

How do human body and politics relate? Does the body influence politics? Where is the line between “seeming to be” and “being”? What is the body of a politician like? Are flirt, erotica and sex levers of political influence and power? Does this help or vice versa? All this was discussed during the seminar with Svitlana Matviienko, Chairwoman of the Board of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives.

Society, politicians and political parties of the future

What is the main activity of the politician based upon? According to Sergiy Gaiday, Director of Strategical Planning of Social Engineering Agency “”, on ability to build a political organization and its effective communication with the society. Changes and new technology in the last 30 years, first of all, influenced spheres of information and social communication. However, Ukrainian politicians, as always before, still build copies of the Communist Party. What should modern parties be like? Do we need new ideas and ideologies? How to build a dialogue with the society?

Conflicts in Ukraine: causes, dynamics and transformation

Violent conflicts have their own dynamics and logic. They unfold in time and space accumulating vast human and material resources. They ruin social institutions and destroy social capital. At the same time, conflicts create new opportunities, give a push for transformations, make people change. In the last 20 years just a small number of violent conflicts were resolved. Majority of these conflicts are still in active phase or under the threat of escalation. Can humanity find ways to transform violent conflicts? Are we destined to repeat our history over and over again? Igor Semyvolos, Executive Director, Centre of Middle East Studies, talked about these issues.

Media gallery of the Second USPS Seminar here

Photographer Oksana Sushko