Successful ASEEES-MAG Summer Convention Held in Lviv, Ukraine

By Lynda Park, ASEEES, and Olga Bukhina, MAG

This article was originally published in the August 2016 edition of NewsNet

On June 26-28, ASEEES held a joint summer convention with the International Association for the Humanities (MAG) at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine. This was the second conference in the region for ASEEES - the first one being held at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, organized with the Central Eurasian Studies Society, in May 2014. 

The initial impetus for ASEEES’ decision to organize summer conventions in the region was to exhibit the work of the association to the scholarly communities in the region and to bring together those scholars who do not or cannot attend the annual conventions in the US with the ASEEES members (particularly from North America) to build new networks and strengthen existing ones. Youtube VideoIn that sense, the Lviv convention was a resounding success. ASEEES’ partnership with MAG, with its membership in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, was most fortuitous. MAG was able to publicize the convention’s call for proposals widely throughout the region and attract scholars whom ASEEES might not have been able to reach. The convention drew 516 participants from 35 countries, including 154 from Ukraine, 52 from Russia, 15 from Belarus and 104 from the US. The event offered 148 sessions on diverse interdisciplinary topics. You can view the final convention program on the ASEEES website.

The Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) was a fantastic host with a well-organized staff (and student volunteers!) who went well beyond expectations to make the event a memorable one. We especially thank Oleh Turiy, UCU’s Vice-Rector for Program Development, and Dmytro Sherengovsky, its Director of International Academic Relations, for their tireless efforts. We hope to organize another event in beautiful Lviv, hopefully during the jazz festival again!

Much more than a great academic conference, the Lviv Convention was a milestone event for ASEEES, MAG and UCU. In “Tocqueville in Ukraine: Civil society in the academic community,” published in MAG’s online newsletter “The Bridge-MOST”, Andrzej Tymowski, the convention chair, underscored the importance of such voluntary associations and gatherings of scholars during these turbulent times. In a moving keynote address, Bishop Borys Gudziak, Founder and President of UCU, spoke of the unique role of scholarship in the movement from fear to dignity at this crucial moment. The importance of the event, he urged, lay in the bringing together of scholars from so many different countries and areas of study to speak in and toward a common humanitarian discourse. You can also read the reflections of Ukrainian participants on an online forum.

Lviv Summer Convention

The Lviv Convention was a particularly invigorating moment for MAG. Thanks to support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the International Renaissance Foundation, MAG was able to give a significant number of grants to scholars from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Its essay competition resulted in 14 travel grants for Belarusians, 17 for Russians, and 38 grants for Ukrainians. The convention provided MAG with the opportunity to hold its largest ever general assembly, bringing together a diverse audience of current and interested members who shared their vision of the organization’s future, new plans for research projects, and future conferences. The assembly adopted important amendments to the MAG constitution to make its membership procedure more open and establish institutional membership. MAG invites scholars of all ranks from the region and elsewhere who are interested in creating a social and scholarly environment that preserves free expression and dissemination of humanitarian knowledge. 

We thank the following convention sponsors: Indiana U REEI, Stanford U CREEES, U of Pittsburgh REES, and UC Berkeley ISEEES. 

ASEEES plans to organize the next summer convention in 2019. Stay tuned for more information!