First Lady of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Institute visited Sorbonne University in Paris to hand over books and sign a cooperation agreement
9 November 2023, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and Director General of the Ukrainian Institute Volodymyr Sheiko visited the Sorbonne, one of the world’s oldest universities. The Ukrainian Institute have signed a Cooperation Agreement with the university, making the development of Ukrainian studies programmes possible again at the university. During the visit, the Sorbonne library received a collection of about 40 Ukrainian books on the history of Ukraine, the history of Ukrainian art, architecture, theatre and music.
First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska delivered an inspirational speech to students and graduates of the Sorbonne:
“Every aggressor, dictator, tyrant has a powerful opponent who truly frightens them. People with critical thinking. People who do not succumb to stereotypes, who analyse. And who are not indifferent. I see this spirit in today’s students, both Ukrainian and French. They cannot be fooled or intimidated.”
It is worth noting that Ukrainian studies programme was closed at the Sorbonne in 2012. All the books were transferred to other libraries, and students lost access to Ukrainian narratives as part of their courses. Cooperation Agreement between the Ukrainian Institute and the Sorbonne University will allow to resume work on the Ukrainian Studies department and programmes, to hold lectures and presentations by leading figures of Ukrainian culture and civil society, and to support students and young researchers who choose Ukrainian topics as a research subject.
“It is strategically crucial for Ukraine to develop Ukrainian studies centres abroad. And the Memorandum between the Ukrainian Institute and the Sorbonne University is a significant step towards the re-establishment of the Ukrainian Studies Department here. We cooperated with the Sorbonne University as part of the Printemps Ukrainien project last year and are grateful to our partners for the opportunity to expand our cooperation,”
comments Volodymyr Sheiko, Director General of the Ukrainian Institute.
The Cooperation Agreement for the development of Ukrainian studies at the Sorbonne was signed by Nathalie Drach-Temam, President of Sorbonne University, Volodymyr Sheiko, Director General of the Ukrainian Institute, and Iryna Dmytryshyn, President of the Association of the Ukrainian Institute in France. The signing ceremony at the Sorbonne library was also attended by Béatrice Perez, Dean of the Humanities Faculty, and professors who have already agreed to include Ukrainian lectures in their programmes.
To replenish Sorbonne’s library with Ukrainian literature, the Ukrainian Institute had prepared a selection of 40 books, including the bilingual collection Selected by Vasyl Stus, The Bright Path: The Story of a Concentration Camp by Stanislav Aseyev, the Crimean Figs anthology, Ukraïner. Ukrainian Insider by Ukraïner, and UKRAINE. Food & History by їzhakultura.
The students will learn about the history of Ukrainian art from the French edition of Ukrainian Artists in Paris 1900-1939 by Vita Susak, KAZIMIR MALEVICH. Kyiv Period 1928-1930 by Tetiana Filevska, Narbut. The Imaginative World of Heorhii Narbut and the Making of a Ukrainian Brand by Myroslava Mudrak, as well as numerous catalogues of Ukrainian art exhibitions.
About the Sorbonne University
The Sorbonne University is a public university in Paris that traces its historical continuity from the University of Paris, the second oldest university in the world (after Bologna), which was founded in 1257. Today, Sorbonne Université is the main and most prestigious center for humanities in France (history, philosophy, linguistics, literary studies, musicology, history of arts, geography, etc.). Unfortunately, the Sorbonne University still does not have a department or division of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar studies. At the same time, there are master’s programmes in Russian studies (under the name Mondes Russes – “Russian Worlds”).
Today, in France, Ukrainian Studies disciplines are systematically taught only at the Paris National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations INALCO (not directly affiliated with Sorbonne Université), where the Ukrainian Studies department headed by Irina Dmitrishin is represented by six lecturers.