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With these courses, the University wants to meet the urgent need for knowledge of Ukrainian that has arisen as a result of the war in the country. ‘The Ukrainian refugee flows in Europe and the rebuilding of the country require humanitarian help, reporting and diplomatic cooperation’, according to Professor of Slavic Literature and Culture Ellen Rutten. ‘To achieve all that, thorough knowledge of the language and culture of Ukraine will be indispensable in the coming years.’

Students from all disciplines

Two language courses will start in the first semester of 2023: Ukrainian 1 and Ukrainian 2. The courses will be given at Bachelor’s level and are intended for students from all degree programmes. In addition, it is the intention that they will be accessible to non-examination students from outside the University. The first language course will start at zero and is therefore suitable for students without prior knowledge of Ukrainian or other Slavic languages.

The courses will be given by linguist Oksana Kononchuk, who fled from Kyiv to Amsterdam in 2022 and is now guest researcher at the UvA. The Ukrainian national is now working as guest researcher in the Russian and Slavic Studies department via the mentoring programme of the University of New Europe, which Rutten co-founded. ‘Oksana brings valuable experience in academic Ukrainian language teaching’, according to Rutten. ‘She is an enthusiastic researcher and teacher, and I am proud that she is the face of these new optional courses.’

Less Russia-focused

Learning the Ukrainian language is a very effective way to help Ukrainians and to counter Russian propaganda, says Kononchuk. ‘Russia’s war is, first of all, against the Ukrainian language, culture and identity. So learning Ukrainian, and making it more known and popular in the world, helps Ukrainians preserve their language and culture.’

Ukrainian belongs to the East Slavic languages, along with Russian and Belarusian. It is the native language of about 40 million people. Offering the Ukrainian courses ties in with the ambition of the study programmes East European Studies and Russian and Slavic Studies to make these curricula less Russia-focused and more transnationally inclusive. The courses will be made partly possible by a subsidy from EPICUR, a programme for European educational cooperation.

Prof. dr. E. (Ellen) Rutten

Faculty of Humanities

Capaciteitsgroep Slavische talen en culturen