Olena Lennon is an adjunct professor of Political Science, teaching such courses as the U.S. Foreign & Defense Policy, International Relations, Conflict Resolution, and American Government. She also works as a professional Writing Tutor at the Center for Learning Resources and teaches Social Statistics at Southern Connecticut State University.
I first started teaching in Ukraine and after three years of teaching, I received a Fulbright scholarship to study Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I earned a second Master’s in Educational Administration and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, with minors in Political Science (International Relations) and Statistics. On completion of my Ph.D. in 2011, I moved back to Ukraine for two years to fulfill my Fulbright obligations.
I returned to the U.S. in September 2013, shortly before the onset of the war in eastern Ukraine. With my family remaining in the active war zone, I have kept my finger on the pulse through direct communication with people on the ground and local media outlets. Since then, I have participated in several panels related to issues in Ukraine, facilitating a more informed and objective analysis of this conflict.
I am a strong believer in data-driven decision making. My current research interests include reconciliation, conflict resolution, national identity building, and civic education. I have recently participated in Carnegie Corporation’s research project, alongside distinguished scholars from Yale University, Columbia University, City College of New York, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars to design policy recommendations for a possible resolution of the current conflict in Ukraine. I contributed to the project by analyzing the correlation between higher education and national security in Ukraine. My work also appeared in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Journal of Political Risk, Yale Global, Higher Education in Europe, and others.
My approach to teaching is being a student. I learn from my students and my teaching philosophy is constantly evolving. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on ways I can improve my students’ learning. My teaching is an organic process and it changes with time. But there are three fundamental principles that are timeless. First, I believe that students learn better when they have a sense of ownership of their learning. Second, learning is most effective when it is experiential. I believe every time students walk out of the classroom, they must understand how material learned in class is applied in their daily lives. My third, and final, fundamental principle of teaching is mixing up teaching formats and techniques to appeal to a broad range of learning strategies and abilities. But what’s even more timeless for me than those three principles is three loves, famously described by Scott Hayden: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.