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UST and Ukrainian Scholars Discuss Renewal of Liberal Arts Education

UCU zoom meeting participantsOn March 13 and 14, scholars from the University of St. Thomas-Houston and sister university, Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), engaged in a virtual colloquium to discuss the powerful role that a Catholic liberal arts education plays in the preparation and formation of the next generation of public and private sector leaders.  Despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine, UCU persists in its essential role of educating Ukraine’s young people and providing them the opportunity to flourish. The colloquium was the product of a collaboration between UST’s Dr. Tom Behr and UCU’s Dean of Humanities, Dr. Andrii Yasinovsky.  Dr. Behr serves as the division dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Global Studies and director of the Master in Liberal Arts and Integrated Studies programs. 

The impetus of the colloquium sprang from exchanges between Behr and Yasinovsky about how the Liberal Arts are most effectively incorporated into and across undergraduate and graduate curriculum.  UCU is in the process of launching a new MA program in Liberal Arts, and Behr saw the opportunity for UST to be of assistance as a global influencer. 

On the colloquium’s second day, the Honorable Vitalii Tarasiuk (Consul General of Ukraine in Houston) joined the meeting to express his support and appreciation for academic collaboration between UST and UCU.  He further emphasized the importance of maintaining people-to-people relations between our two nations during the crisis in Ukraine.

Speakers from UST included Dr. Andrew Hayes, Dr. Michael Boler, and Dr. Jon Kirwan, each respectively discussing the impetus, content and execution of the liberal arts-driven renewal of UST’s core curriculum, Honors Program and doctorate in educational leadership. Behr also provided a detailed overview and rationale behind the creation of the Integrated Studies Program and revision of UST’s Master in Liberal Arts. From these bases, additional questions were addressed about cultivating student and institutional participation, pedagogical strategies and answering questions of relevance. 

Dr. Hans Stockton, associate vice president for International Relations & Engagement, has high praise for Behr’s latest success.

“What truly breathes life into UST’s international partnerships is when our faculty take academic ownership of projects with sister universities,” Stockton said.  “While it is my honor to create the encounter, we rely on our faculty to create the substantive dialogue.” 

Stockton was struck by the intensity with which the participants in Houston and Lviv engaged in such a rich exchange of ideas within a shared context of the liberal arts.

This colloquium was yet another outgrowth of UST’s Greater Things strategic vision and renewed commitment to leveraging global partnerships and collaboration.  Faculty interested in pursuing similar virtual or in-person international scholarly exchanges should contact Stockton at stockton@stthom.edu.