Global Classroom - Drama/Poetry in Ukraine at War

Author: Paul Lingle

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By Paul Lingle, Dan Skendzel and Lenette Votava

Lviv, Ukraine, home of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), is over 4,500 miles from South Bend, Indiana. But that doesn’t stop Notre Dame and Ukrainian Catholic students from meeting face-to-face every week to discuss the impact of war on Ukraine, its people and its culture as part of a cross-listed English and Film, Television and Theatre class.

The “Drama/Poetry in Ukraine at War" course is taught by professors Peter Holland (McMeel Professor of Shakespeare Studies, Film, Television, and Theatre) and Romana Huk (Associate Professor, English) in the Rex and Alice A. Martin Media Center’s Global Classroom. This room is equipped with technology that enables faculty to teach to fully remote students. But in this case, the Notre Dame students may also attend in person , making it a fully interactive experience between students in the United States and Ukraine.

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Where did the idea of a course with Ukrainian students come from?

The concept for this unique course originated when Taras Dobko, doctor of philosophy and newly elected UCU rector reached out to professor Huk last year while visiting on campus at the Nanovic Institute. 

He wanted to see if she would be interested in running this new course with Oleksandr Pronkovich, a UCU professor with the hopes to team-teach with a University of Notre Dame professor.

Both professors Holland and Huk accepted the challenge and stepped up to team-teach this new course. Additionally, professor Pronkovich and Bohdana Yakobchuk, a talented UCU undergraduate who had taken a course with professor Huk in 2022, became part of this unprecedented drama and poetry studies course.

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What is the goal for this course?

The intention of this course is for students to experience poetry and drama written in Ukraine since the 2014 Russian invasion. The work is new to both UCU and ND students, and the strategies it takes up are mind-bending, creating a whole new way of understanding "war literature," its difficulties and goals. The goal is also to bring two "student bodies" together into a single high-tech classroom to help one another understand from a different perspective.

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How is the Global Classroom making it possible?

The Global Classroom has proven highly successful in allowing for the creation of a single community for this course, not a gallery of separate heads on a screen. Professors and students can share work on multiple large screens and also see each other as groups to discuss, which makes all the difference. Professors Holland and Huk hope to find innovative ways to join both UCU and ND students to make creative responses, possibly a dramatic performance piece performed by all students. The technology and support available at ND Studios and its Global Classroom will allow this production concept to be brought to life.

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Quote from professors Peter Holland/Romana Huk:

"The teaching studio is a constant revelation of how classrooms half-way across the world from each other can meet -- not via isolated participants zooming in, but via interacting communities of students on either side of the screen, and that has made all the difference. Richard Allen Jr.’s (Streaming Engineer) expertise and guidance and the student workers' fast-acting brilliance in resolving bugs as we go have made the experience what it is: remarkably smooth and natural, powerful and transformative, as we explore traumatic materials together."


Originally published by Paul Lingle at on November 06, 2023.