KF Supports Polish Studies in the U.S. – Join our Mission

Over the years, the Kosciuszko Foundation has helped fund Polish Studies at over 20 American Universities, increasing American knowledge about the Polish language, culture, and history. KF President and Executive Director Marek Skulimowski shared the Foundation's experiences in this matter during "The Future of Polish Studies," the interdisciplinary conference organized in Poland by the University of Warsaw and the University of Cambridge. He joined speakers from around the world, including experts such as historian and author Norman Davis.

The conference gathered leading experts in multiple disciplines who discussed directions for innovative development of “Polish Studies” worldwide. Emphasis was placed on strategic challenges and opportunities in studying the Polish language and culture, fostering effective interdisciplinary research and cooperation, identifying the most significant current research questions and theoretical approaches, and cultivating productive engagement with wider audiences and institutions. The speakers also discussed determining necessary changes in the study of the broader Central and Eastern European region in the context of Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine.

During the conference, KF President Marek Skulimowski shared a presentation about the Foundation’s long tradition of promoting the teaching of the Polish language in the United States. He pointed out several challenges of Polish Studies in the United States, which include:

  • Declining enrollment,
  • Lack of qualified lecturers,
  • Domination of Russian Studies,
  • Decreasing resources for humanities faculty,
  • Limited international recognition of Polish Studies,

Facing these persisting problems, the Kosciuszko Foundation has supported Polish studies programs at over 20 American universities, including Stanford University, the University of Buffalo, the University of Chicago, and Harvard University, among others. Moreover, the KF and the Foundation for Polish Science created a joint project for a Polish Chair at Columbia University, which was established in 2009 thanks to funds from the U.S. and Poland. Currently, the Foundation helps fund Polish Studies programs at the following universities:

  • Hunter College in New York – Polish language courses, Polish literature, and a minor in Polish will be offered in the fall of 2023.
  • Brown University in Providence, RI – Polish language and Polish cinema (funded by the KF and NAWA)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Polish language and culture (funded by the KF and NAWA)
  • Loyola University Chicago – The Kosciuszko Foundation Scholar was established thanks to the generosity of Bozena and John McLees and Professor John Kulczycki. In 2022-24, Dr. Maciej Olchawa conducted research and teaches about Polish and Eastern European politics.
  • Daemen University and Canisius College in Buffalo – a Warsaw University visiting scholar partially funded by the Kosciuszko Foundation.

It is worth noting that every year, the KF Exchange to the U.S. program sponsors 2-3 teaching fellows from Poland who stay in the U.S. for 5 to 10 months.

Skulimowski concluded his speech by offering solutions to some problems that Polish Studies in the U.S. are currently facing:

  • Financing from Poland through NAWA, universities, and non-profits,
  • Coordinated promotion approach between the Ministry of Education, MFA, and Polish diplomatic missions,
  • Incentivize Polish studies students with grants and scholarships (exchange programs, summer sessions, conferences, etc.),
  • Teaching Polish Studies in the broader regional context,
  • Teacher of Polish as a foreign language – official recognition of the profession in Poland.
  • Wider usage of digital tools in teaching Polish.

The Kosciuszko Foundation invites everyone to join its mission and help support Polish Studies in the U.S. By becoming a KF member or donating, individuals can directly support KF initiatives aimed at educating Americans about Polish culture and history and help create the lasting image of Poland as a modern and diverse country.


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