Cambridge becomes a permanent home for Ukrainian Studies
A major gift from prominent Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash to the University of Cambridge has permanently endowed Western Europe’s premier programme in the study of the culture and language of Ukraine.
Cambridge Ukrainian Studies, an initiative of the Department of Slavonic Studies, was launched at Cambridge with the support of Mr Firtash in 2008.
It has worked to deepen public understanding of Ukraine and to advance fresh, innovative approaches to research on the country, which is a critical crossroads between 'East' and 'West' with a rich historical, linguistic, and cultural inheritance.
The initiative has been met with strong student and public interest in Great Britain and beyond.
Mr Firtash's generous benefaction now makes possible the permanent establishment of two key academic posts central to the Cambridge Ukrainian Studies initiative: a Lecturer in Ukrainian Studies and a Lector in Ukrainian Language.
It also provides the resources for a pioneering undergraduate programme and for public events throughout the academic year.
'This gift ensures that Cambridge will be a vibrant home for the study of Ukraine for many generations to come,' said Professor Simon Franklin, Head of the School of Arts and Humanities. 'Mr Firtash has opened up new possibilities for teaching and research at the University of Cambridge.'
In only two years, Cambridge Ukrainian Studies has become one of the liveliest centres of activity in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages.
Its courses offer undergraduates the opportunity to explore both canonical and formerly suppressed works of literature and film in the Ukrainian original, from the impressionistic prose of Mykola Khvyl'ovyi to the cinematic masterpieces of Oleskandr Dovzhenko.
Its postgraduate workshops, open to students through Great Britain by application, feature the foremost experts in the fields of Eastern European history and society.
A special focus of Cambridge Ukrainian Studies has been public education. It organises a popular annual Festival of Ukrainian Film as well as public lectures and seminars about contemporary Ukraine, which have been attended by representatives of Parliament, the Ukrainian Embassy and the BBC.
The initiative regularly publishes a podcast series on its website linked above right, and mounts exhibitions that seek to educate the public about the artistic and historical legacy of Ukraine.
'Verse in Vision,' an exhibition of prints by Taras Shevchenko, introduced Cambridge audiences to the art of the renowned poet and painter.
'The 1932-33 Diaries of Gareth Jones,' held at the Wren Library, Trinity College, put stirring historical documents from a heroic journalist on display for the first time and garnered extensive media coverage around the world.
These events were organised by Dr Rory Finnin, Lecturer in Ukrainian Studies.
'Ukraine is a fascinating country that has been understudied for far too long,' noted Finnin. 'We are committed to seeing Ukrainian Studies grow as an exciting and diverse academic field in Europe and to contributing to this growth to the greatest extent possible.'
The picture was taken at the 2010 Stasiuk Workshop in Contemporary Ukrainian Studies, King's College, Cambridge
Added: 13 October 2010