Crisis in Ukraine

Many Albertus Magnus students may be wondering what is happening in Ukraine that Russian military forces were ordered to invade the country. The answer is not too complicated, but for many Americans under the age of fifty, the answer may be elusive. I’ll try to give you a succinct answer to what is happening in Ukraine.

In 1917, when Czar Nicholas, the leader of Russia, was deposed and assassinated by Russian communists, the Ukraine sent soldiers to fight on the side of imperialist forces (looking to restore the monarchy) against the communist forces. The communists were then trying to consolidate power across the whole of Russia. After the communist victory in the Russian civil war, the communists took over the Ukraine, absorbing the area into a greater union of soviet-style socialist republics (popularly known for many years as the USSR).

The Ukrainians hated the communists and actually supported the German Army as it invaded communist Russia in 1941, hailing the Germans as liberators from the communists. Soon, however, the Nazi SS began killing Ukrainians just as they had done to other people, turning the Ukrainians against them. The Ukrainians then fought alongside the communists to destroy the German Army. In 1945 the communists pushed German forces out of greater Russia and back into Germany, ending World War II. From that point until the early 1990s, the Russian communists controlled the Ukraine.

When the communist party fell out of power in the early 1990s a number of former communist-ruled areas – among them Georgia, Estonia, Belarus, and Ukraine – became independent countries. Since then, many have struggled to forge parliamentary democracies along the lines of modern Western European countries. It has been a very difficult process, as no in those countries ever experienced democracy before. I therefore believe that what has happened in Ukraine over the past six months is growing pains and blood being spilled as that nation’s citizenry and political leadership comes to terms with what is expected under democratic rule.

Unfortunately, given the unrest in Ukraine, Russian President Vladmir Putin has made the situation much worse by ordering Russian military forces to invade Ukraine.

Ukraine has been called the “breadbasket” of Russia. The land is very fertile and Ukrainian farms have long provided Russia with the bread to feed the citizenry across the nation. In addition, as the country faces the Black Sea (which does not freeze over in winter) it is astrategically vital area for the Russians who desire to keep a naval presence there. The Black Sea, which connects to the Mediterranean, is the gateway to the rest of the world’s oceans for the Russians.

Since the breakup of the former USSR in 1999, most all Ukrainians have wanted to forge closer alliances with Western European democracies rather than remain economically tied to Russia. However, the two nations have gas and oil treaties that make them co-dependent. Recently, Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, rejected offers from Western democracies to join the European Union which would help their economy. This ignited the waves of protests seen for weeks and weeks now. Many Ukrainians are suspicious that Russian President Vladmir Putin put pressure on the Ukrainian president to reject Western economic agreements. They very much want to “westernize” their nation and see closer western ties as a means to improve their economy.

Another issue for Ukraine is that although Ukraine is an independent nation, inside of it is a large area called the Crimea, where many Russians live. They desire some sort of reunification with Russia.

Final Thoughts
Given that Russia 1) invaded Georgia a few years ago, 2) presently has army and naval forces in Ukraine, 3) wants to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence, and 4) has rejected calls from political leaders that it withdraw its forces from Ukraine, it is likely that a war will occur.

Interested in learning more about Criminal Justice? Click here to find out what Criminal Justice Programs we offer here at Albertus Magnus College.

michael-gearyMichael Geary
Sociology Department
Associate Professor, Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Program
B.S., Mercy College
M.S., Long Island University
J.D., Pace University

Read more from Michael Geary:

National Security and Civil Liberty: A Chronological Perspective. M. Geary (2014) Carolina Academic Press.

Terrorism Investigations and the Public Safety Exception to the Miranda Rule. M. Geary (2013) Homeland Security Review, Volume 7, Number 3.

Writing and the Dominican Tradition at Albertus Magnus College

AMCstmartindeporres-49Writing as a form of engaged scholarship and preaching is integral to the Dominican Tradition at Albertus Magnus College. From the inception of the Order of Preachers in the 13th century when Saint Dominic advocated a “pursuit of truth” through scholarly work and preaching, among other approaches (2-3), the Dominican Order has been committed to sharing the fruits of contemplation with others. Since it requires persuasion, knowledge of audience and clear communication, preaching requires a thorough understanding of rhetoric. At Albertus Magnus College, students are given many opportunities to improve their writing and understanding of rhetoric in foundational English classes as well as through interdisciplinary writing intensive classes, and this emphasis helps students develop as communicators as well as engaged scholars and potential preachers.

The development of rhetorical understanding is integral to the growth of a writer and therefore key to students’ ability to preach in an effective, compassionate and clear manner. Through their study of argument; audience; correct grammar; and the rhetorical appeals of logos, pathos and ethos, students learn to develop the sensitivity and ability to write effectively and persuasively. Therefore, students’ efforts to improve their writing skills and their understanding of rhetoric directly support the Dominican Heritage and help sustain the Dominican Tradition at Albertus Magnus College.

Requiring that students develop their writing skills is also a commitment to the Dominican value of engaged scholarship, which was advocated and embodied by Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great, among many other Dominican saints and scholars (3). After all, writing enables scholars to both share the fruits of their contemplation with the world and connect with other scholars (7). Once scholars have contemplated – often through writing — they are able to share and communicate truths with others.

Students benefit from developing their writing skills and understanding of rhetoric even if they don’t pursue the life of a scholar. Students will need rhetorical understanding — knowledge of audience, subject, purpose, genre and context — whenever they write a cover letter for a job or a business memo to an office staff. The ability to clearly, effectively and wisely communicate is a worthwhile pursuit that will enable students to share their knowledge in an effective way in whatever field they choose.

Writing is therefore integral to our Dominican Heritage of preaching, students’ needs to develop scholarship and rhetorical understanding, and the practical education that Albertus Magnus College is dedicated to giving its students.

Works Cited

The Dominican Charism in Higher Education: A Vision in the Search of Truth. River Forest, IL: Dominican University, 2012. Print.

natalie-devaullNatalie Devaull
English Department
Assistant Professor, Director of the Writing Program

Write Place, Right Time

“Writing takes time – and patience, more than anything else. If you are willing to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, you will become a good writer.” – Richard Rodriguez

IMG_7464Working at the Albertus Writing Center rerouted the course of my life. Before I was hired there in my freshman year, I had no interest in teaching whatsoever. I loved to write and even enjoyed public speaking, but the idea of lecturing a group of bored students about my passion filled me with dread. I couldn’t cope with that kind of dismissal. I spent years insisting that I would never teach.

However, once I began working at the Writing Center, my perspective changed. At the Writing Center, associates don’t just correct papers: we help students identify their unique writing struggles and teach them the skills to work through those issues on their own. I found myself explaining everything from comma placement to quotation usage, and for every bored student, there were so many who wanted to learn. I watched returning appointees grow more and more comfortable with their own writing. The first time that one of these students proudly corrected a problem before I could point it out, I realized that I truly could make an impact doing something I loved.

Because the Writing Center assists students with their writing across all disciplines, I’ve spent just as much time learning during my appointments. Working with students outside the English program, I’ve learned so much about philosophy, business, art therapy — the list is endless. Even outside the Center, friends I’ve made both at school and online ask me to define metonymy or explain verb tenses, and in turn they teach me about their passions. As I entered my senior year, I realized that I never wanted to stop having this in my life.

Before the Albertus Writing Center, I’d never have dreamed of graduate school. I’d never have imagined applying for TA positions or hoping to become a college professor. Now, as a senior graduating in December 2013, I intend to pursue a doctorate in Composition and Rhetoric, with the ultimate goal of leading another Writing Center. If I can change even one mind about writing through that, I’ve done something right.

IMG_7432Students can make an appointment at the Writing Center by calling the Writing Center (773-8590), emailing the Writing Center ( or coming to speak to us in person during our regular hours. The Writing Center, is located on the second floor of Rosary Hall, is open from: 9:00am-8:00pm on Monday-Thursday and 9:00am-3:00pm on Friday.

Tori Sheldon Portrait IMG_4298Before coming to Albertus, I spent years insisting that I never wanted to be a teacher. I loved writing of all stripes, but I felt that English teaching positions focused too much on content and too little on writing technique and composition. That changed once I began working in the Albertus Writing Center. I finally saw my potential to help others in exactly the field I thought didn’t exist. I was encouraged to explain technique and composition so that students might better discuss their content. The first time that a returning student proudly corrected a sentence without my help, I realized that I had made an actual impact doing something I loved, and I knew I wanted to do more.

Working as a writing tutor leaked into my other interests and activities: friends I’ve made through online gaming now ask me to define metonymy or explain verb tenses, and I’ve begun creating art tutorials along with my hobby drawing. I participated in the English Club and worked on Breakwater’s review committee, although I’ve left both to focus on my academics in my final semester. Now, as a senior graduating in December 2013, I intend to pursue a doctorate in Rhetoric with the ultimate goal of becoming a college professor and heading a Writing Center of my own.