Manchester University And 'Ukraine Rises'

Ukrainian academic spearheads contemporary study of Ukraine in the UK
Peter Devine
August 23, 2023

Manchester University has appointed the first-ever Professor of Comparative and Ukrainian Politics in the UK.

The appointment of Professor Olga Onuch is said to underline the leading role of the University when it comes to the study of contemporary Ukraine for students and academics in Britain.

It is also hoped that it will influence the longer term prospects towards the integration of Ukraine into the European Union among policy makers across the globe.

Olga is an academic whose expertise on Ukrainian politics and society has led her to become one of the leading Ukraine experts both in the UK and internationally.

Prof Olga Onuch
Prof Olga Onuch

Since the 2004 Orange Revolution, Olga, has focused her research on political engagement in the country, and since 2014 she was a member of an advisory group to the Ukrainian government and has worked with diverse policy makers from Ukraine, the UK, USA, EU and Canada.

However, since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Olga has dedicated herself to recording and understanding the war, as well as releasing a highly-regarded book, The Zelensky Effect, about the role of civic national identity in Ukraine and how it influenced President Zelensky and directed his leadership.

In her new role, Professor Onuch will develop a teaching curricula within the politics department, mentoring early career researchers and developing policy focused research agendas. The professorship will raise the profile of Ukrainian scholarship and studies at the University and in the UK more widely, making Manchester a leader in the field.

She will launch the ‘Ukraine Rises’ course in next month, which will focus on contemporary Ukrainian Politics in comparative perspective, and will continue to teach courses on mass protest and democratisation in Eastern Europe and Latin America in which Ukraine will be a central reference case. These courses will also help to develop a pipeline for those interested in future doctoral study focused on Ukrainian politics in comparative perspective.

The professorship will also enable her to undertake more public engagement and outreach activities with the inception of a keynote public lecture on Ukraine, as well as helping her to fundraise for further public facing events which engage the local community in Manchester and support Ukrainian refugees. She will also continue to expand on existing collaborations with organisations including the British Council in Ukraine, focusing on youth engagement.

Ultimately, a main goal of the professorship is to develop a large centre focused on the comparative study of Ukrainian politics, elections, political participation and democratic resilience, which aims to support UK, EU, North American and Ukrainian policymakers working on political reforms relating to EU accession, reconstruction, and civic duty, engagement in Ukraine and beyond.

The Zelensky Effect (Image: Hurst Publishers)
The Zelensky Effect (Image: Hurst Publishers)

The university was also one of the first Higher Education Institutions in the UK to pledge large amounts of funding to supporting Ukrainian students when it committed £5million to establish a scholarship for students and scholars fleeing war.

It has also supported the academic-led Ukraine Hub UK, the setting up of a Ukraine focused expert task force, and the was first UK institution to host a Ukrainian Students Conference last year involving people from over 20 universities.

Prof Onuch has explained what her new role will be: “I am very proud of the University of Manchester’s leadership in supporting Ukrainian students and scholars.  

“My wish is that having this title hosted here will motivate more Ukrainian students to study at The University of Manchester, and that more students who want to learn about Ukraine will come to the university."

She adds: "I hope that the first professorship to name Ukrainian Politics explicitly in the English speaking world brings my 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.”

Header image: Manchester University