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Editor’s Note, May-June 2022

Looking east
Academia reacts to war in Europe

The images that have been streaming out of Ukraine since February are hard to fathom. And as Russia’s invasion grinds on, it is having an impact far beyond the region.

Universities are among the types of institutions that have had to respond. Many in Canada announced varying degrees of financial assistance for affected students. Researchers are taking steps, too. One example is the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta, which is offering secure cloud storage to academics in Ukraine amid fears that archives and museums may be destroyed.

In late March, 100 Canadian scholars who study Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia issued a statement of concern about the war and sent it to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. They argued the causes of the invasion have to do with internal factors in Russia, not any perceived threat in the Kremlin about NATO expansion. They also laid out what they see as the stakes for our own country. If Russian President Vladimir Putin is successful, it would “constitute a major defeat for democracy around the world and for the liberal international order for which Canada has strived since World War II,”
they wrote.

Whatever happens next in the conflict, it’s difficult to imagine relations between Russia and the West recovering anytime soon.
The consequences for the academic world are becoming apparent. Universities in several countries have severed research partnerships, study abroad programs and financial ties with Russia. Scholarly conferences have also been affected. The International Congress of Mathematicians, for instance, was set to take place in Saint Petersburg this summer but will now be held virtually. We will be exploring what all of this means for the Canadian postsecondary sector through our online coverage in the coming weeks and months. I invite you to
follow along by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

In the meantime, this issue includes in-depth examinations of how the pandemic has transformed scientific publishing, how the new space race is spurring new research collaborations, and how scientific scholarship has evolved in francophone Canada over the last century.

Ian Munroe