2022. September 26., Monday

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From a small Ukrainian village to the Prezilimpia finals

Pavlo Burdiak is a second-year Ukrainian PhD student at the University of Szeged Faculty of Law and Political Sciences. He participated in the SZTE-PREZILIMPIA presentation competition and took 2nd place in the national final. The theme of this year`s competition was “Schools with long history, 21st century education”, and Mr. Burdiak delivered a presentation titled “Online education: an opportunity or a challenge?”

- It was surprising to see how mature a performer you were in the competition. Have you participated in this kind of competition before?

Yes! I participated in similar competitions on two occasions before Prezilimpia 2022.

In April 2019, during my MA studies at the Budapest Business School (BBS), I took part in the presentation competition “Economic challenges – innovative reactions” that was organized by the BBS. It was not a particularly successful attempt, but I learned a lot from that experience.

In September 2021, during my Ph.D. studies at the University of Szeged, I won 3rd place in the UKRAINET PhD Thesis Presentation Contest organized in Berlin, Germany, by the Freie Universität Berlin, the German-Ukrainian Academic Society, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). During the contest, I had 5 minutes to present my Ph.D. research in a clear and comprehensible manner, so that the general audience could understand it. The title of my presentation was “Interaction of states and social media platforms in preserving the freedom of expression on social media”. You can find more details about the contest here: https://ukrainet.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/PR_16Sept2021_final.pdf


- Why did you choose Szeged Law School for your Phd studies?

The University of Szeged was (and still is) listed very high in various international rankings of educational establishments, which drew my attention to this university.

I explored the Ph.D. program at the Szeged Law School and found it to be coherent and well-balanced. Except for the substantive obligatory courses which extensively cover research methodology, there are many elective courses in public international law, which are directly related to my research.

Furthermore, before applying to this doctoral school, I looked up the educators who were working/teaching specifically in the field of public international law at the University of Szeged Doctoral School of Law and Political Sciences. I reached out to Dr. Szalai Anikó, and she responded to me very fast and endorsed my research proposal. Her genuine interest in my research topic indicated to me that we could have a mutually advantageous academic collaboration.

On top of that, I discovered that the Szeged Law School is engaged in various international projects, which was another important factor for me. For instance, with the support of the Szeged Law School, I could participate in the “Academy of European Public Law” organized by the European Public Law Organization in August-September 2021.

Last but not least, I talked to some of my friends who came to study in Szeged before me, and I received positive feedback about everyday life and university life in Szeged.

 

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Photo: Lilla Borbola


- Can you tell us a little about yourself? You mentioned in your presentation that you come from a small Ukrainian town. This is of interest to everyone today. I might add, unfortunately.

Yes, the town I grew up in is called Kolomyia. Having grown up in this small Ukrainian town, I have always had a motivation to challenge myself and explore something new.

At the age of 17, I moved to Chernivtsi (it is a big university city in western Ukraine), where I started studying BA in International Relations at Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University (Chernivtsi, Ukraine). Over the course of my BA studies, I participated in various international exchange projects and conferences in Ukraine, Germany, Poland, and Lithuania. I also spent two semesters abroad as an ERASMUS+ exchange student. More specifically, during the period of September 2016 – February 2017, I was enrolled in the “Legal studies” program at the University of Graz (Graz, Austria). Furthermore, from February 2018 to June 2018, I was studying the “Political Science and History” program at the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences (Athens, Greece).

While doing ERASMUS+ exchanges in Austria and Greece, I decided to undertake a number of courses in the field of international law and human rights. The “International law and the Internet” course, which was taught by Dr. Kettemann at the University of Graz (Graz, Austria), made me interested in the issues related to the international dimension of Internet regulation and its ramifications for human rights online. Since then, this field became a key research area of mine.

After finishing my BA studies at Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University (Chernivtsi, Ukraine), in September 2018 I went on to do an MA in International Relations at Budapest Business School. The title of my MA thesis was “International law perspective on Internet censorship: a case study of Russia`s hybrid war against Ukraine”.

I obtained an MA degree from Budapest Business School in June 2020. A couple of months later, in September 2020, I started Ph.D. studies at the University of Szeged Law School. My ongoing Ph.D. research is titled “Interaction of states and social media platforms in preserving the freedom of expression on social media”.


- How do you assess the current situation in your country?

Ukraine is under attack. Human rights are under attack. International law is under attack.

At the same time, with support from the international community, Ukraine managed to put up a considerable resistance to the military aggression of the Russian Federation.

In terms of the support of Ukraine at the international level, I believe that more aid should be provided to Ukraine. Furthermore, sanctions against Russia must be stepped up. If a country does not play by the rules, by international law rules, then sanctions must be actively used as an instrument for keeping the aggressor-state in check.


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Photo: Eva Bundsag


- What are your plans for the future?

In the medium term, I intend to obtain a Ph.D. degree at the University of Szeged and get a postdoc position that would allow me to prepare myself for an academic and research career.

In the medium to long term, I am planning to apply for an academic position at a university. Besides, I would like to combine the profession of a university teacher with the position of a research fellow at a think tank (or research institute) that deals with the preservation of human rights on the Internet.

In the long term, I would like to get actively involved in the human rights activities of some international intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations.

 

The interview was conducted by Attila Badó, university professor