Ukrainian researcher Eduard Sablon Leiva joins the Faculty through Scholars at Risk

Earlier this month we welcomed Eduard Sablon Leiva to the Faculty of Theology. Leiva is here for a three-month research period, supported by the University of Oslo’s Scholars at Risk Committee due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Eduard Sablon Leiva. Photo: Ashlee Glen
Eduard Sablon Leiva wanted to pursue an academic career within the field of theology from a young age. Now he is working on his second PhD-project at the Faculty of Theology, UiO. Photo: Ashlee Glen

Eduard Sablon Leiva had to take a break from his research projects in the first few months after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year.

‘My time was devoted to help internally displaced people and others in need in the midst of a dreadful, unstable time in Ukraine,’ Leiva says.   

His stay at the Faculty of Theology allows Leiva to focus on his PhD-project again.

Controversies in Eastern Orthodox theology

Leiva explains that the project he is currently working on aims at comparing two main approaches to theology in Eastern Orthodoxy in the twentieth century: One approach, represented by Vladimir N. Lossky, wanted to go “back to the Fathers”; the other approach, represented by Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, wanted to go beyond.

‘The adherents of the first approach wanted to follow the language, spirit and theological method of Eastern Patristics as closely as possible,’ Leiva explains.

‘The adherents of the second approach intended to develop and expand the boundaries of the theological and dogmatic tradition, going beyond the Fathers' thought, yet without becoming either their opponents or competitors.’

The result of these controversies was different methodological approaches. In light of these, and the substantial implications they had later on, Leiva will now look closer into Vladimir N. Lossky’s and Fr. Sergius Bulgakov’s theological methods in his project.

Eduard S. Leiva

- Has a master’s degree in theology and religious studies from Leuven, Belgium and a PhD in theology from National Pedagogical Dragomanov University in Kyiv, Ukraine.

- Has been working part-time on his second PhD in Leuven, Belgium since 2017.

- Is the academic dean, lecturer in systematic theology and director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary in Lviv, in partnership with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Missouri, USA.  

- Is an expert of the National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Science and education under attack

The war in Ukraine has made significant negative impacts on science and education in the country. Leiva is one of many academics who have left Ukraine in search of asylum. The result is a shortage of human resources in higher education institutions – institutions that now also suffer from physical damages and occupation some places in Ukraine.

‘Many students have lost the opportunity to continue or complete their studies or to enroll in a desired educational institution. In addition, most Ukrainian students and scholars do not have the opportunity to take part in international exchange programs or internships abroad at this time,’ Leiva says.

The shortage of electricity and unstable Internet access in many cities does not make it easy to continue an academic life. Neither do the interruptions from air-raid alarms and time spent in bomb shelters.

‘All these factors have resulted in a number of transformations and adaptations to the new reality of life,’ Leiva says.  

‘However, thanks to hospitable European universities, many Ukrainians have been granted scholarships and academic positions to continue their education or research.’

Now Leiva is ready to continue his PhD-project at the Faculty of Theology in the coming months, while also contributing to research projects and academic events at the faculty.

‘The grant at the University of Oslo is a great honor and an opportunity to renew my research and collaborate with the Norwegian academic community,’ he concludes. 

By Marie R. Midtlid
Published Nov. 24, 2022 10:03 AM - Last modified Nov. 24, 2022 3:05 PM