The University of Wisconsin-Madison is set to debut a course in the spring covering the Russia-Ukraine war.
Professor Yoshiko Herrera, a political scientist and recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, will teach the three-credit course, Political Science 344, next semester.
Herrera told The Daily Cardinal she plans to combine interactive and discussion-oriented lectures to improve student understanding of the conflict in Ukraine.
“The class has student discussion-oriented lectures, where I explain some concepts and we discuss and debate different things during the ‘lecture’ classes,” Herrera said. “Even though it’s a ‘lecture’ class, it’s not a passive environment.”
Russia and Ukraine already had a contentious relationship following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The situation came to a head after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, resulting in approximately 200,000 Ukrainian and Russian military deaths, 10,000 civilian deaths, and 5.8 million displaced.
The course will explore various topics in comparative politics and international relations by focusing on the war’s causes, democracy and dictatorship in Russia and Ukraine, international and European security, national identity and migration, sanctions and trade, political violence and war crimes.
“I wanted to meet student demand for information about the war,” Herrera said. “Rather than just a current events discussion, I wanted to show people how political science theories and prior work can inform discussion of what is happening in Ukraine.”
Herrera hopes to update and “de-center” Russia in the course offerings at UW-Madison through the Russian War on Ukraine.
“Instead of just focusing on Russia or the USSR because that is what we taught in the past, I wanted to reconsider politics in Ukraine from Ukrainian perspectives,” she said. “I tried to include work on both countries every week.”
The course will also include the opportunity for students to conduct original research on a topic of interest, which will be used to produce a research paper for the class.
UW-Madison’s Political Science Department has been encouraging students to enroll for the spring semester since announcing the class on Oct. 18.
“I think students who are interested in either comparative politics or international relations should take the course if they want to understand some of those topics and also learn a lot about a current international conflict,” she said.
The course will run from 1:20 p.m. until 2:10 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday.