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Логотип CGES

Seventh Summer School in Strelna “European Union Studies: Methodological Opportunities and Limits”

July 1 – 5, 2013

St. Petersburg, Strelna

Organization and financing partners: CGES, Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation Russia, Centre for European Studies – EU Centre at the European University at St. Petersburg.
Working Language: English and Russian

Summer schools on the Methodology of European Studies are a regular and continuously demanded activity of the CGES for PhD scholars. In summer 2013, the annual Strelna Summer School took place for the seventh time. The aim of the Summer School was not only to give young researchers the opportunity to present and discuss their research in front of a group of international scholars, but also to offer them an intensive training in methodological and theoretical aspects of European Studies, as well as to widen their scientific perspectives. During the Summer School, professors and lecturers from Russia and Germany provided insights into the methodological problems and the state of the art of European studies from an interdisciplinary perspective.

A call for applications was open until June 10, 2013. The application dossiers included: CV, motivation letter (no more than 300 words), short description of the PhD project, which shall include the title, the research question, the hypothesis and the theoretical framework for the dissertation (no more than 1000 words).

The main goals of the Summer School were to train their skills in the methodology of research and to provide young researchers with a theoretical background on the current issues in European Studies.

To achieve this goal the combination of the following forms of teaching were used:
• Lectures and seminars by EU and Russian political and social scientists on different theoretical and methodological approaches in European studies;
• Methodological discussion of the papers and research plans presented by the participants (in two parallel panels);
• The Fifth Annual “Meeting on the Neva” discussion with Russian and German politicians and professors on the topic “Germany before the Elections: Discussions on Internal and External Policies”.

The attendees of Seventh Summer School were 20 PhD students from various regions of Russia and from different academic backgrounds. Students took classes by German and Russian professors, presented their research projects and received comments and advice from their colleagues and professors. Theoretical and methodological introductions took place in the forum; presentations of students were divided into two panels, bringing together PhD students with interests in comparable topics and providing them with enough time to present their research and to discuss it with the other participants and the two moderators of the respective panel. The two panels concentrated on ’European Politics’ (moderators: Dr. Elena Belokurova, Dr. Gleb Yarovoy) and on ’European Identities and Societies’ (moderators: Dr. Maria Nozhenko, Dr. Tatjana Zimenkova). To conclude the methodological part, two more lectures were held about the specifics of comparative methodology (Dr. Tatjana Zimenkova) and combination of qualitative and quantitative methods in the research (Dr. Chiara Pierobon).

In 2013, special attention was paid to the understanding of contemporary state of the arts In the studies of different levels of politics and society: local and regional sub-national, national, supranational and global levels. The contemporary studies of local and regional sub-national level in Europe and EU-Russian relations were described by Dr. Gelb Yarovoy. The nation-building politics and identities was discussed with Dr. Maria Nozhenko. The studies of EU level politics and societies were reflected with Dr. Elena Belokurova instead of the planned lecture of Prof. Andreas Vasilache, who cancelled his visit in the last moment. Last, but not least, the current globalization studies were presented by Dr. Katja Freistein (Bielefeld University).

The Fifth annual “Meeting on the Neva” supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, an open panel discussion taking place during a canal cruise in St. Petersburg was dedicated to the topic of “Germany before the Elections: Discussions on Internal and External Policies”. The key participants of the panel were Dr. Ferdinand von Weyhe (Acting Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in St. Petersburg) and Tim Rohardt (chief Referent of “Parliamentarian Lefts” in the SPD Bundestag faction, Lecturer at the High School of Economics and Law, Berlin). All participants took part to the lively discussion, while enjoying the impressive view of St. Petersburg from the waterside.

On the last day of the summer school, the final discussion on the topic “The Future of the European Union and European Integration” took place. It was joined by Jan Fahlbusch (Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Moscow), Tim Rohardt (High School of Economics and Law, Berlin), Katja Freistein (Bielefeld University), Elena Belokurova (Center for German and European Studies, St. Petersburg State University) and Maria Nozhenko (European University at St. Petersburg). It gave students the opportunity to discuss and view different possibilities about the future of the European Union by presenting their conclusions.

As a result of the feedback of the students, the School was evaluated as very successful. Based on anonymous questionnaires, the participants were very satisfied with the summer school and pleased with the venue and the organization of the event. The expectations of the students were met and they gave a highly positive feedback in the evaluation of the school. 100% of the participants were strongly satisfied with the gained insight into research methodology on European studies and 92% into research methodology in general. The evaluation of the individual professors’ presentation was between 4.6 and 5 on a 5-point scale. The average of the evaluation of the professors’ presentation was 4.8; the project presentations were evaluated as 4.8 on average. The Meeting on the Neva was evaluated as 4.7. In general, the quality of the school organization and logistics was evaluated as 4.9. Elaborating on their evaluation, participants conceded the necessity to provide even more team work and interaction activities in upcoming summer schools. All the participants were very satisfied with the informal atmosphere, which enabled open interaction between the participants and lecturers as well.