Perspectives on CEE: History

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On February 6 the first online session in the series “Perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe” was held. The project is organized by Collegium Civitas and SRAS (USA) and promotes our study abroad and summer school courses. Among the participants we welcomed students and representatives of Study Abroad Offices from American universities. In the first session we looked at the region from the perspective of history. Special focus was put on Poland, a country whose location in the geopolitical and strategic center of Europe resulted in many challenges throughout its history.

The topic “History of Poland in the 20th Century – At a Glance” was presented by Prof. Dariusz Stola, professor of history at the Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, former director of POLIN – Museum of History of Polish Jews.

Minister Jacek Michałowski, member of Solidarity Movement in the 80’s, former Head of Chancellery of the President of Poland (2010-15) shared with the participants his personal story with the focus on his involvement in the democratic opposition during communism. Minister Michałowski explained how the events in Poland started the ‘chain reaction’ and paved the way for the transition from communism to democracy in the region.

Dr. Dr. Roland Zarzycki, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at Collegium Civitas in his presentation “Blood vs. Velvet” presented a comparison between the Czech Velvet Revolution and the Romanian Revolution showing how different the roads to democracy can be.

Dr. Katarzyna Maniszewska, Summer School director and Vice-Rector for International Relations at our university gave an overview about the history of German reunification pointing out what short- and long-term social consequences such rapid transformation brings.

Next session in the series “Perspectives on CEE” will be held on Saturday, March 6 and will be devoted to security issues. Starting with a broad history and background, we then move to examine the challenges present in Europe today: hybrid threats, cybersecurity issues, and migration. These security issues stem, in part, from globalization and can be felt the world over. Thus, our discussions can be considered case studies for understanding global phenomena felt in other regions as well.

The third and final session will take place on Saturday, April 3. In session three we address the state of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. What are the reasons for democratic backsliding? What are the main challenges to CEE democracies? How international organizations and local civil societies help address these challenges? We will define the main threats to democracy and stability, including the rise of extremism. In particular we will focus on rise of right wing extremism over the last five years. Finally, from a practical point of view, we will take a look at de-radicalization policies and programs. What works and what doesn’t?

Each session meets one Saturday for four lectures. Each session stands independently; you can take one, two, or all three sessions, as suits your schedule and interests. Each session is USD 149. More information on the program & enrollment: