VCU announces three-year partnership with Ukrainian college
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Virginia Commonwealth University and the Kyiv School of Economics in Ukraine have signed a memorandum of understanding that confirms the intention of the institutions to develop collaborative activities in different academic or research areas.
“Partnerships with universities around the world have always represented a critical part of VCU’s internationalization strategy,” said Jill Blondin, Ph.D., executive director of the Global Education Office. “Establishing this partnership with KSE has special meaning, especially given the current challenges facing Ukraine.”
Judy Twigg, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Humanities and Sciences who initiated VCU’s contact with KSE, said the partnership demonstrates VCU’s solidarity with Ukraine.
“We look forward to transforming this partnership into something very real. For now, we can identify ways to interact with colleagues at KSE and support displaced Ukrainian students and scholars while Ukraine is facing Russian aggression,” Twigg said. “After the war ends, we can explore opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to go to Ukraine and for Ukrainian partners to come here, as we explore education abroad, joint research, and other initiatives.”
In the future, the partnership could include anything from team-taught courses and guest lectures to collaborative research among faculty and student exchanges, Twigg said.
“The faculty at KSE are engaged in many … avenues of scholarly inquiry that I think would generate interest among scholars here at VCU and vice versa,” she said. KSE is consistently ranked as one of the top institutions of higher education in Central and Eastern Europe, offering degree programs in public policy and governance, economics, and management.
Twigg, who is also a senior associate with the Global Health Policy Center and the Europe, Russia & Eurasia Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies,
said she has always been impressed by the caliber and sophistication of academic partners in Kyiv. Her last trip there was in 2019.
“Ukraine, and especially Kyiv, has such dynamic, creative, innovative young thinkers and institutions,” Twigg said. “It’s exciting to take steps toward expanding VCU’s ties there and launching a university partnership that can benefit people across both our societies, especially as a free, democratic Ukraine will be rebuilding after the war.”
Twigg said she is proud of how quickly VCU worked to draft and sign the memorandum. The university joins several others in the U.S. that have signed similar agreements with KSE, including Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“Hats off to the Global Education Office that handles international university partnerships for VCU, to Jason Arnold, the chair of the Department of Political Science, and to the Dean's office in the College and the Provost’s office, for recognizing the importance of getting this memorandum of understanding signed as quickly as possible, so that we can show our support to our Ukrainian partners … with Ukraine literally under attack and fighting for its survival.”
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