Why Should I Care About the War in Ukraine?

April 4, 2022
Over 60 students, community members, faculty, and staff listen as Zeke Baker recounts his time in Uk

Over 60 students, community members, faculty, and staff listen as Zeke Baker recounts his time in Ukraine

Addison Smith

On March 10th, Dr. Stephen Bittner and Dr. Zeke Baker held a lecture entitled “Why Should I Care About the War in Ukraine?” which was hosted by the Center for Community Engagement. Overall, the lecture was super informative and interesting. I enjoyed learning about their prior knowledge due to living in both Russia and Ukraine which I think added a new depth to what they were talking about. Hearing them recount their stories increased the level of importance and helped viewers understand more about what is currently happening in Ukraine. The stories for me were the most interesting part of the lecture because they allowed me to gain a first-hand perspective and better understanding of the lead-up to what is now the war in Ukraine. 

Dr. Bittner is an historian who has done extensive research over the years in Kyiv, Odessa, and Simferopol. He chose to speak on the politics of language and identity in Ukraine. With the politics of language he felt that the rhetoric being used wasn’t helpful in the situations they were being put into so he went to Crimea to learn more. When he was in Crimea he learned more about Ukraine and how it was the “principal loser” of World War I both economically and politically, which led to further tensions between the two nationalistic nations. This was extremely interesting to me because it allowed me to understand and see the two fighting nations from a different point of view. It made me see it from the views of citizens and their nationalistic ideas through language and not as a simple back and forth between two competing nations, one for complete dominance and the other for independence. 

Dr. Baker is a political and historical sociologist who chose to share his own lived experiences in post-Soviet Kyiv. He utilized his experiences to talk about the politics and revolutions that led up to what is currently going on in Ukraine. Listening to Dr. Baker discuss the revolutions added much needed context for me to see the foundations of what was already tensions brewing right underneath the surface for so many years. Revolutions such as the Orange Revolution were so profound in its effects on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia today. Learning about a few of the Revolutions, really captivated me into doing more research about Eastern European Revolutions and politics. 

With a short Q&A to finish up the lecture, both professors offered their emails, bakerz@sonoma.edu and steve.bittner@sonoma.edu to encourage students to reach out to them if they have any more questions regarding the ongoing war in Ukraine. Watch or listen to the recording yourself.