Challenges of Democratic Development in Eastern Europe
University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute
The course is designed for advanced undergraduates or Master’s level students of humanities and social sciences.
This course offers an overview of the current challenges of social and political development in Eastern Europe. Taught by a group of area studies experts in history, political science, media studies and sociology, the course views Eastern Europe as including the former Eastern Bloc countries. These encompass the Baltic states, East Central and Southeastern Europe, the Balkans and Ukraine. Russia is discussed only as a reference point to the area of our concern: there won’t be any specific lectures on Russian developments.
The course provides students with new, multidisciplinary approaches to the study of politics and society with a focus on issues that hinder democratic conduct. Addressed will be questions of nationalism, migration, youth, corruption, authoritarian rule, role of the media, poverty, gender, the Roma situation, entrepreneurialism, competition, civil society and environmental problems. In order to get a better grasp of Eastern European challenges in today’s globalised world, the course offers insights into recent history and post-communist transition.
The students will gain a broad overview of current societal and political developments in the region. The purpose is also to discuss critically the concept of democracy, which is sometimes understood normatively. The students will be acquainted with new multidisciplinary approaches and innovative pedagogical methods to understand the complexity of politics and society in this area. The course will also provide supplemental information for students looking to specialise in subjects and fields of research covered by the course. The students will also learn more about ongoing cutting-edge research projects carried out at the University of Helsinki.
Course format and teaching methods
The course entails a total of 32 hours of teaching with various activating learning formats, such as lectures, flipped classroom, debates and small workshops. We apply new methods that promote critical thinking and discursivity. Every lecture includes mandatory pre-reading, and the class format will contain a 45-minute lecture and a 45-minute workshop. The syllabus with course readings will be disseminated to students before the course begins.
Means and criteria of assessment
Attendance, course readings and final essay/exam. Grading is based on attendance, participation in discussions and completion of the required assignments and the final exam. Grading scale: 5 = excellent 4 = very good 3 = good 2 = average 1 = poor 0 = fail.