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Joint German-Russian Seminar ‘Summer European Academy 2014. Quo vadis EU? Quo vadis Russland? Challenges Facing the European Union and Russia in the 21st Century’

 July 20-30, 2014

Otzenhausen, Germany

The German-Russian Summer School for BA students was organized in 2014 for the fourth time in cooperation with the ASKO Foundation and the European Academy Otzenhausen with additional financial support from the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung and Stiftung Deutsch-Russischer Jugendaustausch. Since 2011, this activity and cooperation proved to be successful and useful. Moreover, the previous experiences were taken into account, and the programme was updated according to the feedback of the students from the last year.

The target group of this Summer school basically consists of German BA and MA students and Russian BA students. The Russian students again were selected through a call for applications distributed among different faculties of St. Petersburg State University. In total, 35 applications from 7 faculties of the University (Sociology, Political Science, Economics, International Relations, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Philology, Oriental Studies) were received. As result, the 14 best applications were selected from 7 faculties. 16 German students from different disciplines came from three partner universities of Germany: Bielefeld University, Würzburg University and University of Koblenz-Landau.

The goal of the Summer School was to give the participants a better understanding of the EU and Russian politics in an international atmosphere, and to foster mutual learning from each other. The focus was on the comparison of how policies in different contexts are formulated, how politics are implemented and how political identities are built. Moreover, the mutual intercultural understanding and networking of the students was also achieved through the common group work, discussions and other interactive activities.

In the framework of the Summer School, the following topics were discussed during the lectures and workshops: European Integration History, European elections, EU Political System and Policy-Making in the EU, Democratic deficit in the EU, The EU as a global actor, EU External Policies and EU-Russian Relations, European Energy Policy, Migration Policy of the EU, Media and other producers of (local) identities in Europe, Political culture and civil society in Russia, Franco-German ‘tandem’ in the European integration. All the topics were discussed with German and Russian professors and experts and trained during the workshops.

Moreover, some important excursions were organized to European political institutions: the participants visited the office of the European Stability Mechanism in Luxemburg, the Foundation ‘Entente Franco-Allemande’ in Kehl and the Council of Europe in Strasburg. The excursions helped students to better understand the EU institutional system.

The feedback from the participants showed that the Summer School was useful and successful, and that such Summer Schools for BA students are necessary in order to give undergraduate students an early insight into Germany- and European-related issues and to motivate their further interest in this field of study. This fact, as well as a high number of good applications, showed that such type of schools is very fruitful for German and Russian undergraduates, and should be continued if possible. Since the organisation partners have also evaluated the school as very successful, the next Summer School is planned for July 2015.

Moreover, the second part of this activity with the same German-Russian groups of students – Seminar in St. Petersburg, – with the major focus on the Russian politics and its relations with Germany and the European Union is for the third time planned as continuation of this activity. Thus, the Seminar in St. Petersburg will take place in March 2015. Most of the German students expressed their wish to come to St. Petersburg; the Russian students are ready to help in the preparation of the programme for the St. Petersburg Seminar.