March 4, 2022
The U.S. Comparative and International Education Society stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian citizens and sovereign state, as they attempt to repel an unprovoked and unjustifiable Russian invasion of a free and democratic nation that has fully disrupted teaching, learning, and daily life. We express our deepest concern for the immediate wellbeing of all people whose lives are imperiled by Russian state terror and violence, and for the long-term wellbeing and academic freedoms of students, faculty, and staff whose lives will be reshaped by the devastation wrought in the name of imperial ambitions.
The invasion has halted daily schooling activities. An estimated 750 Ukrainian schools and other education institutions have been severely damaged or destroyed. Children and teachers have been killed in attacks targeting civilian sites, and millions of students have been displaced, fleeing to safety. Ukrainian college and university students have put down books to take up arms in the struggle. Education researchers, policymakers, and practitioners face threats to their lives and their freedom to speak truth to power. As the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN reminded us, the colonial impulse and its historical ligature haunts us all.
The invasion of Ukraine reflects back to us the complex educational ties that connect us globally. As a society of educators, we affirm our support for anti-imperial and anti-colonial efforts in Ukraine and around the world. We recognize the dignity and full humanity of every teacher, learner, family, and community in Ukraine and around the world. And we recognize that the Ukrainian people’s battle to claim and maintain their inalienable rights to life, liberty, peace, self-determination, and education is a battle in which we all have a stake. For some of us, it is family and friends in the eye of the storm right now. For others, it may be a recognition that, regardless of our geolocation, as Elie Wiesel says, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest” (Wiesel 1986).
We register our collective protest to the violence and denial of fundamental rights being directed at civilians by the Russian military. We register our collective protest to the breaking of international laws and sovereign state boundaries. We register our collective protest about the long-term impacts—including educational impacts—of the carnage and destruction that children, youth, and adults are experiencing in Ukraine. We recognize the bravery of citizens around the world, including in Russia, who are being jailed for protesting this war. We stand in solidarity with all Ukrainians, while also acknowledging that even in such moments, existing systems of inequity shape differential outcomes for people. International students studying at Ukrainian universities have lost their lives in war zones, and international students have been denied entry onto trains and buses and at international borders as they attempt to flee Ukraine, paying the ultimate price for the global racism and xenophobia that marks the international education experiences of so many students of color. And we demand that the Russian government act in accordance with the Safe Schools Declaration, and refrain from targeting or destroying educational infrastructure including universities, schools, and kindergartens.
Additional Resources and Materials
We have collected sources and materials to serve as starting points for CIES members who would like to access up-to-date information and further reading, make donations, and encourage their institutions to take further action (particularly for CIES members affiliated with universities).
Statement by CIES Eurasia SIG
Institutional Action Support for Universities and University Staff
Those of you who may want to support the NAUKMA, the oldest university in Kyiv, can contact Professor Kvit directly by this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learning more about the situation
Anatoly Oleksiyenko (CIES member):
Anne Applebaum (2017). Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. Moreover, her excellent collection of articles provides insights on how the Ukrainian question is discussed in the West, Russia, and Eurasia currently. See this link in the Atlantic. You can also follow her on Twitter: @anneapplebaum
Serhii Plokhy (2021). The Frontline: Essays on Ukraine’s Past and Present. This collection of essays expands on themes covered in his previous books, but it also provides current commentary and reflections. You can find more of his books on Ukraine, Russia and the former Soviet Union here. Prof. Plokhy has also recommended a list of books recently. For updates, see his Twitter: @SPlokhy
Timothy Snyder (2012). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. In addition, his best-seller “The Road to Unfreedom: : Russia, Europe, America”, where he explains the origins of Russian fascism, can be found here. Prof. Snyder’s collection of papers is listed at his university profile For the most recent updates on Timothy Snyder’s writing and media appearances, please follow him on Twitter: @TimothyDSnyder.