2020 Conference

Friday October 16, 2020

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“Ukraine is not yet dead”—so runs the opening line of Ukraine’s traditional national anthem, reflecting Ukraine’s long struggle to assert its own identity in the face of opposition. Although these words were written in the 19th century, they continue to reflect the harsh realities facing Ukraine. Located at a geopolitical crossroads, Ukraine faces a myriad of challenges, including an ongoing undeclared war with Russia. The effects of Russia-Ukraine tensions are global, though, reverberating from Washington, to Brussels, to Ankara.

Religion plays a critical, yet often overlooked, role in the domestic and international politics of Ukraine. Understanding the religious dimension of Ukraine’s challenges is crucial to clarifying the possibilities for peace in the region. In particular, the 2018 establishment of an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, independent of the Russia Orthodox Church, was an event of historic magnitude. Its impact is still unfolding, with profound implications for international security, religious pluralism, and identity formation. This conference will be an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the history and significance of religion in Ukraine, as well as the ongoing issues at the intersection of religion, pluralism, and security.

9:45-10:00 AM – Welcome

  • Dean Rachel Kyte, Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

 10:00 – 11:30 AM – Panel 1. Contested Histories, Narrative, and Identity in Ukraine: The Intersection of Religion and Geography

  • Moderator/Discussant: Dr. Christopher Miller (Assistant Professor of International History at The Fletcher School and Co-Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program)
  • Dr. Serhii Plokhii (Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University)
  • Dr. Nicholas Denysenko (Prof. of Theology and Emil & Eflriede Jochum University Chair, Valparaiso University)
  • Dr. Oxana Shevel (Associate Prof. of Political Science, Tufts University)


11:30 – 11:45 PM –  Break

11:45 – 1:15 PM – Panel 2. Religious Ecosystem: Pluralism, Freedom, and Civil Society

  • Moderator/Discussant: Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou; Faculty Director, Initiative on Religion, Law and Diplomacy, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
  • Sergei Chapnin (Chairman, Artos Fellowship  for Contemporary Christian Culture, Moscow; former Chief Editor, Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate)
  • Dr. Tetiana Kalenychenko (Sociologist of religion and Dialogue Facilitator, Trainer, and Mediator)
  • Rev. Dr. Andrew Bennett (Director of the North American Action Team, Religious Freedom Institute)
  • Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis (Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Paris, France)

1:15 – 1:30 PM –  Break

1:30 – 2:30 PM  Keynote

  • Speaker Introduction by Dr. Alan K. Henrikson, Lee E. Dirks Professor of Diplomatic History Emeritus, Founding Director of Diplomatic Studies, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
  • Ambassador John E. Herbst (Director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council & former Ambassador to Uzbekistan and to Ukraine)
  • Moderator/Discussants: Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou and Dr. Alan K. Henrikson

2:30 – 2:45 PM – Break

2:45 – 4:15 PM – Panel 3. Geopolitics of Eurasia

  •  Moderator: Dr. Sharyl Cross (Distinguished Professor & Director Kozmetsky Center, St. Edward’s University & Global Policy Fellow, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars)
  • Dr. Nikolas Gvosdev (Editor of Orbis & Prof. of National Security, U.S. Naval War College)
  • Barbora Maronkova (former Director of NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Ukraine)
  • Dr. Monica Toft (Professor of International Politics and Director, Center for Strategic Studies, The Fletcher School, Tufts University)
  • Dr. Igor Zevelev (Global Fellow, Kennan Institute of the Wilson Center)

4:15 – 4:30 PM – Closing Remarks



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