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Wright State students to learn about the effects of Russia's invasion from Ukrainian students

a blue and yellow flag is scene with a city in the background
Evgeniy Maloletka
An Ukrainian national flag flag waves over the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. The situation in Kharkiv, just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from some of the tens of thousands of Russian troops massed at the border of Ukraine, feels particularly perilous.

Wright State University in Dayton is partnering with a Ukrainian university on a series of online lectures about the Russian invasion. Associate Professor of History Sean Pollock says 10 Wright State students and 10 from V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University will meet online to discuss the impact of the conflict on Ukrainian society.

"I wouldn't recommend they travel to Ukraine to experience the war in such a direct way," Pollock says. "But I think experiencing it indirectly from people who are experiencing it will be a real value. I think it will help them learn more about Ukraine, learn more about the world outside our borders."

Pollock says overseas studies are expensive and out of reach for many students. He says the lectures will cover Russia's historic claim to Ukraine, the struggle of refugees, and Ukraine's information policy.

"As an historian, I'm very keen to have multiple perspectives on every question that we address. In an ideal world, we would bring Russian faculty and students into this conversation."

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Pollock says that's not possible right now, because his connections in Russia have been cut, and he doesn't feel confident in their safety should he contact them. "To ask them to speak out openly about the war is very dangerous business, because basically all speech pertaining to what used to be called the special military operation, but even now in Russia is called the war, has been criminalized."

Pollock says he and colleagues were talking with members of the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership. "We were thinking, 'What happens after the war is over and once there is a peace settlement, what can we do to facilitate the rebuilding of Ukraine?' And that’s when I began thinking about creating a traditional student-exchange program," he says. "And then the thought occurred to me, why wait until then? With all of that expense, why not try to do something now?"

Pollock says students will examine what the Russian invasion is doing to Ukrainian culture through five virtual lectures starting later this month. He says during the first session, students will be matched up and able to talk one-on-one to get to know each other.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.