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DPIR alumna Professor Olga Onuch becomes English-speaking world’s first Ukrainian politics professor

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The Department is delighted to hear Oxford politics alumna Professor Olga Onuch (DPhil Politics, 2007) has been appointed Professor in Comparative and Ukrainian Politics at the University of Manchester – understood to be the English-speaking world’s first ever Ukrainian politics professor.

Professor Onuch joined The University of Manchester in 2014 after holding several research posts at various universities including – most recently – the University of Oxford (2011-14). She was also an Associate Member (Politics) at Nuffield College from 2014 to 2021.

In her new post, Professor Onuch will launch the pioneering Ukraine Rises: Democracy, Protest, Identity and War in Comparative Perspective course centering on contemporary Ukrainian politics and featuring guest lectures from Ukrainian and UK-based policy practitioners and scholars.

A specialist on Ukraine, since 2014 Professor Onuch has advised the Ukrainian government on issues and liaised with leading diplomats around the world.

Her work focuses on, among other areas, the driving forces behind citizens’ reasons to vote, protest, and/or migrate. She is the author of three books, her most recent being the 2022 release The Zelensky Effect, in which she analysed the scale of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion.

Of her appointment, she said: “When I was first a graduate student at Oxford and President of the Oxford University Ukrainian Society, there were no full Professors with the title of Ukrainian Studies or Ukrainian Politics at the time, and so it seemed impossible.

“In fact, I was only the third Ukrainian Woman to receive a DPhil from Oxford - previously came Nadia Diuk and Marta Dyczok.

“But it was because I was standing on the shoulders of these women and also had the support of key mentors Gwendolyn Sasse, Laurence Whitehead, Nancy Bermeo, Desmond King and later Paul Chaisty, Timothy Power, Ben Ansell and Jane Green - who taught me the importance of language-based country expertise and how to couple it with empirical rigour in comparative politics.

“They encouraged me to pave my own way and now I hope that my becoming the first Professor in Comparative and Ukrainian Politics inspires the next generation to do the same.”

When I was first a graduate student at Oxford and President of the Oxford University Ukrainian Society, there were no full Professors with the title of Ukrainian Studies or Ukrainian Politics at the time, and so it seemed impossible."

DPIR alumna Professor Olga Onuch