Women Waging Peace Profile

Iryna Brunova-Kalisetska

Ukraine, Europe

“I never expected to become a character out of my own PhD dissertation on forced migration,” observes Iryna Brunova-Kalisetska. But after the Russian annexation of Crimea, her home region, the professor and psychologist of identity-based conflict had to flee to avoid arrest for her outspoken opposition to the takeover. Even if the fighting is confined to only certain areas of the country, Brunova-Kalisetska notes that everyone has been affected — and not simply those in the news, such as war widows or the internally displaced. Her previous career involved teaching at a public university while training educators and community members, both in Ukraine and abroad, on intercultural conflict prevention and peacebuilding methods. “I couldn’t imagine,” she says, “that we’d have fighting in the place I’d spent 15 years teaching people how to avoid just that.” Now based in Kyiv, Brunova-Kalisetska is executive director of the Integration and Development Center for Information and Research, a nongovernmental organization. Its activities focus on education for the prevention of multicultural conflict, including coordination of a peacebuilding curriculum for students from the primary levels through university. The center also supports education for others on fostering tolerance, including journalists, local and regional governments and nongovernmental organizations. “Reconciliation means listening,” she says, and through her work at the center, she helps people solve misunderstandings that arise from varying cultures, languages or other differences. Brunova-Kalisetska has also been a research fellow since 2014 at the Institute of Social and Political Psychology, within the Ukrainian National Academy of Educational Sciences.