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Manchester appoints professor of Ukrainian politics

Olga Onuch aims to increase scholarly interest in political landscape of war-torn nation

The UK’s first professor with ‘Ukrainian politics’ in the title says she hopes her appointment will lead more universities to create similar positions.

Olga Onuch, who was unveiled as professor of comparative and Ukrainian politics at the University of Manchester on 22 August, also said she hoped her appointment would encourage more students into the study of Ukrainian political issues.

“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,” Onuch, who is from Ukraine, said. 

“I also 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.”

Onuch’s focus

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Onuch’s work has focused on recording and understanding the war. She also penned a book on the topic, The Zelensky Effect.

In her new role, Onuch will develop the curriculum, mentor early career researchers and work on policy-focused research agendas. It is hoped that the professorship will raise the profile of Ukrainian scholarship and studies in the UK.

A new course, entitled ‘Ukraine rises’, will launch this September, which will focus on contemporary Ukrainian politics from a comparative perspective.

‘Major milestone’

“The appointment of the first professor of comparative and Ukrainian politics is long overdue in the English-speaking world and is a major milestone, not only for the Ukrainian community in the UK but also globally,” said Anna Dezyk, deputy chair of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

Leigh Gibson, Ukraine director for the British Council, added: “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Olga and her department to understand more about the role young people have played in the development of Ukraine as a democratic nation, and the critical contribution they will make to recovery and rebuilding in the future.”