"The Human Rights Crisis in Ukraine" course speakers and outline announced

May 12, 2022

As the crisis unfolds in Ukraine, the University of Arizona is offering unprecedented real-time online access to human rights practitioners who are actively working in Ukraine and neighboring countries

Connecting live via Zoom, these frontline activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens are documenting human rights abuses, assisting refugees and displaced persons, and framing cultural resistance to Russian aggression -- and in the process writing the proverbial "first draft of history."

From May 16 to July 1, students from around the world can take this one-of-a-kind course, which draws up on the Human Rights Practice Program's global network of practitioners and scholars. The course can be taken on a non-credit basis (as a "Community Classroom" experience) or for 3 credits (as HRTS 496a/596a: Human Rights Crisis in Ukraine).



The Ukraine Crisis and Human Rights 

 Course Outline  


NOTE: because of the ongoing nature of this crisis, the schedule is subject to change

The class is asynchronous except for the video conversations and webinars which will be scheduled on various days of the week and times.  Recordings will be made available to participants not able to attend live sessions.


Instructor: Dr. Olena Tanchyk is a former dean of the Faculty of Economics at Donetsk State University of Management (Ukraine, Mariupol city). Olena is a PhD in Economics, but her passion for the English language led her to teaching English as a second language. She has extensive experience working with different age groups, including abroad. Olena is involved in such projects as the Access Microscholarship Program and English for NGOs and Civil Society; she is a facilitator of the English for Media Literacy and Very Verified: a course on media literacy projects in Ukraine. In addition, Olena was an initiator and an author of the IMPULSE and Until Every Barrier Falls project for English teachers' skills enhancement in her community and an English teacher for the Ukrainian Academy of Leadership in the Mariupol affiliate. Currently, Olena is a Fulbright scholar at Arizona State University and her research interests are in special and inclusive education. Mrs. Tanchyk had to leave Donetsk after the Russian invasion in 2014 and now she is experiencing a horrific deja vu as her new home in Mariupol is under heavy bombardment and siege. UA Co-Instructor: Dr. Mette Brogden, a medical and cultural anthropologist with long experience in resettling refugees and addressing severe trauma in survivors of mass human rights violations.


Week 1    May 15:  Introductory Week

Topics: Introduction to the course, each other, and the current status in Ukraine.

Video Conversations: Ukrainians (Olena Tanchyk, Anastasiia Gordiienko, and Elena) discuss their experiences including a live conversation with someone who is staying in Kharkiv despite the incessant bombardment of the city.


Week 2    May 22:  Relevant History of the Region

Topics:  Russian Civil War - 1918-1921, Holodomor - 1932-1933, Ukraine during World War II, Comparisons of Stalinism and Nazism Cold War and NATO, Breakup of the Soviet Union and after.  

Video Conversation 1: Boris Belenkin, executive member of International Memorial (until its closure by the Russian Federation in February 2022 )

Video Conversation 2:  Liudmila Klimanova and Svetlana Dembovskaya on language, identity, and history for Ukrainians and Russians


Week 3   May 29: Politics of the Region: Mr. Putin’s Neighborhood

Topics:  Previous Expansionist aims of Russia, Putinism, Russification, NATO and the Possible Provocation of Russia, South Ossetia, Chechnya, Transnistria, Donbas, Minsk, Budapest Memoranda, Trump, Zelensky and Perfect Calls  

Video Conversation: Dimitry Dubrovsky, Professor and Russian Opposition Figure  


Week 4  June 5:  Refugees

Topics: Filtration Camps in Russia, Forced Displacement, Race and Refugees, European Asylum Policy, Current Situation for Refugees in Eastern Europe, Humanitarian Corridors, Grassroots Efforts to Move Ukrainians to Safety   

Video Conversation 1: Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, Holocaust Scholar from Jagellonian University in Poland who is working to settle Ukrainian refugees

Video Conversation 2:  Pavel, mini-van driver who has partnered with other drivers to evacuate Ukrainians from the eastern part of the country and to ferry supplies back to the conflict regions.

Video Conversation 3: Tatiana Lomakinacoordinator of actions on humanitarian corridors of the Office of the President of Ukraine. 


Week 5     June 12: War Crimes and Accountability

Topics:  War Crimes, Accountability, the ICC, Special Tribunals, Geneva Conventions, Data Gathering, War Rape, Comparisons with Other Attempts at Accountability, Wars of Aggression as a Violation of International Law   

Video Conversation 1: Tetiana Pechonchyk, Head of the Human Rights Centre Zmina in Kyiv, Ukraine on current evidence gathering for war crimes and crimes against humanity

WEBINAR - The Ukraine Crisis and the Law: Data Collection and Accountability 

1.     Tetiana Pechonchyk,  Head of the Human Rights Centre Zmina in Kyiv, Panel moderator

2.     Arkadiy Bushchenko, Judge of the Supreme Court of Ukraine (Criminal Cassation)

3.     Vitaliy Nabukhotny, International human rights lawyer who has brought applications to the European Court of Human Rights and communications to the International Criminal Court for actions of Russia in Ukraine

4.      Najwa Nabti, UN Legal Officer (Gender-Based Crimes) and Former Appeals Prosecutor at the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, expert on conflict-related sexual violence


Week 6  June 19: Media

Topics:  Roles of Traditional and Social Media, Propaganda, Conspiracy Theories, Disinformation, Cults of Personalities, Zelensky’s Use of the Media, Grassroots Media, Protest Songs  

Video ConversationSara Cincurova, Front Line Defenders, Journalist from Slovakia who has covered forced migration in the region for years.  

WEBINAR - Media, Information, and Conflict 

Moderators: Liudmila Klimanova, Russian and Slavic Studies and Jeannine Relly, School of Journalism

1.     Ksenia Turkova  - a broadcast journalist for the Russian service of Voice of America in the United States, an international journalist, linguist, and educator

2.     Sara Cincurova - Front Line Defenders  

3.     Roman Davydov, Program Director for Kraina FM, recently featured in The New Yorker as the "radio station of national resistance". 


Week 7  June 26: War Rape in Ukraine

Previous precedents, previous contexts, ICTR, ICTY, ICC, trauma and sexual violence, sexual violence as genocide,  

Video Conversation 1: Najwa Nabti, UN Legal Officer (Gender-Based Crimes) and Former Appeals Prosecutor at the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, expert on conflict-related sexual violence (To be confirmed)

Video Conversation 2:  TBA


Final Webinar:  Ukrainian Culture and Protest with Leading Ukrainian Stars

Moderator:  Anastasiia Gordiienko, Russian and Slavic Studies, Former Ukrainian Radio Personality, Expert on Russian and Ukrainian Protest Songs

Participants TBA, including a leading hip-hop artist and a leading filmmaker