The first “Social contract for Ukraine” seminar: reflection and education as the basis for the transformation of the social contract

Aspen Institute Kyiv continues to implement the project dedicated to the social contract for Ukraine. On October 5, the Institute held the first “Social contract for Ukraine” seminar for Community Members and graduates. Leaders from various fields joined the dialogue: public administration, business, jurisprudence, science, and media.

Exchanging unique leadership experiences, opinions, and ideas, the seminar participants discussed the phenomenon of the social contract and the peculiarities of its formation in Ukraine. In particular, the interaction of society and elites, the foundations of the social contract, and its geopolitical dimension. Denis Poltavets, head of program development at Aspen Institute Kyiv, and Andriy Kulakov, program coordinator of the Aspen Community of Kyiv Institute, moderated the dialogue.

Reflection, dialogue, education, tolerance for mistakes: how to transform the social contract

Some seminar participants said that any democracy is characterized by internal dynamics. Society can go through the stages of growing up:

  • Only execution of orders from the authority to which management has been delegated.
  • Discovering one’s subjectivity through action.
  • The emergence of questions like “What do I want?” in society.

It is necessary to transform the social contract considering this process of growing up not only by reacting to real challenges but also by reflection. 

In addition, it is necessary to develop the skill of tolerating learning errors, as well as conducting a dialogue. Equally important for the nation’s development and the formation of new education leaders. It is crucial to understand that the natural self-evolution of everyone will contribute to the self-evolution of the whole society.

Basic human rights, historical tradition, and “genetic code” are the foundations of the social contract

The seminar participants discussed the idea of human rights in the social contract, including freedom, education rights, and the right to figure out oneself in society for one’s own and common good. These principles can bring everyone together and help to avoid destructive conflicts.

In addition to that, the peculiarities of our “genetic code” such as entrepreneurship, willingness to protect our home, and the desire for order and beauty, will play an important role in the social contract for Ukraine. Historical tradition will also be useful, for example, the long history of the education of Ukrainian elites in foreign universities or the implementation of Magdeburg law in Ukrainian cities.

The geopolitical aspect of the social contract

Participants also explored the geopolitical aspect of the social contract. Nations, which, like people, are unequal, can also be seen as parts of a larger community. In this context, Ukraine should join the European social contract. It is crucial to determine what our state can give to the European community from its side to achieve this.

The security aspect of the social contract will also be fundamental. Even after victory in the Russian-Ukrainian war, our society will face an existential threat from its northern neighbor. Such a threat could be an economic driver and technological innovation and development.

The project “Social contract for Ukraine” is implemented with the support of NED (National Endowment for Democracy)