The Ukraine project aims to study the Ukrainian government’s democratic reform program and its ongoing implementation with a view to assessing its feasibility, tracking its progress, formulating recommendations on its further development, and making policy recommendations for not only Ukraine but also for EU-Ukraine and Canada-Ukraine relations. The Ukrainian government under current President Poroshenko has set as its primary foreign economic policy goal the acquisition of membership in the EU. The deadweight, however, of authoritarian politics, crony capitalism, and Soviet-style bureaucracy are formidable obstacles to the success of any reform program along Western lines. Not to mention the inertia of twenty years of half-hearted or no reforms. As the February 2014 Revolution and the unrelenting violent conflict indicate, Ukraine’s situation is close to desperate. The topic is extremely important and the research questions are the following: What is the political dynamics facilitating or blocking such reforms in the past and what may this tell reformers about the future? Is the government’s program feasible, given the structural and cultural obstacles? What can Ukraine learn from comparable reforms undertaken in neighboring countries? What resonance does this development have with the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada, and what opportunities does it create for Canada’s foreign policy?
Post-secondary education reform
“Reform of education” is one item on the Ukrainian government’s list of strategic priorities. “Establishing a Western system of establishing core competencies in curricula” and “public student accessibility to future universities” are two more relevant here. In this regard, a second team of international experts will, as part of this project, study the Ukrainian universities “in transition” – from the Soviet model, to Corrupt, to New Humanist, avoiding the Humboldtian-EU, and, finally, Neoliberalized. In the process, any of these post-Soviet manifestations has been able to realize only a piece of itself in a variety of ways. This entails, more specifically, examining: how internationalization and globalization are affecting universities in Ukraine; how neo-liberalism is overtaking the university system; what the North American models of management and financial administration reveal about the future of universities in Ukraine; and, given these changes, what will be the formation and characteristics of the coming generation of the Ukrainian political elite, drawn from these universities. In a word, the researchers will analyze the political economy of higher education in Ukraine, critically examining its contribution to “democratization.”