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Resident Spotlight: Anna Avdiushchenko (Ukraine)

Meet Dr. Anna Avdiushchenko, who joined the International House community in March 2022 from Ukraine by way of Poland to conduct a short-term research project related to creating local development policies based on a circular economy in urban environments. A professor at Poland’s Jagiellonian University and a mother of two young children, Anna shares with us a little bit about her work in sustainable development and her experience living at I-House with her family.

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, and what are you studying?
I am originally from Ukraine and have been living in Poland for the last 7 years. I moved to Poland in 2015 for a post-doc internship at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. After my post-doc I started to work there as an assistant professor, and since 2020 I have had a fulltime position as associate professor. My current research focuses on sustainable development at the local level, with special attention to the circular economy model of development in urban areas. In 2016-2020 I was principal investigator in a research project devoted to circular economy issues in European regions. The project was financed by EU Programme Horizon 202 – Maria Curie Actions.

Last year I was awarded by the Koscziuszko Foundation to participate in their Exchange Programme to the US. I am now a visiting scholar at Columbia Climate School (the Earth Institute, Research Programme in Sustainability Policy and Management). I am here with my family–my husband and two daughters, Emilia (3 years old), and Olivia (16 months old). My husband had a parental leave for this period, so for me it was a great opportunity to develop my research career here in NYC.

How did you hear about I-House? What made you decide to live here?
My colleague from the Jagiellonian University, who also was a visiting scholar within the KF Programme in 2017, suggested to me this fantastic place. I checked the I-House website and understood that it would be the best place for me and for my family for these four months in NYC. It is my first time in the US, and I think that being an I-House resident is a brilliant opportunity to become a part of international community, where I can learn more about the US and other countries’ traditions and values, and feel true spirit of the US academia life.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I just love the weekly programmes in I-House. Also there are so many interesting events which promote international understanding across the global I-House community. Unfortunately, for me as a mother of two small girls it is rather difficult to take part in all events I’m interested in, but I do my best to find time to participate in the most interesting ones! Moreover, I appreciate so much that my daughters from their childhood could be a part of this international community and participate in intercultural dialogue every single day. After only one month here, I see how they are interacting and becoming more and more openminded.

I also highly appreciate the supportive attitude of each person from I-House staff. Here I feel really safe and involved. International environment, supporting atmosphere on each step. All amenities! I just like each place and each event here!

Can you tell us a little bit about your career goals? What would you like to accomplish?
I am a researcher and an academic teacher. I believe that education is really one of the most powerful and valuable activities for changing the world for the better. Currently, I am working on my habilitation (one of the steps in research career in some European countries in order to be a full professor in a future).

My research focuses on cities because cities are one of our most critical intervention points for creating sustainable local economies, reducing impact on natural environments, and increasing the quality of humans’ lives. And New York City is for sure a perfect place for this research on how circular economy practices could lead to sustainable development.

I believe that in order to promote sustainable development and circular economy, one of the most important things involves changing the attitudes and patterns of everyday behavior of cities’ residents. That is why I am working hard on the social aspects of circular economy as well as the economic and environmental aspects. In addition to my research and teaching activities in the university I participate in science popularization events for the wider society, like conducting environmental workshops for children from preschools. I believe that we should shape an environmentally sensitive mindset for our future generations in order to inspire them to create better, more green, more circular, and more sustainable environments.

Do you think your experience living at I-House will help you accomplish your goals?
Yes, I believe that I-House experience could help me because it is one more opportunity to learn how to be a part of highly diverse community, how to speak in order to explain and share my perspective related to sustainability. It is one more chance to share the idea of green and sustainable practices in everyday life. It is one more place to meet new people and professionals who also work on sustainability. Networking is a highly powerful thing in modern world!

What is your favorite spot at I-House?
Study center. I just love its calm and peaceful atmosphere. It is the best place for thinking about research and life goals and plans.

Thank you, Anna! We are so glad to have you and your family as a part of our community!