December 3, 2018
Indiana University, in partnership with the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, known as NaUKMA, in Kyiv, Ukraine, has been awarded a U.S. Department of State grant of just under $1 million to support the design and implementation of academic programs in government communications in Ukraine. IU will contribute an additional $360,000 to the project.
The programs will aid the professionalization of current and future communication specialists in Ukraine and will involve faculty and staff from The Media School, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Office of International Affairs in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. The four-year project will result in the creation and implementation of three academic programs: a Master of Public Administration track, an in-service certificate for working professionals and an undergraduate-level certificate.
“Government communication as a thematic concentration of study is almost nonexistent in Ukraine or the surrounding region,” said Russell Valentino, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and international affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-principal investigator of the project with Betsi Grabe, associate dean of The Media School.
“This project is really tailor-made for IU, with its long history of development partnerships around the world and its strengths in the study of Central and Eastern Europe. Ukraine occupies a crucial and sometimes tenuous place in European and world affairs, making the training of a new generation of public servants with effective communication skills essential.”
Andriy Meleshevych, president of NaUKMA and professor of law, said the perception of recent reforms in Ukraine is quite different inside and outside the country.
“Many international partners recognize major steps that the Ukrainian government has undertaken to reform the political and business environments,” he said. “At the same time, the government has not successfully communicated the positive impact of reforms and future vision to its citizens and has not adequately involved the public in different stages of policy-making. Better-informed citizens will lead to a more engaged electorate and population.”
Meleshevych said the program is the first of its kind in Ukraine and will help national and local governments communicate with the public and fulfill critical public communication tasks.
The connection between IU and Ukraine dates back to when Ukraine was still a Soviet republic. SPEA faculty members helped draft the independent country’s constitution and have continued to work with the Ukrainian government, receiving a $4.9 million grant in 2003 for the Parliamentary Development Project. In addition, IU offers instruction in Ukrainian language and culture, and has significant library holdings in Ukrainian history, art and literature.
SPEA professor Robert Kravchuk, an expert in Russian and Ukrainian public administration and political economy, said SPEA is looking forward to working again on governmental reform in Ukraine.
“SPEA has a long history of work with the Ukrainian parliament and various key ministries of government,” said Kravchuk, who will serve as academic director of the new project.
Grabe said the project is an excellent fit for The Media School. “I am delighted about this opportunity for a four-year collaboration between people, universities and countries who have a lot to offer each other,” she said. “There will be plenty of mutual sharing and learning — and the timing of this partnership is ideal. Faculty at The Media School have been working on a master’s degree in strategic communication, and now we will also embark, with our NaUKMA colleagues, on designing similar programs of study in Ukraine. This holds much promise for long-term engagement for faculty and students across institutions.”
Members from both institutions will communicate via biweekly video conferences, meet in person during three workshops, and work together during several faculty residencies and individual and group visits. Four NaUKMA faculty members will hold residencies at IU, and IU Media School faculty will spend time at NaUKMA.
Grabe said a small IU delegation will visit NaUKMA in the spring, and a Ukrainian contingent will come to Bloomington in the summer to start the work on curricular design.
The MPA and in-service certificate programs are scheduled to launch in September 2020, and the undergraduate certificate will be in place by 2021.