Margaret Atwood and Timothy Snyder to headline Ukraine benefit conference

More than a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, universities around the world are taking steps to support scholars affected by the fighting in their country.

To date, more 170 Ukrainian institutions of higher education have been damaged and more than 20 have been completely destroyed. Academics who remain in Ukraine now conduct their research, teaching, and public service in very challenging circumstances.

On March 17-19, the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy will host a digital benefit conference with keynote talks by world-renowned author and U of T alumna Margaret Atwood, acclaimed historian Timothy Snyder and two of Ukraine’s leading public intellectuals: Mychailo Wynnyckyj and Volodymyr Yermolenko.

All money raised by the event, titled ‘What Good Is Philosophy? – A Benefit Conference for Ukraine,’ will support the Centre for Civic Engagement at Ukraine’s National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

“By assisting Ukrainian students and scholars today, this Centre will help pave the way for a vibrant and engaged post-war Ukraine,” says principal organizer and U of T alumnus Aaron Wendland, a Vision Fellow in Public Philosophy at King’s College, London and a senior research fellow at Massey College.

The conference will examine the role of academia during times of crisis, with participants analyzing the public impact of their academic research and exploring the relationship between the academy and civil society. It’s designed to provide individual academics, members of the public, colleges and universities, professional associations, charitable foundations, and private companies with a way to support Ukrainian students, scholars, and civic institutions.

What good is philosophy? The role of the academy in a time of crisis

Many philosophers from around the world will be participating. Those speaking will include Peter Adamson, Elizabeth Anderson, Seyla Benhabib, Judith Butler, Agnes Callard, Quassim Cassam, Tim Crane, Simon Critchley, David Enoch, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Sally Haslanger, Angie Hobbs, Barry Lam, Melissa Lane, Dominic Lopes, Kate Manne, Jeff McMahan, Jennifer Nagel, Philip Pettit, Kieran Setiya, Jason Stanley, Timothy Williamson and Jonathan Wolff.

The hope is to build an organization that can help counteract the destabilizing impact that Russia’s invasion has had on Ukrainian higher education and civilian life.

“Universities around the world began helping Ukrainian academics in exile through a mix of publicly and privately funded scholars-at-risk initiatives, which have helped Ukrainian refugees very much,” says Wendland. “However, academic institutions in Ukraine still need major international assistance.

“The Centre for Civic Engagement will aim to address the needs of the Ukrainian academy by offering institutional, intellectual, and financial support for students, scholars, and publicly engaged academics in the country.”

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