June 27, 2006
Political scientist assisting Ukrainian academy
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A political scientist at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is working to improve educational opportunities for students in Ukraine.
Stephen C. Shulman, associate professor of political science at SIUC, is coordinating with officials at the National University of Kiev-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine to establish a political science curriculum there. To that end, he visited Ukraine several times during fall 2005 and this spring.
"It's exciting for me to help them develop this discipline, which is in its infancy in the region," Shulman said. "The study of political science was disrupted by communism and there wasn't an open and honest analysis of political processes. For the most part, political science didn't exist under the former Soviet Union."
Shulman is advising administrators at the Ukraine university on how to improve, modernize and westernize their political science department. The SIUC professor drew up an undergraduate curriculum consisting of mandatory courses and two specializations – international relations and political institutions. Students attending the Kiev-Mohyla Academy will be able to earn a political science specialization degree in four years.
The Open Society Institute of the George Soros Foundation financed Shulman's trips to Ukraine through a special grant. The foundation named Shulman a non-residential international scholar. The Open Society Institute promotes democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal and social reform. In addition to pursuing other ventures, the group dedicates funds for the development of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The foundation renewed Shulman's grant for the 2006-2007 academic year. He is now helping to reform the graduate curriculum in political science at the Kiev-Mohyla Academy.
This type of project is nothing new for Shulman. In the early 1990's, he taught political science and conducted field research at another university in Ukraine.
"It was my first effort to bring in western political science into the country," he said.
It's also a region that holds a special place in Shulman's heart.
"I wrote my dissertation on Ukraine and most of my research has been on Ukraine," Shulman said. "It's particularly exciting for me to have concrete influence on a country that I've come to love and know very well."
Shulman teaches international relations, comparative politics and ethnic politics at SIUC. His research interests focus on the sources and consequences of nationalism and nationhood. He has an area specialization in the former Soviet Union, particularly Ukraine.
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