UCA Hosts Conway Conversations: Crisis in Ukraine

The University of Central Arkansas will host an online discussion about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as part of the Conway Conversations series.

Scheduled for Thursday, June 9, the event will feature a five-person panel discussing different aspects of the conflict. The dialogue will begin at 6 p.m. and will take place via Zoom.

Malcolm Elliot Glover will serve as the moderator for the discussion. Glover, who is an educator, crisis manager and journalist, earned a Ph.D. in leadership studies from UCA..

“We must always remember that we live in an interdependent world. What happens in Ukraine affects Americans and our allies in Europe,” Glover said. “This continuing conflict deepens human suffering, creates a refugee crisis, causes fluctuations in global energy prices and increases the likelihood of an environmental catastrophe if missiles strike chemical plants, petroleum refineries, or nuclear installations in that war-torn country.”

The panelists include:

  • Alan Elrod, president and CEO of The Pulaski Institution.
  • Kateryna Pitchford, a Ukraine native who is currently an associate professor of business at Central Baptist College.
  • Mark Elrod, a lecturer in UCA’s Department of Political Science.
  • Shuan Casey, the T. J. Dermot Dunphy Senior Fellow of Religion, Violence and Peacebuilding at Harvard Divinity School

The June 9 conversation will cover the history between Russia and Ukraine, what led to the conflict and how Americans can support those most affected. Participants will be able to choose an interactive breakout session to attend to ask questions and share perspectives on the following topics: 

  • Voices and Lived Experiences of Ukraine
  • Demystifying Russian Nationalism
  • The Big Picture: A Background on NATO Expansion in Russia
  • The Importance of Religion and the War in Ukraine

Mark Elrod teaches courses in American Foreign Policy, International Conflict and International Organization in the UCA College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. His military experience in the Navy gave him an appreciation for international politics, especially issues related to international conflict. 

I hope participants come away appreciating how important NATO has been in creating a stable international system, particularly in Europe and how much Russia’s war has threatened that stability,” Elrod said. 

Conway Conversations is an initiative that began following the 2016 election season, when divisive political rhetoric seemed to be heightened. Lesley Graybeal, director of service-learning and volunteerism in UCA’s Division of Outreach and Community Engagement, leads the effort along with a planning team which includes Candice Maxwell, a professor in the College of Education; Riva Brown, an associate professor in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Wendy Holbrook, an assistant vice president in the Division of Student Services; and Stephen Shook, director in the Center for Leadership Development.

“We like the term ‘dialog across differences’ because we like the framing of having a conversation with people who have different viewpoints from our own,” Graybeal said. “We have had many different events over the past several years that included generational diversity, racial diversity and training events.” 

“We must always be willing to talk about our concerns and work together to resolve our differences,” Glover said. “Offering support to diverse groups of people who are experiencing difficulties is an honor and a privilege. I believe we must have the courage to be compassionate and we must find ways to help each other overcome life’s challenges.”  

Click here for more information or to register to attend the virtual event.