At the beginning of April 2024 a delegation comprising four researchers travelled to war-torn Ukraine under the auspices of the Royal Academy and visited several major universities. The four researchers included Marie-Louise Nosch, president of the Royal Academy, and three members of the Danish Young Academy: Birgitte Beck Pristed, Inga Kapustian and Nadiia Pavlyk. Learn more about them in Chapter 4 of this miniseries, which shares more from their travel diary.  

This chapter describes their visits to Ukrainian Catholic University, Ivan Franko National University in Lviv and several children’s book publishers that publishes children’s books about the war. 

A new chapter will be published each week in the month of May from their travel diary.

Delegate contributions are presented in their own words.

The Ukrainian Catholic University is a small, private elite university with only 1800 students and impressive research environments of Artificial Intelligence on a beautiful and modern campus. We were warmly greeted by the three Vice-Rectors: Yaroslav Prytula – Provost, Dmytro Sherengovsky – Vice Rector for Outreach, and Sophia Opatska – Vice Rector for Strategic Development.

The leadership explained inspiring measures both to sustain and retain the most talented students and young scholars but also measures of inclusion of vulnerable or disabled students and citizens in campus life.

[See article on visit]

Meeting students and staff of International relations at Lviv University
In a beautiful building from the 19th century at the great Ivan Franko National University in Lviv, one of Eastern Europe's oldest universities, an interdisciplinary faculty for International Relations has been established with political science and many languages, including Estonian and Scandinavian, and professor and dean Markiyan Malskyy, former ambassador to Poland, trains a new generation of Ukrainian diplomats here. We were warmly welcomed by Dr. Borys Sulym and Professor Markiyan Malskyy who invited us to join the class and give a short talk. 

However, the class was abruptly interrupted by an air raid alarm, prompting us to continue our discussion in the shelter. Despite the unexpected interruption, the students expressed great enthusiasm in engaging with us foreign guests. They were eager to discuss student life, research perspectives, European values, and strategies for developing a humanistic and democratic society. This experience underscored the resilience and determination of both the academic community and students in Lviv amidst challenging circumstances

[See photos below]

Children's book publishers in Lviv
Nadiia Pavlyk and Birgitte Pristed conducted fieldwork interviews with director Bogdan Trojanovs’kii and editor Lyubov Kindratovych of the Greek-Catholic publishing house Svichado, founded in 1987 as an anti-Soviet underground publisher and today housed in a beautifully renovated monastery in Lviv. Normally, the production of hand-illustrated books is a demanding and time-consuming process. But only two months after Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine, Svichado launched its first book about the war for children by the artist Bogdana Bondar about the famous cargo aircraft An-225 Mriya (transl. Dream: heavenly airlines) from the battle of Antonov Airport. By interpreting the meaningless of war within a religious framework, Svichado seeks to bring children a sense of hope.

At the Lviv-based creative space FEST! we visited the 2001 founded Old Lion Publishing House, one of the leading Ukrainian children’s book publishers, and interviewed director Marjana Savka and editor Natalka Maletych. The remarkable facade of the tall publishing building features a large dimensioned “book shelf” in the pop style of roadside architecture, currently displaying a cover of the story about Tor Tractor, who is Dragging Away the Tank. The publishing house is full of children, in the ground floor there is a children’s book cafe and a kindergarten, which was opened by the director to show her employees that children and career do not exclude each other. 

[See photos below]

View Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3, and Chapter 5.