College of Liberal Arts

The Zelensky Phenomenon: Youth, Social Media and Democratic Dialogues in Ukraine

Wednesday Nov 20, 2019 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM | RLP 1.302 D

This summer a CREEES faculty-student team spent five weeks in Ukraine conducting a study on youth, political engagement, and social media. This was a follow up to a semester of research in spring 2019, that included Skype focus groups with small groups of students from six cities from across Ukraine and 4 rounds of surveys conducted across the country during the lead up and aftermath to the presidential elections in Ukraine. In the end, we gained insights into the profound role of social media in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections, in which a young actor and comedian, Vladimir/Volodymyr Zelensky, won by a landslide. He did this in large part by mobilizing the youth vote via social media. Zelensky proved to be a master of “informational strategy” in the 2019 elections, tapping into the desire among youth (and others) to elect someone who promised an escape from established political (and media) fray, and offered instead hope (as well as humor). A select group of students from the project will come and present our findings from the project, which was a finalist for the President’s Award for Global Learning.

The overseas portion of the project was funded by the Dedman Scholars Programs in Liberal Arts Honors, the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, and the Department of HIstory.

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