Home> War in Ukraine: A Year of Commitment and Actions at Sciences Po


War in Ukraine: A Year of Commitment and Actions at Sciences Po


The invasion of Ukraine by Russian military troops on 24 February, 2022 marked a major historical shift on the European continent. Having rejected all attempts at meditation by the international community, Russia instead invaded an independent nation with the intention of removing its sovereignty and violating international law. It is now terrorising the Ukrainian people and brandishing the threat of nuclear warfare.

As soon as the Russian invasion began, many students, teachers, researchers, employees and alumni of Sciences Po started to take action. Sciences Po has also committed to supporting all suggested initiatives in support of the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian academic community and the European values of humanism, freedom and solidarity, which are at the core of the institution.

On 4 March, 2022, Sciences Po’s President, Mathias Vicherat, the Sciences Po Board of Directors and the Sciences Po Academic Board issued statements condemning the arbitrary violence instigated by Russia, and reaffirming the institution’s humanitarian values. The values of peace, solidarity and academic freedom have formed the bedrock of the university’s policy since it was founded more than 150 years ago.

Since it was founded 150 years ago, Sciences Po has been a fervent defender of humanitarian values, committed to championing peace and solidarity between nations. From day one of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the institution has remained faithful to that founding tradition by opening its doors to students and researchers fleeing the war, and doing everything within its capacity to provide them with material, financial, logistical and psychological support. I would like to thank all of Sciences Po’s communities – students, faculty, staff and alumni – for their tireless efforts, and its donors for their generous support, which has allowed us to fulfill our role as an open and inclusive university, working at the forefront of contemporary issues.

Mathias Vicherat, Director of Sciences Po.

As an international research university, it is our duty to take action wherever academic freedom is threatened, and to contribute to disseminating knowledge and research to the greatest number of people. I commend the excellent work of Sciences Po’s researchers and their commitment to informing public debate. Any student, lecturer or researcher prevented from pursuing their activities may count on Sciences Po to open its doors.

Sergei Guriev, Provost of Sciences Po. 

A university in solidarity with Ukrainian refugee students

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, Sciences Po has stood in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

Having dealt with the urgent matter of repatriating and ensuring the safety of the Sciences Po students of various nationalities who were on academic exchange or completing internships in Ukraine or Russia at the time of the invasion, from March 2022 onwards, Sciences Po began hosting Ukrainian students forced to flee their home country.

There are currently 32 Ukrainian refugee students studying on the different Sciences Po campuses, principally the Dijon, Paris, Reims and Nancy Campuses.

  • 20 students from National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA). Arriving at Sciences Po in March 2022, these students joined the exchange programme as of September 2022.
  • 10 students from Taras Shevchenko University, as part of a new partnership with Sciences Po signed in solidarity subsequent to the invasion.
  • 2 students enrolled in a Master’s degree programme from the start of the 2022-2023 academic year.

The tuition fees for students enrolled in degree programmes are fully funded by donors, together with a partial fee waiver from Sciences Po.

In addition, the university has assisted 11 Ukrainian students who were enrolled at Sciences Po at the time of the invasion and are now unable to return to Ukraine so that they may continue their studies at the university. An exceptional Master’s admissions procedure was introduced, with substantial financial aid made available for these students.

Thanks to the efforts and generosity of Sciences Po’s donors, refugee students hosted at the university have also received a scholarship of €1,000 a month since their arrival. These study grants are largely financed through fundraising campaigns and the Erasmus+ programme. The students attended one of two Summer School programmes run at Sciences Po over the summer of 2022, and their tuition fees for these were also fully funded.

In total therefore, more than €900,000 have now been gathered and put towards supporting fleeing Ukrainian students given sanctuary at Sciences Po. As an example, €750,000 were raised from the Stanton Foundation, the Fondation Vinci pour la Cité, Eurazeo and numerous individual donors to fund bursaries for hosted students in emergency need. Sciences Po would like to acknowledge the surge of support it received from donors, businesses and foundations, and to thank them for their rapid and large-scale mobilisation. In parallel, the Erasmus+ programme has made a vital contribution to the university’s initiatives, providing €157,000 in emergency aid.

At the time of the war’s outbreak, there were 23 Ukrainian students studying at Sciences Po, either at the Undergraduate College, in Master’s programmes, or on an academic exchange.  

These students found themselves isolated from their families and powerless to help them during the invasion, then once more in contact with family members deprived of access to basic services. For their benefit, Sciences Po has instituted:

  • Financial aid, emergency funds or, in some cases, tuition fee adjustments, deferred payment deadlines, etc.
  • Administrative support in applications for extended student visas, where relevant.
  • A psychological support unit available to all.
  • Written support in applications for extended rental contracts from student housing providers, as well as access to free housing offered by members of the alumni community.
  • The option of extending exchange programmes or, in some cases, being considered for admission to a degree programme.

Sciences Po is France’s commitment university. Ever faithful to this identity, students at Sciences Po have been particularly active in their support of Ukraine since 24 February, 2022.

From the very start of the conflict, numerous solidarity initiatives have been launched on the university’s different campuses: assistance with administrative procedures, collection and distribution of food and clothing to Ukraine, etc.

  • From 24 February, 2022, students on the Dijon Campus asked the administrative team to lower campus flags to half-mast and display Ukrainian flags in the building’s windows. A collective was set up by students at Sciences Po and the University of Burgundy, bringing together high school and university students across the Bourgogne-Franche Comté region. Here are some of the initiatives spearheaded by this collective: institution of on-campus collection point, fundraising campaign for the Red Cross, list of rooms and properties available for refugees, partnership with the Secours Populaire Français to provide French language classes.
  • On the Reims Campus, several fundraising campaigns and clothing/food collections have been organised to aid the non-profits Rotaract, the Central and Eastern European Association, Amnesty International and Intéragir.
  • The collective Ukraine Support SciencesPo was launched at the end of February 2022 by students at Sciences Po. Its aim is to galvanise all Sciences Po students to advocate for peace, provide humanitarian support and contribute to coordinating student initiatives in Paris. The collective partnered with the Sciences Po Sports Association to organise a five-kilometre inter-association cross-country run to raise funds for Ukraine on 23 April, 2022. Proceeds were donated to the French Red Cross to support its work in Ukraine (setting up vital infrastructure to guarantee a water supply, providing basic necessities and medical equipment, first aid, psychosocial support...).
  • The Sciences Po Alumni Association (Fr) has provided support by compiling a directory of rooms and properties available free of charge to students in need of emergency housing. The association has also organised a clothing collection.
  • On 24 February, 2023, two refugee students hosted a commemoration event entitled “365 Days of War in Ukraine”. One year to the day since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the event welcomed a wide variety of Ukrainian speakers: politicians, public figures, experts, etc. The event will have an academic, an artistic and a personal dimension, with two exhibitions and a staged confessional monologue by Masha Isakova, a Ukrainian actor now living in France. The event will also be an opportunity to collect funds.

On 11 May, 2022, in an event organised by the Ukrainian embassy in France, President Volodymyr Zelensky gave an unprecedented and symbolic televised speech to students at universities across France. Streamed live from the lecture halls of Sciences Po, Zelensky’s speech addressed the drastic consequences of the war, youth advocacy for Ukraine, and the role of the European Union and NATO.

During a question and answer session with 900 students gathered in three lecture halls opened for the occasion, including student delegations from the event’s various partner universities (INSP, the Ecole Polytechnique, the Inalco, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris-Panthéon-Assas University, Sorbonne-Université, the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Lille, the University of Lyon, Université de Haute-Alsace and the Ecole du Louvre), the Ukrainian President reminded the young people that "the future lies with them" and that they will "decide the future of France, Ukraine and the world".

Zelensky’s speech was broadcast live for an hour on the major news channels in France. Streamed by the Conférence des Grandes, France Universités, the Conférence des directeurs des écoles françaises de management and the Conférence des directeurs des écoles françaises d'ingénieurs, the Ukrainian President’s speech and subsequent discussion were viewed by several thousand students in lecture halls at, among others, Paul Valéry Montpellier University, Université de Haute-Alsace, La Rochelle University, the COMUE University of Lyon, the Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne and the IUT de Béziers.

In addition, more than 300,000 people watched the speech live on YouTube.

A sanctuary university, campaigning for the protection of academic freedom worldwide

Hosting researchers forced to flee the war

Immediately following the invasion of Ukraine, Sciences Po issued statements affirming that its doors were open to researchers fleeing Ukraine and Russia to offer them a place to pursue their work as safely and serenely as possible.

Accordingly, as part of the institutional programme PAUSE (Fr), Sciences Po welcomed a Ukrainian researcher to its Urban School in 2022. The university has been a participant in the programme since its creation in 2017, hosting eight researchers in that time.

PAUSE works to facilitate the placement of exiled researchers in French higher education and/or research institutions. It also provides the researchers with administrative and logistical support, and supports them in finding a permanent position.

Over the course of 2023, Sciences Po will be further expanding and intensifying its provisions for welcoming students and researchers fleeing the conflict.

Advocating for the defence and protection of academic freedom worldwide

The freedom to teach, research, publish and disseminate research findings forms the bedrock of the modern university. It generates the conditions necessary for creativity and scientific innovation, as well as for the advancement of knowledge generally. It allows us to break free of established frameworks of thought (dogmas, dominant theories, presuppositions), to conceptualise problems differently and to devise new solutions.

Protecting academic freedom is an absolute priority at Sciences Po. This was evidenced by Mathias Vicherat’s recent appointment as head of a working group on the subject set up by the French university directors’ association France Universités.  

In that context, and as of March 2022, Sciences Po has made several decisions:

Since 5 March, 2022, Sciences Po has suspended the entirety of its academic partnership agreements with Russian universities. This decision was made following the Russian Union of Rectors’ address on 4 March, 2022. In a firm statement of support for President Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, the address called on the Russian academic community to show solidarity with the armed forces.

This decision by Sciences Po affects five agreements guaranteeing exchange programmes for students, as well as the university’s dual degree with MGIMO, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

In parallel, Sciences Po has offered assistance to its partner universities in Ukraine, particularly the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA), one of its historic partners, and Taras Shevchenko University, with whom it signed a partnership agreement in solidarity in April 2022.

Around 30 students attended a series of courses taught by Jean-Pierre Filiu at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA) in February 2023, either remotely and in person. Although the majority of those present were Master’s students, the course was also open to final-year undergraduates. A wide-range of questions were put to Filiu, demonstrating the students’ interest in the lecturer’s “Middle Eastern” approach. This support from the academic community at Sciences Po is all the more meaningful given that NaUKMA has already lost six of its approximately 4,000 students fighting on the frontline since the invasion in February 2022 (in addition to one lost in the Donbas in 2016).

As a founding member and coordinator of CIVICA, the European University of Social Sciences, which brings together ten higher education institutions as a pilot European university, Sciences Po signed the alliance’s joint statement denouncing the “illegal and unjust” war on March 4th, 2022. CIVICA joined the international community in “calling for the immediate cessation of the attacks”.

Sciences Po is a participant in the CIVICA for Ukraine” project, launched on 10 December, 2022 as part of the NAWA initiative “Solidarity for Ukraine”, funded by the Polish government. This project brings together CIVICA’s ten member universities and five Ukrainian universities. It provides a framework for cooperation whose aim is to protect Ukraine's academic potential and support its higher education in view of an increased collaboration with EU universities after the war. Due to run from January to December 2023, the project has a budget of over €200,000 and is led by the SGH Warsaw School of Economics, with the support of Sciences Po as CIVICA’s coordinator and partner. “CIVICA for Ukraine” provides a practical basis for involving students and faculty members at Ukrainian partner universities in the activities of the CIVICA alliance at all degree levels (Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD). It also has a research component.

As a founding member of the U7+ Alliance, Sciences Po is also a co-signatory of the joint statements issued in 2022:

On 18 March, 2022, the 21 universities of the U7+ Alliance, including Sciences Po, issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and calling on higher education institutions to mobilise in support of victims of the war and all other persons in need.

On 24 June, 2022, a second joint statement from the U7+, which was drafted during its annual summit chaired by Mathias Vicherat, urged Group of Seven (G7) leaders to defend academic freedom,warning that a resurgence of autocracy is undermining the institutional autonomy of higher education and its ability to fulfil its mission”. In this statement, the U7+ Alliance further called on G7 member states "to ensure that academics are able to conduct their work free from national and international political interference". Finally, it urged the G7 to "support the values of peace and open society, particularly the plight of refugees” and insisted "that all those fleeing conflict be treated equally, regardless of race or any other identity”.

With the same unwavering commitment to academic freedom, and mindful of the repeated threats to which that freedom remains subject within the Russian Federation, Sciences Po awarded an honorary doctorate to Elena Zhemkova, the executive director of the NGO Memorial on 21 June, 2022. In awarding this title, the university sought to honour the organisation, which has spent 30 years working in Moscow and throughout Russia to compile a history of mass atrocities and political repression in the former USSR, and to defend human rights wherever they are threatened. In October of last year, the Russian branch of Memorial was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sciences Po also supports the work of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, which, prior to its liquidation in 2021, investigated persisting human rights violations within the Russian Federation.

A research university committed to analysing the war and studying international relations in the Eurasian region 

As a world-class international research university, Sciences Po has been working actively since February 2022 to expand and enrich its research in the Eurasian region, and to study and teach the region’s core concerns. True to the mission set by the university’s founders 150 years ago, Sciences Po remains committed to working at the heart of society to alleviate social issues, accept contradictory views and defend the pluralism of ideas.

Mobilisation of the research centres to inform public understanding of the events

From the first weeks of the conflict, the academic community at Sciences Po has shared its insights into the situation in Ukraine through a continual flow of lectures, media appearances and interviews . Its researchers aim to provide the tools for analysing and interpreting the war academically, so that everyone can understand the major issues at stake in the region.

These explanatory efforts are grounded in the core values of Sciences Po. At a time when multilateralism is being flouted and the principle of peaceful co-existence between states is under threat, it is the very values that the institution promotes and defends that are at stake in Ukraine, as in any invasion or annexation. 

Find here the list of researchers and doctoral students working on armed conflicts. 

Among the most active research centres in this regard, the CERI (Sciences Po’s Centre for International Studies) takes a firmly interdisciplinary approach to the study of international relations.  

Bringing together political scientists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists, geographers and economists, the centre strives to provide a distinct and holistic reading of the major events and phenomena driving international relations. In addition to analysing diplomacy generally, its researchers study major geographical and cultural regions. They are unique in their commitment to fieldwork and in their fluency in the languages of every country and region of the world, which gives them access to primary sources and enables them to conduct surveys with local populations . 

Four of the CERI’s researchers, all specialists in Ukraine and Russia, have been particularly active in analysing international relations in the region, and in coordinating various research activities:

  • Anne de Tinguy , a professor of political science and history specialising in Russian and Ukrainian international relations.
  • Marie Mendras , a CNRS research fellow specialising in political and social movements and electoral processes in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus; Russian foreign policy and Moscow’s relations with the West.
  • Gilles Favarel-Garrigues , a CNRS research director specialising in issues of deviance, violence, policing and justice, with research based on surveys predominantly conducted in Russia.
  • Kathy Rousselet , a research professor specialising in the study of religion and the Orthodox Church in the Soviet period and the post-Soviet region.

Together with other renowned academics at the CERI, including Bertrand Badie, Jacques Rupnik and Christian Lequesne, these four researchers have published widely in the mainstream media and made numerous media appearances in addition to their academic work.

In total, there are 20 researchers and five PhD candidates at the CERI working directly or tangentially on the subject of the War in Ukraine.

Since the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, 2022, two books on the subject have been published by CERI researchers: La Sainte Russie contre l'Occident (Holy Russia versus the West) by Kathy Rousselet and Le Géant empêtré. La Russie et le monde de la fin de la Guerre Froide à l’invasion de l’Ukraine (The Entangled Giant: Russia and the World from the End of the USSR to the Invasion of Ukraine) by Anne de Tinguy. Two further books have been, or will be, released in 2023: Poutine, l’Ukraine et les statues de Lénine (Putin, Ukraine and the Statues of Lenin), by Emeritus Professor Dominique Colas, a specialist in political thought, and a work by Gilles Favarel-Garrigues to be published by La Découverte. The 2022 edition of the CERI’s annual publication Looking into Eurasia , which is available online (in French) was dedicated entirely to exploring the ramifications of the war.

Research topics for work conducted in 2022, or planned for 2023, include conflict, migration, security and defence, nuclear weapons, and issues surrounding energy, resources and the environment.

Alongside them, the OFCE, the Economics Department and the Centre for History have also been very active. For example, work has been carried out or coordinated by Sabine Dullin, professor of contemporary Russian and Soviet history at Sciences Po, by Sylvain Kahn, associate professor of history specialising in European issues and world space, and by Sergei Guriev who is, among others, the author of the book Spin Dictators: the changing face of Tyranny in the 21st century, which was published in the spring of 2022. 

The challenges of conducting research in multiple countries is a subject the CERI’s researchers will address during a series of seminars scheduled for the first semester of 2023 . Together, they will discuss “in real time” the different stages of leading a research project through to publication: methods of accessing and gathering sources; discoveries and refutations; changes of direction and reconceptualisations of an initial project in light of findings from the field; issues of translation; approaches to processing data produced, etc. A previous symposium on this topic, organised by the CERI, took place in 2021.

Many and varied resources to enrich understanding and analysis of the conflict

Since February 2022, the academic community at Sciences Po has organised a series of lectures designed to provide insights into the events taking place in Eastern Europe and their potential impact on world affairs. In total, around 15 lectures have been given at Sciences Po on the subject of Ukraine.

Three conferences were organised to mark one year since the start of the conflict:

  • 14/02: “The shock of the war in Ukraine: Eurasia one year on from February 24th”: launch of the CERI’s annual Eurasia study, this year devoted to Ukrainian issues (edited by Anne de Tinguy). This lecture was organised to coincide with the publication of Looking into Eurasia: The Year 2022 in Politics, edited by Anne Tinguy as part of the CERI Studies series (n°266-267).
  • 21/02: seminar of the “Post-Soviet Worlds” research group at the CERI, with speakers Gilles Favarel-Garrigues and Dominique Colas. Colas will introduce his new book Poutine, l'Ukraine et les statues de Lénine (Putin, Ukraine and the Statues of Lenin) (published by the Sciences Po Press in January 2023).
  • 23/02: "Churches in the War in Ukraine": a lecture and debate organised by the Chair for Study of Religion, with speaker Kathy Rousselet who will discuss her book La Sainte Russie contre l'Occident (Holy Russia versus the West).

Sciences Po's research centres regularly publish the results of their research, and the agendas and conclusions of research conferences and seminars. As part of its commitment to disseminating research, Sciences Po makes these resources available to the general public.

The CERI, for example, compiles all resources produced by the research centre in a continuously updated webpage of the CERI website. This lists articles, podcasts, interviews, media appearances, events and reports produced by CERI researchers and PhD candidates on the subject of the war in Ukraine. The page also includes any books published on the subject or related topics.

A CERI Dossier dedicated to Ukraine, also available online, brings together 18 original articles exploring different aspects of the conflict.

The Centre for History also regularly publishes articles analysing the conflict. E.g.: “La guerre en Ukraine rappelle à quel point l’identité nationale reste structurante” (Fr) : a conversation with Sabine Dullin, The Conversation, December 2022 or “L'Europe à l'épreuve de la guerre” (Fr) , by Sylvain Kahn, Terra Nova, 24 March, 2022.

The following articles have been published by the Department of Economics and the OFCE in English:

Sciences Po researchers have produced a prolific number of publications shedding light on the Ukrainian conflict, both prior to and since the 2022 invasion.

For example, at the CERI, in English: Humiliation in International Relations: A Pathology of Contemporary International Systems, Bertrand Badie, Bloomsbury.

Other articles can, of course, be found on Sciences Po’s institutional website.