The primary goal of the Annual Joint German-Russian Academy is to give its participants a better understanding of the European and Russian politics in an international atmosphere and mutual learning from each other. The Academy consists of two parts - Summer European Academy in Otzenhausen, and Russian Spring Academy. The Academy targets German BA and MA students from partner universities such as Bielefeld University, Wuerzburg University, Hochschule Rhein-Waal, and University of Koblenz-Landau . Russian BA students are selected through a call for applications distributed among the faculties of humanities and social sciences of St. Petersburg University.
The Academy is being organized by the Centre for German and European Studies since 2011 in cooperation with ASKO Foundation and the European Academy Otzenhausen, with additional financial support from Stiftung Deutsch-Russischer Jugendaustausch, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/Federal Agency for Civic Education, and different German foundations and governmental organisations through the years.
The focus of the Summer European Academy is on how policies in Russia and Europe are formulated, how politics are implemented and how political identities are built. During lectures and workshops, participants discuss with German professors and experts such topics as European integration history, integration and identity, history of international and interregional cooperation, EU political system and policy-making in the EU, as well as EU external policies and EU-Russian relations, European energy and climate policy, and WTO functioning. During the Academy, participants visit European political institutions such as the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Such excursions contribute to a better understanding of the EU and European institutional system.
More information on the previous editions of the Summer Academy can be found via these links:
- 2011: ‘Encounter Europe and Russia: An Introduction to the Cultural, Political and Security Issues Shaping the EU and Its Relations to Russia’
- 2012: ‘Encounter Europe and Russia: An Introduction to the Cultural, Political and Security Issues Shaping the EU and Its Relations to Russia’
- 2013: ‘Encounter Europe and Russia: An Introduction to the Cultural, Political and Security Issues Shaping the EU and Its Relations to Russia’
- 2014: ‘Quo vadis EU? Quo vadis Russland? Challenges Facing the European Union and Russia in the 21st Century’
- 2015: ‘How to Move on? Challenges Facing the European Union and Its Relation with Russia’
- 2016: ‘What follows on 70 years of peace? Mutual understanding and mutual trust—basis for a joint future EU/Germany and Russia’
- 2017: ‘Learning from the Past – For the Future’
- 2018: ‘Postelections, in a Different World. EU/Germany and Russia: Returning to Better Times?’
- 2019: ‘So, the World Cup was a Success. Friends again, please?’
- 2021: ‘Peace is not a state of nature. EU-Russia: Common Values, Common Future?’
The second part of the Annual Joint German-Russian Academy – Russian Spring Academy – takes place in St. Petersburg. The Academy has been organized by the Centre for German and European Studies and the European Academy Otzenhausen since 2013.
The first Spring Academy in St. Petersburg, dedicated mainly to Russian politics and society, was held in continuation of the European Summer Academy in 2012 and was devoted to politics in Germany and the European Union and their relations with Russia.
Spring Academy is generally joined by the same participants who take part in the Summer Academy in Otzenhausen. As a rule, students assist in organizing the Academy, especially logistics and an entertainment programme. This stimulates intense communication between German and Russian students and helps both sides to learn a lot from each other through their cross-cultural interaction.
During lectures and workshops, participants usually discuss such topics as Russian history, the Russian economy and economic cooperation between Russia and Germany, Russian foreign policy and its relations with the EU and Germany, environmental policies and cross-border cooperation in Russia, Russian arts and culture, social problems and migration.
The programme of the Spring Academy consists of lectures delivered by professors of St. Petersburg University, interactive training, and teamwork as well as meetings with Russian young activists and politicians. In addition, a range of excursions to relevant organizations in St. Petersburg is organized. Over the years, participants visited the German-Russian Foreign Trade House, the Office of the Trade House of Hamburg, the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, St. Petersburg ‘Vodokanal’ Water Treatment Plant and the Water Museum, Russian Museum, and other institutions. Also, public discussions attended by the wider public take place as a part of the Academy.
Information about the previous Russian Spring Academies can be found via these links:
- 2013: ‘Encounter Europe and Russia. An Introduction to the Cultural, Political and Social Situation in Russia and Its Relations to the EU’
- 2014: ‘Russia Live! Politics – Economy – History – Culture’
- 2015: ‘Russia Live! Policy – Economy – History – Culture’
- 2016: ‘Understanding Russia: Building mutual trust for a common future and partnership’
- 2017: ‘Understanding Russia: Building Mutual Trust for a Common Future and Partnership'
- 2018: ‘To Learn from the Past for the Future: Memory Culture in Germany/EU and Russia and Common Challenges for Both Sides’
- 2019: ‘Post-elections, in a Different World… Germany/EU and Russia: Return to Better Times?’
- 2020: ‘Russia belongs to the Council of Europe — Russia belongs to Europe’
Participants throughout the years share their impressions:
Marina Samolyuk, alumna of the Faculty of International Relations, St. Petersburg University: “Along with the unique opportunity of visiting the institutes of Europe and the European Union, of meeting students and teachers from another country, as well as of enjoying incredible landscapes, the most important component of the program was an open and honest dialogue about the state of relations between Russia and the European Union and, in particular, with Germany. The discussion, in which each participant could share their knowledge, opinions, and even emotions, demonstrated the need to learn to listen and understand each other."
Alexander Bykov, Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg University: “Participation in the Summer European Academy in 2019 marked a turning point in my life. Not only did the Academy give me an opportunity to take a fresh look at many socio-political problems in Russia and the EU, it also allowed me to discuss these problems, how to solve them, and share my opinion with German and Belgian participants. My research interests include international conflicts, so participation in the Academy was especially important for expanding my scientific horizons. Communication with teachers of German and Russian universities, journalists and other participants of the Academy was possible not only at the seminars and lectures, but also apart from them. This informal nature of the participants ' interaction allowed me and other Russian students to establish interesting connections and even strong friendships with German and Belgian students who participated in the Academy. During the Academy, we were able to visit various European institutions in such cities as Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Saarbrücken, and Trier. I especially remember a visit to the Council of Europe. Unfortunately, in 2021, due to pandemic restrictions in Europe, offline Academy is unlikely. However, I can assure everyone that participation in the Academy will be unforgettable for you in any format."
Elizaveta Belkina, alumna of the Faculty of International Relations, St. Petersburg University: “This was not my first experience of participating in international summer schools, but I would like to highlight a few things. First, the event was perfectly arranged. Everything was well-organized, from assistance on various issues including housing, transport, and visa to the Academy itself — we lived in an amazing campus with an awesome educational infrastructure, and in his spare time trips to Luxembourg, Schengen, Saarbrücken, Strasbourg were held for the students. Secondly, the topics of the lectures. We mainly talked about the European Union and its relations with Russia. It's great that there were participants from different countries such as Russia, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and thanks to working in small teams, we could all get to know each other better and to hear others' views. And finally, it was very interesting for me personally to participate in a panel discussion in German. It was difficult and very exciting, but now I understand what an important and useful experience it was. And it's also worth noting that we had an incredible team. I still communicate with almost all the members of the Russian group.”