XII Annual Conference of the Ukrainian School of Political Studies

On December 1-2, the Art Arsenal hosted the XII Annual Conference of the Ukrainian School of Political Studies.

The conference of the Ukrainian School of Political Studies is quite an event for the USPS community. It is the 12th time that School alumni of different years, guests, partners, and friends have gathered together to congratulate this year’s alumni, involve in professional discussions with renowned experts from around the world, share their ideas concerning topical current issues, and, of course, chat with old friends.

At the opening session, welcoming remarks were made by Svitlana MATVIIENKO, Chairwoman of the Board of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives; Arturas ZUOKAS, City Mayor of Vilnius (2000-2007, 2011-2015), Member of the Supervisory Board of the USPS; Hugues MINGARELLI, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, and Morten ENBERG, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine. The event was moderated by Oleksandr BOHUTSKYI, CEO of ICTV TV Channel, member of the Board of the EastOne Investment and Consulting Group, USPS alumnus.

Svitlana MATVIIENKO, welcoming the USPS community, stressed that only responsible citizens with critical thinking could make changes valid.

Yevhen BYSTRYTSKYI, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation, addressed words of welcome to the alumni and guests of the School. Mr. Bystrytskyi emphasized that a rational approach was not enough to enable changes, you need a will and a mood. That is why he wished graduates to have a strong will to change, a will for a new Ukraine.

At the conference, it was announced that Mr. Bystrytskyi had become a member of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian School of Political Studies.

Another speaker addressing the USPS community was Andrius KUBILIUS, Member of the Lithuanian Seimas, Chairman of a temporary pro-Ukrainian group, co-initiator of the Marshall Plan for Ukraine, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania (1999-2000; 2008-2012). Mr. Kubilius drew attention to the decisive role of personal energy in the process of achieving desired changes. It is energy – the ability to generate energy for others, as well as personal energy and passion – that can ensure success. Mr. Kubilius emphasized that Ukrainians need to have confidence in their own future, need to be longing for success.

Global civics

Judging by some important indicators, our generation is the most fortunate in the history of mankind. However, we also have to deal with some of the most difficult issues humanity has ever faced: how to cope with our growing interdependence? Can civics, as understood by many different cultures, help us in our attempts to breed a centripetal civic culture, pushing us all together and mixing our lives? – the USPS community discussed these issues with Hakan ALTINAI, President of the Global Civics Academy, Director of the European School of Politics (Turkey).

The second day of the conference started with a presentation by Yuliya MOSTOVA, Editor-in-Chief of the Mirror Weekly (Dzerkalo Tyzhnya), member of the Supervisory Board of the USPS. Ms. Mostova came up with a critical analysis of Ukrainian society, the ruling elite and socio-political processes and trends currently taking place in Ukraine, with a focus on the threats facing our state.

Reforms or destruction: what’s first? What should be destroyed to construct a New Ukraine?

The primary question of any public policy is whether this policy is needed at all? In post-Soviet countries, government intervention tends to be harmful. During the latest three years, Ukraine has made numerous attempts to reform various fields, but only some of them manifest signs of future success. The government’s inability to develop and implement quality policies is often put down to a lack of political will. However, even if there were political will, there is no capacity to implement the necessary reforms. The state machinery mainly engages in “manual control”, that is operational issues. In this situation, weak institutions are obstacles rather than incentives for advancement. What institutions have to be destroyed or built for successful reforms? How to introduce true politics into our political games?

The discussion was attended by:

  • Bohdan KRAVCHENKO, Ph.D., Director General of the University of Central Asia;
  • Ivanna KLYMPUSH-TSINTSADZE, Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine;
  • Oleksandr DANYLIUK, Minister of Finance of Ukraine.

Moderated by Olena MAKEIEVA, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Audit Company Aksonova & Associates, Geneva Group International, USPS alumnus.

Framework of the New Ukraine

We can easily identify the main obstacles on the path to the “New Ukraine”. But most of us find it hard to imagine what this “New Ukraine” should be like. Undoubtedly, advanced independent institutions, including anti-corruption bodies, free legal aid, CEC, courts, and media that set the frame for the political discourse in the country, prevent the spread of corruption and degradation. How to make these institutions truly independent in Ukraine? How to shift public attention from populism to important aspects of the framework of the New Ukraine?

The discussion was attended by:

  • Serhiy LESHCHENKO, MP of Ukraine;
  • Olga AYVAZOVSKA, Chairwoman of the Board, Coordinator of Electoral and Political Programs of the Civil Network OPORA, a representative of Ukraine in the political subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas, USPS alumnus;
  • Andriy STELMASHCHUK, President of the Ukrainian Bar Association, Managing Partner of Vasil Kisil & Partners, USPS alumnus;
  • Andriy VYSHNEVSKY, Program Leader of the Tomorrow’s Lawyer, Director of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision (2012-2017), USPS alumnus.

Moderated by Oleksandr KHORUZHENKO, Director of the Sumy Department of the Center for Local Self-Government Development, USPS alumnus.

Destruction of reality

Liberal democracy requires a “pure” public sphere for democratic debate. But what are the conditions for a pure public sphere? John Stuart Mill believed that in a pure public sphere any views, however contradictory, should receive full public attention. Thus, Mill would be happy with the Russian TV channel Russia Today, whose motto is “Question more”. Based on the lessons of modern information wars, we can argue that there are grounds for revising Mill’s arguments and their conclusions. How does propaganda work? How can we win the information warfare? – School alumni and guests discussed these and other issues with Jason STANLEY, Ph.D., Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University.

Moderated by Olga MALCHEVSKA, BBC Ukraine Desk Editor, USPS alumnus.

Post-Soviet identity: an imperialist-vs.-nationalist axis. What is the moral basis of our agency?

Social ambivalence is a hallmark of any transitional period – a period of collision between different political cultures. This ambivalence is similar in many post-Soviet countries – our hybrid identities corrupt every aspect of our lives. We strive to gain a foothold in the new world, but it is extremely difficult to find a basis for our agency. Nation, language, myths seem to be transitional pillars of our new identity in the context of escape from our imperial and nationalist personae. How to demythologize contemporary Ukrainian discourse? Has Ukraine’s identity changed after the Revolution of Dignity compared to other post-Soviet states? Is Ukraine taking the lead in escaping from its post-Soviet identity?

The discussion was attended by:

  • Myroslav MARYNOVYCH, Vice Rector for the Mission of the Ukrainian Catholic University;
  • Andrei SANNIKOV, Belarussian activist and politician;
  • Mykola RYABCHUK, Ph.D., President of the Ukrainian Center of International PEN-Club.

Moderated by Andriy BAUMEYSTER, Ph.D., Associate Professor of the Department of Theoretical and Practical Philosophy of the Faculty of Philosophy, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

On development, demography and climate change: the end of the world as we know it?

Modern economic growth was mainly based on the combustion of fossil fuels. Countries couldn’t avoid poverty if they had no access to oil, coal and natural gas. The atmospheric CO2 is increasing every year, and 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded. In addition, the population of the Earth is growing faster than ever, and due to the development of technologies, the humanity faces new challenges of unemployment. However, the humanity responds to these events with a mixture of denial, avoidance, and accusation. There is considerable uncertainty about what will happen to the world as we know it. How will humanity respond? Are we ready for what we have created? – USPS community spoke about the fate of the world with Timothy DYSON, Ph.D., Professor of Population Studies at the London School of Economics.

Moderator: Olena MASLYUKIVSKA-SAMBERG, Ph.D., Program Analyst in Environment at UNDP Ukraine, USPS alumnus.

The Conference included the presentation of social and volunteer projects of USPS alumni:

– NewFashionZone Community (Maria TEREKHOVA);
– International Music Festival FAINE MISTO; Educational and Analytical Center for Community Development (Maksym CHERKASHYN);
– #SOSFuture (Kateryna SMAGLIY);
– Batteries, Give up! (Lyudmila KOLOSOVSKA);
– It’sInterestingHere! (TutTsikavo!) (Oleksandr SHATKOVSKYI);
– Ukrainian Institute for the Future (Anatoliy AMELIN);
– Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital (FVMH) (Gennadiy DRUZENKO);
– Competition ‘The Best Public Initiative of Ukraine’ (Pavlo PUSHCHENKO);
– Initiative E+: I See Hope, Children’s Camps (Dmytro STRYHUN).

The conference ended with the presentation of diplomas to the alumni of the XII Ukrainian School of Political Studies. Igor KOHUT and Svitlana MATVIIENKO wished the alumni inspiration and motivation for new achievements.

Photo credit: Oleksandr Kovalenko, Arsen Fedosenko, and Oksana Sushko

This year the Conference was made possible thanks to: