National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Image - The main building of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Kyiv).

National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine [Національна академія наук України; Natsionalna akademiia nauk Ukrainy or НАНУ; NANU; known in 1918–21 as Українська академія наук; Ukrainska akademiia nauk or УАН; UAN, ie Ukrainian Academy of Sciences; in 1921–36 as Всеукраїнська академія наук; Vseukrainska akademiia nauk or ВУАН; VUAN, ie All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences; in 1936–91 as Академія наук УРСР; Akademiia nauk URSR, ie Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR; in 1991–4 as Академія наук України; Akademiia nauk Ukrainy, ie Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and since then by its present name). The highest institution of learning in Ukraine.

The idea of a national Ukrainian academy of sciences was first broached by the Ukrainian Scientific Society (UNT) in Kyiv following the February Revolution of 1917. The project, however, was realized only in 1918 in much changed circumstances under the Hetman government in the Ukrainian State. On the recommendation of Mykola Vasylenko, the minister of education and art, a special commission was set up, which, from 9 August to 17 September 1918, drafted the legislation establishing the Ukrainian academy. It was enacted into law by Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky on 14 November 1918. According to its statute the academy was to be located in Kyiv and divided into three divisions: historical-philological, physical-mathematical, and social-economic. Its publications were to be in Ukrainian. The statute emphasized the all-Ukrainian character of the academy: not only citizens of the Ukrainian State but also Ukrainians of Western Ukraine, then a part of Austria-Hungary, could be full members. Admission of foreign candidates required approval by two-thirds of the academy’s full members. The first academicians were appointed on 14 November 1918, the day the academy was inaugurated: Dmytro Bahalii, Ahatanhel Krymsky, Mykola Petrov, Stepan Smal-Stotsky, Volodymyr Vernadsky, Mykola Kashchenko, Stepan Tymoshenko, Mykhailo Tuhan-Baranovsky, Orest Levytsky, Volodymyr Kosynsky, Fedir Taranovsky, and Pavlo Tutkovsky. Vernadsky was elected president, and Krymsky permanent secretary.

The creation of a national academy of sciences in Ukraine might well be understood as an attempt by the Hetman government to put into place one of the obvious attributes of statehood. Certainly, the existence of the UAN marked a clear break from the long-standing situation in which the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences was the pre-eminent institution of learning in what had once been Russian-ruled Ukraine. Moreover, the very existence of the Lviv-based Shevchenko Scientific Society (NTSh), which consciously saw itself as ‘the progenitor of a future [Ukrainian] academy of sciences’ and the Kyiv-based Ukrainian Scientific Society provided a definite impetus for the establishment of a national Ukrainian academy of sciences. In fact, the campaign to set up the UAN was spearheaded by UNT members (notably Volodymyr Peretts, who developed a draft constitution for it). Nevertheless, political differences with the Hetman government and concerns about the proposed academy structure precluded the support of many UNT members for the new body.

The Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic recognized and supported the UAN after its assumption of power in Ukraine in mid-December 1918. At the same time it introduced a modest number of changes to its constitution, largely in response to UNT concerns. The UAN’s relationship with the Directory, however, was short-lived.

The academy, 1919–23. In January 1919 the members of UAN made a conscious decision not to abandon Kyiv in the face of advancing Bolshevik forces. After the Bolsheviks captured Kyiv on 11 February 1919, they recognized the UAN as highest official state body of learning in Ukraine and promised to support it financially. Nevertheless, in the chaotic conditions of the time, this support was meager and inconsistent. Not surprisingly, the Bolsheviks chose to ignore the previous, albeit limited, activity of the UAN and portray themselves as the academy’s founders and 1919 as its date of origin (in contrast the later USSR Academy of Sciences was cited as the direct descendent of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and its date of origin given as 1724). The occupation of Kyiv by the Volunteer Army of Anton Denikin caused the fledgling academy considerable difficulties as the Whites considered the academy a suspect body and declined to fund it. The academy survived financially only as a result of a public subscription undertaken by Ukrainian cultural-educational groups.

After the Bolsheviks ousted Anton Denikin’s forces and returned to Kyiv, Volodymyr Vernadsky retired in December 1919, and the historian Orest Levytsky became the academy’s president (1919–21). During this period the associates of the academy lived under difficult economic conditions and experienced their first political persecutions. In 1921 the government refused to recognize the newly elected president of the academy, Mykola Vasylenko, and in 1923 arrested him along with other associates of the academy. In 1924 they were condemned at the trial of the Kyiv oblast ‘Action Center’ (Tsentr dii) but were later granted amnesty.

By decree of the Council of the People's Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR on 14 June 1921, the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences was renamed the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Its importance for Ukrainians in Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia was thus emphasized. That year the Kyiv Archeographic Commission and the Ukrainian Scientific Society in Kyiv were incorporated into the academy. From 1920 to the early 1930s the Historical Society of Nestor the Chronicler, with Mykola Vasylenko as president and Serhii Maslov as secretary, functioned independently under the first division of the academy. Also, since 1919 the National Library of Ukraine was also affiliated with the academy. In 1922 the printing facilities of the Kyivan Cave Monastery were transferred to the academy, and this led to an improvement in the academy’s publications. The botanist Volodymyr Lypsky assumed the office of president in 1922. With the introduction of the New Economic Policy the academy’s budget in hard currency was cut, and the number of its associates was reduced to 149 in 1922 and 118 in 1923. The academy had a considerable number of unofficial unpaid associates, however (over 1,000 in 1921).

Development from 1924 to 1928. With the beginning of Ukrainization and the return of Mykhailo Hrushevsky from abroad in 1924, the academy expanded its work. Having been elected to full membership, Hrushevsky held the academy’s chair of modern Ukrainian history and presided over the historical-philological division, with its numerous commissions, and the archeographic commission. Personnel at the academy increased to 160 in 1924. The number of publications increased during the period: the academy published 32 titles in 1923, 35 in 1924, 52 in 1925, 75 in 1926, 88 in 1927, 90 in 1928, 136 in 1929, and 116 in 1930. In 1930 the academy began to decline noticeably in connection with the trial of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine.

Historical-philological division. During the 1920s the historical-philological division played the leading role in the academy. In 1927–8 it had the following chairs: historical-philological (held by Ahatanhel Krymsky), history of the Ukrainian language (Yevhen Tymchenko), Ukrainian oral literature (Andrii Loboda), history of modern Ukrainian literature (Serhii Yefremov, also Vice-president of the academy in 1923–9), Old Ukrainian literature (Volodymyr Peretts), Old Ukrainian history (Dmytro Bahalii), modern Ukrainian history (Mykhailo Hrushevsky), historical geography (Oleksander Hrushevsky), Byzantology (Fedir I. Myshchenko), and history of Ukrainian art (Oleksii Novytsky). The historical-philological division also had 39 other commissions, institutes, committees, and museums under it in 1928, as well as the following learned societies: the Historical Society of Nestor the Chronicler, the Historical-Literary Society, headed by Serhii Yefremov, and the Leningrad Society of Researchers of Ukrainian History, Literature, and Language, headed by Volodymyr Peretts. The division published several serials: Zapysky Istorychno-filolohichnoho viddilu VUAN, edited at different times by Pavlo Zaitsev, Dmytro Bahalii, Mykhailo Hrushevsky, and Ahatanhel Krymsky in 1919–31 (26 vols); the scholarly journal Ukraïna (1914–30), edited by Mykhailo Hrushevsky in 1924–30; Zbirnyk Istorychno-filolohichnoho viddilu VUAN, an irregular serial of research and documents from various fields of Ukrainian studies (in 1921–31 104 issues and 115 volumes were published); Naukovyi zbirnyk Istorychnoï sektsiï VUAN, which was a continuation of Zapysky Ukraïns’koho naukovoho tovarystva v Kyievi and was edited by Mykhailo Hrushevsky in 1924–9 (vols 19–32); the annual Pervisne hromadianstvo ta ioho perezhytsky v Ukraïni, edited by Kateryna Hrushevska in 1926–30 (8 vols); Etnohrafichnyi visnyk, edited by Andrii Loboda and Viktor Petrov in 1925–32 (10 vols); the collection Za sto lit, edited by Mykhailo Hrushevsky in 1927–30 (6 issues). From 1923 to 1931 a total of 111 numbered collections appeared.

Owing to the efforts of the historical-philological division, a number of first-rate historical works were published: Dmytro Bahalii’s Narys istoriï Ukraïny na sotsial’no- ekonomichnomu grunti (An Outline of the Socioeconomic History of Ukraine), I (1928), Narys ukraïns’koï istoriohrafiï (An Outline of Ukrainian Historiography), I–II (1923–5), and Ukraïns’kyi mandrovanyi filosof Hryhorii Savych Skovoroda (The Ukrainian Wandering Philosopher Hryhorii Savych Skovoroda, 1926); Kateryna Hrushevska;s Z prymityvnoï kul’tury (On Primitive Culture, 1924) and Ukraïns’ki narodni dumy (Ukrainian Folk Dumas, 1927); Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s subsequent volumes of Istoriia Ukraïny-Rusy (The History of Ukraine-Rus’, 1898–1936) and Istoriia ukraïns’koï literatury (A History of Ukrainian Literature, 1923–7); Serhii Yefremov’s monographs on Ukrainian literature in the 19th century and the academic editions of Taras Shevchenko’s diary and correspondence, edited by Yefremov (1927–8); Ahatanhel Krymsky’s Istoriia Persiï ta ïï pys’menstva (A History of Persia and Its Literature, 1923), Istoriia Turechchyny (A History of Turkey), I–II (1924–7), Pers’kyi teatr ... (The Persian Theater ... , 1925), etc, often in collaboration with other authors; and jubilee collections, particularly in honor of Dmytro Bahalii (1927) and Mykhailo Hrushevsky (1928–9). The division also republished Borys Hrinchenko’s Slovnyk ukraïns’koï movy (Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language, 1927–8), began the publication of Rosiis’ko-ukraïns’kyi slovnyk (A Russian-Ukrainian Dictionary), edited by Ahatanhel Krymsky, in 1927–8, which was completed to the letter ‘p,’ and published 22 specialized dictionaries.

Physical-mathematical division. The division had the following chairs: geology (Pavlo Tutkovsky), applied mathematics (Dmytro Grave), applied physics (Borys Sreznevsky), mathematical physics (Mykola Krylov), pure mathematics (Heorhii Pfeiffer), biology of agricultural plants (Yevhen Votchal), botany (Volodymyr Lypsky), experimental zoology (Ivan Shmalhauzen), chemistry (Vladimir Plotnikov), chemical technology (Vladimir Shaposhnikov), public health (Ovksentii Korchak-Chepurkivsky), and clinical medicine (Feofil Yanovsky). Nineteen scientific institutions belonged to this division, among them the Geological Society (headed by Pavlo Tutkovsky), the Botanical Society (Oleksander Fomin), the Institute of Technical Mechanics (Kostiantyn Siminsky), the Acclimatization Garden (Mykola Kashchenko), and the Microbiological Institute (Fedir Omelchenko). The division published Zapysky Fizychno-matematychnoho viddilu VUAN in 1923–9 (4 vols), Zoolohichnyi zhurnal, Ukraïns’kyi botanichnyi zhurnal, and Ukraïns’ki heolohichni visti.

Social-economic division. The division was organized into the following chairs: history of western-Ruthenian and Ukrainian law (Mykola Vasylenko), statistics (Mykhailo Ptukha), commercial trade and industrial economics (Kostiantyn Vobly), history of the philosophy of law (Aleksei Giliarov), Ukrainian customary law (Yoanykii Malynovsky), finance (Leonid Yasnopolsky), international law (Vladimir Grabar), civil law (Stanyslav Dnistriansky), economic history (V. Levytsky), and political economy (S. Solntsev). Among the institutions that came under this division were the Demographic Institute (Mykhailo Ptukha), the Society of Economists (Kostiantyn Vobly), and the Association of Ukrainian Lawyers (Yoanykii Malynovsky). The division set up a number of commissions: for example, the Commission for the Study of the History of Western-Ruthenian and Ukrainian Law (Mykola Vasylenko), which investigated the Ruskaia Pravda, the Lithuanian Statute, the legal and political system of the Hetman state and the Zaporizhia, and the Little Russian Collegium and published its Pratsi; and the commission for the Study of the Economy of Ukraine (Kostiantyn Vobly). From 1923 to 1927 Zapysky Sotsiial’no-ekonomichnoho viddilu was published (6 vols).

Various scholarly societies in Kharkiv, Odesa, Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Chernihiv, Lubny, Nizhyn, Mykolaiv, Shepetivka, and Leningrad were affiliated with VUAN. In Odesa the Commission for Regional Studies was connected with the academy, and in Vinnytsia the Cabinet for the Study of Podilia collaborated with the academy. In 1928 VUAN had 63 full members, 16 corresponding members, 111 staff researchers, and 212 non-staff researchers.

1928–39. Beginning in 1928, the authorities increased their control over the academy by interfering directly and even brutally in its organization and scholarly work. Their purpose was to transform it into a Soviet institution imbued with the official ideology of Marxism-Leninism. The onslaught was very much in line with a general campaign waged against academic throughout the Soviet Union. In the Ukrainian SSR, however, this had the additional impact of effectively reducing VUAN from a national academy of sciences to a territorial one.

The plenum of full members, called the General Assembly, was replaced as the governing body of the academy by a council, which included among its members representatives of the People's Commissariat of Education. The presidium, consisting of a president, two vice-presidents, a permanent secretary, and five academicians, was the executive body. In 1928 the microbiologist Danylo Zabolotny was elected president to appease the authorities. From 1930 to 1946 the pathophysiologist Oleksander Bohomolets was president. Ahatanhel Krymsky was replaced as permanent secretary by Ovksentii Korchak-Chepurkivsky in 1928. In the following year the authorities had three people's commissarsMykola Skrypnyk, Volodymyr Zatonsky, and Oleksander Shlikhter—elected to full membership, and a number of Party members, among them Semen Semkovsky, Matvii Yavorsky, and Volodymyr Yurynets, were accepted as candidates. Shlikhter became the head of the social-economic division. The vice-president of the academy, Serhii Yefremov, was arrested at the time and in 1930 was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (SVU) trials. A number of associates of the academy were sentenced with him: Yosyf Hermaize, Andrii Nikovsky, Vsevolod Hantsov, Hryhorii Holoskevych, and Mykhailo Slabchenko. Several dozen research associates were exiled without trial. In July 1930 the historical-philological division was abolished, and its institutions were incorporated into the social-economic division, which henceforth became known as the second (instead of the third) division. The natural science-technical division became the first. In 1931 these two divisions represented 164 scientific institutions with 242 research associates, including 79 academicians. Most of the institutions of the academy that were headed by Mykhailo Hrushevsky at the beginning of the 1930s were abolished, and the historian himself was deported to Moscow. In 1930–1 VUAN was ‘purged’ of many more of its associates, and the most important members of the academy were forced to attend meetings of ‘criticism and self-criticism.’

At the beginning of the 1930s all the academy’s serial publications in the humanities were discontinued. Most of the earlier publications were condemned and taken out of circulation because of their alleged nationalism. Many important works that were approved for publication or already in print disappeared in the first half of the 1930s.

The repressions against the academy reached a peak during Pavel Postyshev’s regime in 1933–4. In 1933 the soil scientist Oleksander Sokolovsky was imprisoned, and Mykola Skrypnyk committed suicide. In 1934 Volodymyr Peretts was exiled to Saratov and died there. Fedir Shmit and Stepan Rudnytsky died in exile, and Mykhailo Ptukha spent several years in exile. In 1934 the four members from Galicia who had been elected full members in 1929—Mykhailo Vozniak, Filaret Kolessa, Kyrylo Studynsky, and Vasyl Shchurat—were deprived of the title of academician. Their titles were restored in 1939 when Galicia was occupied by the Soviets. The repressions continued until the beginning of the Second World War. In 1936 Semen Semkovsky was imprisoned and later perished, and Mykhailo Kravchuk, Yevhen Oppokiv, and Mykola Svitalsky were exiled. Ahatanhel Krymsky and Kyrylo Studynsky died under unknown circumstances during the forced evacuation at the time of the German invasion of the USSR.

According to the estimates of Nataliia Polonska-Vasylenko, over 250 research associates of the academy, including 22 academicians, were repressed in the 1930s, the largest number being in the humanities: 49 historians, 15 archeologists, 12 art scholars, 18 ethnographers, 5 Orientalists, 43 literary scholars and philologists, 5 pedagogues, 29 jurists, and 29 economists. Nine mathematicians, physicists, and chemists, 14 zoologists and botanists, 19 geologists, 10 medical specialists, and 7 others also suffered political persecution.

The reorganization of the academy in 1934 put an end to the divisions. The academy became an association of 36 branch institutes. It was subordinated to the Council of the People's Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR. Since then, the mathematical, technical, and natural sciences have been accorded first place among the activities of the academy. In 1936 the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences was renamed the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and became a territorial, rather than a national, institution. It was divided again into three divisions: social sciences, mathematical and natural sciences, and technical sciences. That year the All-Ukrainian Association of Marxist-Leninist Scientific Research Institutes was disbanded, and its institutes were placed under the academy. In 1938 the second division was divided into the physical-mathematical and biological divisions. By 1939 the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR consisted of four divisions: physical-chemical and mathematical sciences, biological sciences, technical sciences, and social sciences. The last encompassed the institutes of economics, Ukrainian history, archeology, Ukrainian literature, linguistics, and Ukrainian folklore.


With the Soviet takeover of Volhynia and Galicia in 1939, the Soviets abolished the Shevchenko Scientific Society and transferred its assets to the Ukrainian academy. After the German invasion of the USSR in 1941 the academy was evacuated to Ufa. It was then moved to Moscow in 1943 and returned to Kyiv in 1944. The efforts made by Ukrainian scholars who stayed in Kyiv during the Second World War to restore at least partially the activities of the Ukrainian academy were prohibited under the German occupation, during which heavy losses were inflicted on the institutions and collections of the academy. In 1946 the biochemist Aleksandr Palladin became president of the Academy of Sciences. In 1945–6 a separate division of agricultural sciences was established. By the 11 April 1963 decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the USSR Council of Ministers, the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, as well as all the other academies of the national republics, were directly subordinated to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, that is, it became a branch of the Soviet ‘All-Union’ academy.

In 1962 Borys Paton, a specialist in electric welding, became president of the Ukrainian academy. In the following year the academy was reorganized on the pattern of its ‘parent body,’ the USSR academy. It was divided into three large sections: physical-technical and mathematical sciences, chemical-technological and biological sciences, and social sciences.

In 1956 the Donetsk Scientific Center of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR was set up. It was followed by other similar centers: the Western (or Lviv), Kharkiv, Southern (or Odesa-Crimea), and Dnipropetrovsk centers. By 1980 the academy had 144 full members and 206 corresponding members and about 12,500 research associates. Its three sections contained 11 departments and 86 scientific institutions, among them 60 scientific-research institutes. Altogether about 35,500 people were employed by the academy. In 1979 the Central Scientific Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR held over 10 million published items, many in ‘special repositories’ (see Spetsfondy) accessible only by special permission. The academy maintained its own publishing house, Naukova Dumka, and put out Visnyk AN URSR from 1947 and Dopovidi AN URSR from 1939.

By the early 1930s the All-Ukrainian Academy had made important contributions in the humanities, particularly in Ukrainian studies. During the repressions and reorganizations that followed, the humanities were neglected, and some of them (eg, classical studies, Orientology, comparative linguistics, comparative literature, pre-1917 Ukrainian history, world history, church history, and psychology) completely disappeared from the programs of the scholarly research institutes. Statistical data reflected the decline of humanistic studies: of the 118 full members of the academy in 1970, only 10 represented the humanities, and these were either writers, such as Mykola Bazhan and Oleksander Korniichuk, who were not involved in scholarly work, or Party ideologists, such as Andrii Skaba and Mykola Shamota. The academy was dominated by the physical-mathematical, technical, and natural sciences, which were expected to produce practical concrete results in machine building, metallurgy, energy resource use, agricultural productivity, the quality of production, and environmental protection. A number of theoretical schools emerged at the academy. These schools—the Dmytro Grave school of algebra, the Mykola Krylov school of non-linear mechanics, the O. Dynnyk school of the theory of elasticity, the Lev Pysarzhevsky school of chemistry, and the Viktor Hlushkov school of theoretical cybernetics—made important contributions to the development of various scientific areas. The Ukrainian academy was also known for its contributions to pathophysiology (Oleksander Bohomolets), physics (Kyrylo Synelnykov), botany (Mykola Kholodny), and medicine (Mykola Strazhesko, Vladimir Filatov). In the areas of powder metallurgy and electric welding the academy was the leading institution in the USSR. The academy’s chemists were the first in the USSR to produce heavy water and isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen. The first electronic calculator in the USSR was built in Kyiv. The lack of normal contacts with scientists and scholars outside the USSR and the Soviet bloc has degraded the Ukrainian academy to a provincial scientific institution. The emphasis on the technical sciences and the neglect of the humanities have deprived the academy of its national characteristics and given it an increasingly Soviet character. The increasing Russification of the academy’s publications indicated that its national distinctiveness was disappearing and that it served the interests of Russian scholarship. In the 1970s most of the scientific and scholarly works published by the Ukrainian academy were in Russian: of 34 specialized journals only 16 were published in Ukrainian, the rest being in Russian (13) or bilingual (5). The process of Russification advanced steadily. Soviet historians falsified the past of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, omitting any mention of disputes, purges, trials, the liquidation of many of the academy's members and associates, the discrimination introduced by the party authorities, and the increasing Russification of the academy's institutions. Prominent scholars and distinguished members of the academy, such as Serhii Yefremov, Mykola Vasylenko, S. Rudnytsky, Stepan Smal-Stotsky, Fedir Myshchenko, Kostiantyn Kharlampovych, Mykhailo Slabchenko, and Matvii Yavorsky, no longer appear in the membership lists of the academy.

During the 1980s, the majority (two-thirds) of the Academy’s scholars worked in the section of physical-technological and mathematical sciences and another 19 percent in the section of chemical-technological and biological sciences. Only 5 percent of scholars were employed in the section of social sciences. There was a growing trend to prioritize the applied sciences at the expense of fundamental research. The Academy also lacked autonomy, while depending heavily on the Academy of Sciences of the USSR based in Moscow. Overall, the Academy continued to reflect negative features of Soviet political institutions and social life—the lack of democratic procedures, the supreme rule of bureaucracy, and the suppression of free thinking.

Following the catastrophic Chornobyl nuclear accident in April 1986 the Academy became a main analytical center responsible for minimizing the harmful effects of the radioactive contamination. As early as 1981 the Academy’s president Borys Paton, in the letter to the Soviet Ukrainian government, warned about the possible negative consequences of the growing number of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Specifically he argued against the expansion of the Chornobyl plant, suggesting instead the creation of a center for the study of ecological and economic consequences of nuclear energy based in Chornobyl. These proposals, however, were ignored. In May 1986, the Academy set up the Commission on the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster headed by the Academy’s leading scholars from different fields, among them physicists Viktor Trefilov and Viktor Bariakhtar and hydrogeologist Viacheslav Shestopalov, who took an active part in localizing the radioactive contamination and setting up measures to isolate the nuclear reactor.

The years between 1985 and 1990 also saw a gradual democratization of various institutions, including the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, following the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev to power in Moscow. The main beneficiaries of the new political atmosphere were the humanities long repressed in the USSR. Thus, the Academy’s scholars began to publish the hitherto proscribed historical studies of Dmytro Yavornytsky and Mykhailo Hrushevsky, along with the literary works of Mykola Khvylovy and Volodymyr Vynnychenko. In July 1989, the Presidium of the Academy proclaimed the creation of the Republican Association of Ukrainian Studies which served as a precursor for the founding of the International Association of Ukrainian Studies the following year.

The Academy’s own past was reexamined. In December 1988, the Presidium of the Academy adopted a resolution urging scholars to examine the ‘understudied questions of the establishment and the early years’ of the Academy. This resulted in March 1992 in the largely symbolic renewal of membership in the Academy of its former members who were expelled from it during the 1930s and the 1940s and many of whom perished in Joseph Stalin’s GULAG. Under pressure from the Academy, the leadership of the Communist Party of Ukraine permitted the publication of a pioneering study of the Famine-Genocide of 1932–3, Holod 1932–1933 rokiv v Ukraïni: ochyma istorykiv, movoiu dokumentiv (Famine of 1932–1933 in Ukraine: Through the Eyes of Historians and According to Documents, 1990)

During the years preceding Ukraine’s independence, several scientific research institutes were set up (or considerably expanded) within the Academy, among them the Institute of Energetics; the Institute of Surface Chemistry; the Institute of Technical Thermophysics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (reorganized); Karpenko Physico-Mechanical Institute (reorganized), all in 1986; the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry and Petrochemistry; the Institute for Information Recording, both in 1987; the Institute of Cell Biology and Genetic Engineering; the Institute for Condensed Matter Physics (in Lviv); and the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, all in 1990. The Academy also founded a number of scientific periodicals, most of them in Russian: Kinematika i fizika nebesnykh tel; Morskoi gidrofizicheskii zhurnal; Problemy spetsial’noi elektrometallurgii; Biopolimery i kletka; Kriobiologiia, all in 1985; Khimicheskaia tekhnologiia (1989); and one Ukrainian-language periodical Arkheolohiia (1989). Beginning with the 1960s the share of Ukrainian-language scholarly periodicals and monographs in Ukraine did not exceed twenty percent, a trend that has begun to change slowly only after 1991.

During the years 1986–90, the Academy twice held elections of its new members: 27 full members and 41 corresponding member in 1988 and 25 full members and 53 corresponding members in 1990. Less than 5 percent of the Academy’s new full members represented the humanities and social sciences, a fact indicative of a subordinate position of these disciplines in Soviet Ukraine.

After 1991

The adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine by the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR on 16 July 1990 and of the Declaration of Ukraine’s Independence in August 1991 had a great impact on the status of the Academy of Sciences. Renamed the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the Academy left the jurisdiction of the All-Union Academy of Sciences to become an independent scholarly institution. The new statute of the Academy was adopted by the General Assembly on 20 March 1992. The statute defined the Academy as the highest scholarly institution in Ukraine with the rights of a self-governing body. The Academy has thus become a special institution funded by the state as a scholarly corporation and entrusted with the main task of developing the fundamental science for the benefits of society and state. As an important element of civil society, the Academy was to play a crucial role in the process of democratization of science and its liberation from a burdensome state patronage (rozderzhavlennia) which was to result in the increased rights and role of the Academy within the Ukrainian society. By a decree of Ukraine’s President Leonid Kravchuk the Academy was renamed the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NANU).

In spite of the severe economic crisis in Ukraine during the early 1990s, NANU took advantage of a new democratic situation that allowed for an unprecedented freedom of scholarly activity. A number of new research institutes emerged within NANU after 1991, among them the Institute of Impulse Processes and Applied Chemistry (in Mykolaiv); the Institute of Ukrainian Archeography and Source Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; the Institute of World Economy and International Relations; the Institute of the Ecology of the Carpathians (in Lviv); the Institute of the Ukrainian Language; the Institute of Applied Physics (in Sumy); the Institute of Geography; the Institute of Strategic Studies; the Institute of Oriental Studies; the Institute of Electronic Physics (in Uzhhorod); the Institute of Renewable Energy; the Institute for General Energetics; the Institute of Magnetism; the Institute of Eastern European Studies, and others.

Since the late 1980s the development of the humanities and social sciences has been of primary importance, as a way to compensate for the years of repression and stagnation that these disciplines endured during the Soviet times. In the late 1980s and the 1990s, publications of Ukrainian scholars in the humanities and social sciences remarkably contributed greatly to the enrichment of Ukrainian culture and had a significant impact on the Ukrainian society. In the field of cultural studies, two general surveys published in the 1990s were of particular importance: Fenomen ukraïns’koï kultury (The Phenomenon of Ukrainian Culture, 1996), edited by Viktor Shynkaruk and Yevhen Bystrytsky, and Narys istoriï ukraïns’koï kutltury (The Outline of the History of Ukrainian Culture, 1998) by Myroslav Popovych. Among the accomplishments of Ukrainian sociologists were two collective works that appeared in 1997: Hromadians’ke suspilstvo: ideolohiia i realnist’ (Civil Society: Ideology and Reality) and Hromadians’ke suspil’stvo: sotsial’ni tendentsiï ta chynnyky stanovlennia (Civil Society: Social Trends and Developmental Factors). Legal scholars from the Institute of State and Law of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine took an active part in developing the new Ukrainian legislation. Historians from the Institute of the History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine produced works on a number of subjects that were omitted or distorted by the Soviet historiography, such as Ukraine’s struggle for independence (1917–20), the Famine-Genocide of 1932–3 (the Holodomor), and the Ukrainian nationalist resistance during and after the Second World War. Literary scholarship could boast of the publications of works of repressed poets and dissident writers (such as Vasyl Stus). Significant contributions were also made by a new generation of scholars in the humanities, in particular from the Institute of East European Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the Institute of Archeography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and the Institute of Literature of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

The development of scientific research was marked by ambiguities. The severe economic crisis of the 1990s radically impeded the progress in the fields of scientific research as many leading scientists left the Academy to work in a commercial sector or emigrated to the West. Nevertheless, there were remarkable advances in the fields of mechanics, nuclear physics, physical optics, biochemistry, and physical chemistry. In the late 1990s, in response to socioeconomic crisis, the Academy defined three priority fields of research: energy resources, agrarian-industrial complex, and economics. As a result, NANU’s institutes designed the national program entitled ‘Oil and Gas of Ukraine until 2010.’ The Presidium of the Academy took part in preparing President Leonid Kuchma’s address to the Supreme Council of Ukraine entitled ‘The Strategy of Socioeconomic Policy for 2000–4.’

Since the 1990s the participation of Ukrainian scientists in international projects has gained a new momentum. One of the best known international projects was the Sea Start Space Program organized in the Institute of Radio Astronomy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine by a collaborative effort of Ukraine, Russia, and the USA. The Institute of Ionic Sphere of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine has developed a close collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University. NANU has developed ties with the scholarly community abroad through international organizations such as UNESCO, NATO, and various grant programs (such as CRDF or INTAS), as well as on the basis of mutual agreements with the academies of sciences of Poland, Austria, Norway, the USA, the Royal Swedish academy, Bavarian academy, the Royal Society of London, the British Council, Stanford University and others. In 1994, NANU’s long-serving president, Borys Paton, became also the head of the International Association of the Academies of Sciences that united the national academies of post-Soviet republics.

Between 1991 and 2000 the Academy elected 80 full members, 214 corresponding members, and 123 foreign members. However, due to the prolonged economic crisis the state financing of science and scholarship sank to the lowest level of 0.22 percent of GDP in 1999. At the same time, the relations between the private sector and the scientific community remained largely incipient. In addition, the international scholarly collaboration was impeded by the deficiencies of Ukrainian laws and the absence of clear state strategies for scientific and technological development. Because of the lack of governmental attention to the most science-oriented industries Ukraine has been in danger of becoming a home to the world’s most environmentally harmful industries. Also the Academy continued to lose scientific cadres: in the late 1990s alone no less than 2,000 scientists left Ukraine, while the number of scientists with doctor degrees in the Academy decreased by 131 individuals, the equivalent of 5.4 percent.

In the new millennium several major challenges facing the Academy persisted and some further problems emerged. One of the lasting consequences of Russification has been that the number of Ukrainian-language publications devoted to scientific research has failed to increase substantially and many academic periodicals continue to be published under Russian titles and contain numerous Russian-language articles. Yet a far bigger concern has been the aging and continuous loss of NANU’s scientific personnel. In 2009, the average age of NANU scientists was 50.2 years (62.2 years for scientists with doctoral degrees), and in 2016 this figure increased to 51.3 (and 63.8 for scientists with doctoral degrees). At the same time the number of scientists working within the Academy has been steadily decreasing: from 25,768 in 2005 to 24,058 in 2012 and 18,346 in 2016. Particularly, the number of scientists with doctoral degrees decreased from 2,629 in 2010 to 2,530 in 2015. Consequently, there has been a significant decline in the number of dissertations submitted to the NANU institutes: from 100 doctoral dissertations in 2010 to 88 in 2012 and from 434 candidate dissertations to 371 two years later. Overall, since independence the number of NANU employees (including those who worked at scientific departments in the industrial sector) fell by half: from 89,573 in 1988 to 40,609 in 2012.

While the NANU’s financial situation improved during the early 2000s, it has worsened dramatically in the following decade, and especially following the Russian military aggression in 2014 which led to a significant decrease in the state investments in science. In 2014, the overall state spending on science fell by one-third in comparison with 1990. As a consequence, that year NANU lost 5,619 scientists (or 13 % of their staff). At the same time, there has been a sharp decline in 2014 (34%) in the number of new graduate students in NANU’s research institutes in comparison with 2009. The productivity NANU scientists and scholars has been another point of concern. Judging by the number of publications referenced in Science Citation Index Expanded in 1995 and 2006, the Ukrainian scientists lagged far behind their Russian, Polish, and Israeli colleagues. The situation is no better in the fields of social sciences and the humanities. Even within the Ukrainian scientific community, the NANU members comprised only about one-fourth of the Top-100 scientists in Ukraine in 2011.

In spite of that, during the last few years the Ukrainian scientific community could boast of a few major achievements. In 2016, Ukraine finally became an associate member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), chiefly due to the participation of NANU scientists in the project of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Although Ukrainian physicists were not among the Nobel Prize winners in 2013, they did contribute to the award-winning discovery of the Higgs boson. Another notable success of Ukrainian scientists and engineers was their work on the first stage of Antares, an expendable launch system, designed and manufactured in Ukraine in 2013 by the Pivdenne Design Bureau in Dnipropetrovsk.

As a possible solution to the problem of permanent underfunding of science in Ukraine some scholars suggested that the state fund only the best scientific groups and stop funding research teams that do not live up to the international standards. Others have argued for creating closer links between science and business and for making innovative research profitable through the system of patents and licences, with the state supporting only the leading innovators. There have also been continuous debates concerning the future of NANU, in particular how to reform the institution that has not seen a major change for generations. Among the most radical ideas proposed from within and from without was the transformation of NANU into a civic ‘club of scholars’ while transferring fundamental research under the auspices of universities. Most scholars, however, have remained loyal to the original idea of the academy’s founding fathers, that is, the integration of scholarly community with the system of special research institutes. They claim that this idea will remain viable for the future if NANU reacts adequately to the challenges of time.

As of 2016 NANU is comprised of three sections—physical-technological and mathematical sciences; chemical and biological sciences; and social sciences and humanities—which unite fourteen branches of sciences: mathematics; information science; mechanics; physics and astronomy; earth sciences; physicotechnical problems and material science; physicotechnical problems in energetics; nuclear physics; chemistry; biochemistry, physiology, and molecular biology; general biology; economics; history, philosophy, and law; literature, language, and art history. Five regional scientific centers are run jointly by the Academy and the Ministry of Education and Science, including Donetsk (now located in Kramatorsk, Donetsk oblast), Western (Lviv), Southern (Odesa), Northeastern (Kharkiv), Dnipro region (Dnipro), and the Innovation center in Kyiv. The activity and financing of the Crimean scholarly center ceased in 2014 due to Russia’s occupation of the Crimea.

The main elements of NANU’s organizational structure continue to be the so-called scientific-research institutes (naukovo-doslidni instytuty, or NDI) and other research centers of a similar type. NANU also operates several national libraries, museums, and nature preserves and parks, including the National Library of Ukraine; the National Scientific Center ‘Kharkiv Physical-Technical Institute’; the National Historical and Archeological Open-Air MuseumOlbia’; the National Botanical Garden; the National Dendrological Park ‘Sofiivka’ (see Sofiivka Park); the National Natural Science Museum; the Lviv National Scientific Library of Ukraine; the National Center ‘Minor Academy of Sciences of Ukraine’, the latter operated jointly by Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science and NANU. NANU also runs a number of industrial enterprises, among them the so-called research plants, engineering and design departments, and computer centers.

The structure of the academy encompasses 168 scientific institutes and 46 entities that combine research and manufacturing. The total number of employees working within NANU in 2016 was 37,447 individuals, among them 18,346 scientists, including 2,530 scientists with doctoral degrees and 7,603 with candidate degrees. NANU’s membership includes 197 full members (academicians), 370 corresponding members, and 104 foreign members.

The most recently updated information about the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine is available on its website: <>.

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Serhiy Bilenky, Oleksander Ohloblyn, Bohdan Strumińsky, Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article was updated in 2017.]

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