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She explores the history of environmental policy in Ukraine for her honors thesis

Roxanna Kobziar ’08 (Pelham, N.Y.) is an international affairs and Russian and East European Studies (REES) double major. Under the guidance of Joshua Sanborn, assistant professor of history and chair of REES, she is performing honors research on the history of environmental policy in the Ukraine.

For my thesis, I am exploring the idea of “eco-nationalism” which is a convergence of nationalism and environmentalism within a country. This is a topic thoroughly explained in publications by author Jane Dawson, associate professor of government at Connecticut College. I am primarily focusing on Ukraine, particularly the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and the effect it had on leading Ukraine to independence in 1991.

I decided to focus on Ukraine because I am of Ukrainian background. My grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ukraine during World War II. Both my parents and I were born in the United States, but my family maintained the Ukrainian culture.

I am a Ukrainian-American, equally living in both worlds. I speak both Ukrainian and English with my parents. From kindergarten until 12th grade, I went to school six days a week. Monday through Friday, I went to regular school. Then on Saturday mornings, I drove into New York City and attended Ukrainian school where I was taught literature, grammar, history, and geography of Ukraine, all taught in Ukrainian. Thus, I am fluent in Ukrainian, and feel very close to my heritage.

The main topic I will address in my thesis is the relationship between anti-nuclear activism and nationalism in Ukraine. Ukraine is very different from other post-Soviet states because of its very integrated relationship with Russia. This accounts for a great deal of the problems Ukraine has had in establishing cohesive nationalist movements with similar agendas.

The hypothesis of my thesis is that Chernobyl had a specific influence on the Ukrainian national movement, bringing in several environmental problems that needed to be addressed immediately. This brought environmental and nationalist groups together on one single issue, which gave the movements a great deal of strength. Chernobyl served as the breaking point for the Ukrainian people and motivated them to fight harder against the Soviet government.

I am doing this thesis through the Russian and East European studies (REES) program, as I am a double major in international affairs as well as REES. Professor Sanborn is the head of the REES program as well as my thesis advisor. Working with Professor Sanborn has been a pleasure. He is very accommodating and helpful. At the beginning of the semester, we set up a timetable outlining my goals for this term. We regularly meet once each week to go over what I have accomplished during that week.

I put all the sources for my research into an annotated bibliography to help outline them. The culmination of my work will be presented in a literature review, as well as a presentation to the history department and to other thesis advisees in that department. Next semester the actual drafting of my thesis will begin.

Kobziar is president of the College’s Ski and Snowboard Race Team and Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority. She is currently the secretary for Sigma Iota Rho National Honors Society and serves as a tour guide and liaison for the Admissions Office. In 2006, she served as Panhellenic Delegate for Kappa Kappa Gamma and performed an externship at a law firm. She has spent numerous summers as head councilor for Ukrainian Scouting Sleep Away Camp in East Chatham, N.Y., and also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Easton through the Landis Community Outreach Center.

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