The IWM Revokes Olena Semenyaka’s Fellowship with Immediate Effect


The Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) strongly condemns and distances itself from the far-right statements and actions of Olena Semenyaka, who was due to start her Fellowship at IWM in January 2021 as part of the Ukraine in European Dialogue program funded by a private foundation.

Since its inception in 1982, the IWM has promoted intellectual exchange between Eastern and Western Europe and beyond. It has championed academic debate and critical dialogue and has stood against all forms of totalitarian thinking.

Each year the Institute awards fellowships to approximately one hundred scholars and public intellectuals, journalists and translators from all over the world, who are invited to pursue their individual research projects within one of our 13 fellowship programs. To ensure the quality of the selection process given this plurality, our programs have their own independent jury with expertise in the particular field or specific region. Each jury bases its decisions on the academic material submitted to it by the candidates and the academic qualifications of the candidates.

IWM is a non-partisan institution. Scholarship at IWM reflects a variety of intellectual traditions and political perspectives. We do not, and will not, request that applicants give us information regarding their political positions or activities, though we remain committed to our core values.

The award of a Ukraine in European Dialogue Junior Fellowship to Ms. Olena Semenyaka was at odds with these core values. Her involvement with far-right groups aimed at spreading hatred, encouraging violence, and dividing our societies does not correspond to the mission of the Fellowship Program or the Institute.

Thanks to the thoughtful intervention of the Ukrainian research community, activists, journalists and alumni, who have brought these facts about Ms. Semenyaka’s actions to our attention, we have immediately revoked Ms. Semenyaka’s fellowship.

We are currently conducting a review of our decentralized process for the award of fellowships to better understand how Ms. Semenyaka’s political activities escaped the attention of the concerned jury. We regret the fact that the partial information available to the jury led to a fellowship award that the jury itself, in the light of the now available information, has decided to revoke. We are strengthening mechanisms to avoid any such outcome in the future.