On the birthday of the Faculty of Humanities: Natalya Kovalchuk, Olena Dzhedzhora and Andrii Yasinovskyi on establishing of the Faculty

On October 21, 2019 the Faculty of Humanities of the Ukrainian Catholic University celebrated its birthday. On this date, we have collected very personal comments of teachers who were present at the first steps of the new born Faculty. The oral history here is closely intertwined with personal experience, hopes and ideas.

Natalia Kovalchuk, head of the bachelor’s program Artes Liberales, candidate of historical sciences:

До свята св. Томи, патрона Гуманітарного факультету: Наталія Ковальчук, Олена Джеджора та Андрій Ясіновський про створення факультету

For the first time I’ve heard about foundation of the new Faculty at the Lviv Theological Academy from Yaroslav Hrytsak. In 2001, he was a lecturer at the Central European University and I studied there at the master’s programme on history. The original plan aimed at establishing a history department but as a result of the discussion, the wider concept of the liberal arts department won. History courses, in particular, the history of European civilization, were an important component of theological education. At the same time, the Lviv Theological Academy had a powerful tradition of studying classical and modern foreign languages, which served as a kind of “key” to both studying tradition and getting familiar with modern studies on philosophy, theology and humanities. Thus, history, languages and, more recently, cultural studies have become the main areas of activity of the Humanitarian Faculty. I wish everyone who represents the HF today not to forget basic values of our work, to think critically and creatively and to believe in the power of human scienses!

Olena Dzhedzhora, lecturer at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History of Ukraine:

До свята св. Томи, патрона Гуманітарного факультету: Наталія Ковальчук, Олена Джеджора та Андрій Ясіновський про створення факультету

The Faculty is the same age as the new millennium. Its birth was preceded by long-term preparatory work and a lot of discussions at the late ’90s, in which both Ukrainian historians and our partners from abroad were involved. Many interesting meetings took place there and an international conference on understanding of history and its tasks in a modern university was organized. At that time, we did not have any “legal” support from the Ministry of Education, which still had completely Soviet views on the goals and objectives of universities. Words like “freedom of intellectual search”, “autonomy”, “interdisciplinarity” did not rise there anything except panic at best or prohibition at worst. But in university circles such support existed, and this has become extremely important for us. The best professors and teachers of the historical faculties of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy, Lviv National University, Zaporozhye, Chernivtsi and Volyn Universities became truly interested in such an idea – to create a new historical programme from the ground up, without or with minimal state restrictions. We have received great help in shaping our vision and programme from Warsaw – institutes of multidisciplinary Artes Liberales. Those meetings and discussions formed the circle of permanent partners of UCU in such important later initiatives as, for example, IIHS (inter-institutional interdisciplinary humanitarian studios), the project of university autonomy and others. One of the main initiators of the history programme was the current Metropolitan and President of the UCU Boris Gudziak. His personal professional education combined theology and history, he used to see historicism and urge for original sources of testimonies as basic component of Christian worldview. Therefore, the creation of the new history programme within the walls of the Lviv Theological Academy was not just the first step towards turning it into a full-fledged university but also a very logical, thoughtful worldview declaration. The history programme has been initially conceived as interdisciplinary, historical and philological, with an in-depth study of classical and foreign languages. That would grant for young graduates direct access to historical sources and modern Western historiography, which at that time was almost completely inaccessible in Ukraine. This vision has failed to be realized immediately. The obstacle was made by stuffing problems and later by a long struggle with the Ministry of Education. But as our present shows, the faculty has never given up on its vision, and today we are witnessing the next important step in this direction – the development of the Artes Liberales programme.

There were many complicated and funny stories related to the establishing of the Faculty. There were caroling in the Ministry of Education and Science offices, broken limbs during the end of the school year celebration, attempts to revolutionize the curriculum, as well as cheering teachers. I will keep this all as an intrigue, because I do not feel I have a right to share these too intimate memories without the consent of the direct participants. Perhaps, when our students begin a special project on oral history, they will collect numerous testimonies from many participants. For those who were at the forefront of this project, the biggest reward is the opportunity to observe the establishing of new buildings, the emergence of powerful scientific publications by our teachers, and what warms heart most of all – appearing serious graduate scientists who start their own programs and areas of research.

What can I say? “Feci, quod potui, faciat meliora potentes.” What to wish to those who are following our footsteps? Do your job as you used to – with enthusiasm and joy. And remember that “history is too serious a matter to leave it to historians,” and therefore expand your contacts and horizons, look for new promising intersections, experiment and develop the Faculty fully corresponding to such a binding name as “Humanitarian”.

Andrii Yasinovskyi, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Candidate of Historical Sciences, former head of the Department of Classical, Byzantine and Medieval Studies (ClaBM):

До свята св. Томи, патрона Гуманітарного факультету: Наталія Ковальчук, Олена Джеджора та Андрій Ясіновський про створення факультету

First, was ClaBM. More precisely, a corner in the Institute of Church History, in which Ulyana Golovach since 1993 has been creating curricula in classical languages ​​and translating from English the first Ukrainian Greek language textbook for theology students. Soon, the Department of Classical Languages was created and after the establishing of the Faculty of Humanities in 2002 was renamed into the department of ClaBM. The mission of this “community in community” is to keep studying the ideas of ancient and Christian writers who wrote in Greek and Latin, by digging into texts and sharing knowledge with students of the Humanities and Faculty of Philosophy and Theology. The achievements of this work in over a quarter of a century are been measured in dozens of specialists who study texts of ancient thinkers or successfully apply the experience gained in other fields, and the appearance of the publishing houses “In Via” and “Ad Libitum” which publish brilliant translations to Ukrainian. After restructuring of the Faculty of Humanities in 2016 and with the launch of the Artes Liberales educational model, ClaBM shared its staff potential with the new Department of Philology. Within the framework of the worldview core, students of all bachelor’s programs are been offered the World Civilizations course which is largely based on the experience of teachers’ texts studying and ideas that once formed the coordinate system of modern European culture. All Artes Liberales students study Latin; philologists also study Greek, this gives them a key to reading the originals and direct access ad fontes, to the sources. There is an opportunity to improve linguistic and cultural competencies in the framework of summer schools, which are ultimately open to everybody who is interested in such studies. This is an important advantage and a point of differentiation from humanitarian programs in other Ukrainian universities. Anyone who cares about the future of our civilization, who does not want human to fade from view behind modern technology, who believes in classical values and does not want them to be put on aside, I gladly welcome under the banner of the Faculty of Humanities and sincerelly invite to community development.