News Release

How the war in Ukraine is challenging two academic disciplines

Symposium on the relations between peace and conflict studies and East European studies

Meeting Announcement

Bielefeld University

Organisers of the symposium


Three historians from Bielefeld University (from left), Professor Dr. Frank Grüner, Professorin Dr. Kornelia Kończal, and Dr. Yaroslav Zhuravlov, organised the symposium.

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Credit: Photos (from left): Bielefeld University, Stefan Sättele, Sarah Jonek

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, two academic disciplines have come to fore: peace and conflict studies and East European studies. Experts from both fields represent important voices in the public discourse. A symposium entitled ‘War and Peace in Ukraine: Reflecting, Studying and Engaging Across Disciplines” will be held from 12 until 13 October 2023 at Bielefeld University. It brings together experts from both fields in order to discuss the relationship between them and challenges of participating in a highly charged public debate revolving around the war. One of the guests will be the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Ukraine, Oleksandra Matviichuk.

For a good thirty years, peace and conflict studies and East European studies did not have much in common in Germany. ‘This changed dramatically with Russia’s attack on Ukraine,’ says Professor Dr Kornelia Kończal, a historian at Bielefeld University. She conceptualized the symposium in Bielefeld together with Dr Yaroslav Zhuravlov and Professor Dr Frank Grüner, two colleagues also from Bielefeld University. ‘Due to the increased public interest in Ukraine and its history, voices from both disciplines have become indispensable in the media,’ says Kończal. Ukrainian scholars, who have had to leave their country because of the war, are also shaping both fields of research and their interdisciplinary linkages.

Symposium participants will examine the shifting dynamics between peace and conflict studies and East European studies. Prominent figures in both disciplines will come together to discuss methodological approaches, controversies, intersections, and missed opportunities. A key question here is to what extent interest in Ukraine has changed in these academic fields over the past year and a half.
The symposium will also take a closer look at the public discourse on Ukraine in Germany. ‘The increasing scope of confrontation with the country’s issues – past and present – is not free of misconceptions and misunderstandings,’ says Yaroslav Zhuralov. The symposium will consider the challenges that arise when trying to bring academic expertise into a highly politicized debate – and the extent to which experts have succeeded in shaping the political and public discourse.

The symposium consists of two keynote lectures, four panel discussions, and a Q&A session. Historians of Ukraine, including Dr Fabian Baumann (University of Heidelberg), Professor Dr Guido Hausmann (Regensburg University), Professor Dr Ricarda Vulpius (University of Münster) and Dr Anna Veronika Wendland (Herder-Institute Marburg) will speak, along with Ukrainian authors and academics, including Jurko Prochasko (Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kyiv), Professor Dr Valeria Korablyova (Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic), Dr Viktoriya Sereda (Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin) and Dr Tatiana Zhurzhenko (Centre for East European and International Studies, Berlin).

The Q&A with Oleksandra Matviichuk, who heads the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) in Kyiv and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, promises to be a highlight of the symposium program.
The event is being organised by Professor Dr Kornelia Kończal, Professor Dr Frank Grüner and Dr Yaroslav Zhuravlov (all historians at Bielefeld University), together with Dr Franziska Davies (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich), Professor Dr Gelinada Grinchenko (University of Wuppertal) and Dr Nataliia Sinkevych (Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig). They are holding the conference in cooperation with the German-Ukrainian Historical Commission, the German Foundation for Peace Research, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at Bielefeld University, and the German Association for East European Studies.

The symposium will be held in English in Building X (Room X A2-103) on site at Bielefeld University, and will also be offered as a hybrid event, with the opportunity to participate via Livestream. To register for the event – both in person and online – please sign up by 10 October via email ( 

Members of the press will have the opportunity to speak with Gelinada Grinchenko, Frank Grüner, Kornelia Kończal and Yaroslav Zhuravlov about the issues and topics to be addressed in the symposium right before the start of the event on Thursday, 12 October, beginning at 2:30 pm. Please sign up by 11 October at

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