Conflicts and crises in Eastern Europe
Lecturer(s) Alicja Curanović
Course descriptionThe main objective of the module is to present the complexity of the main challenges to the regional security of Eastern Europe. The region’s contemporary dynamics are analysed from the historic, socio-political, cultural and geopolitical perspectives. Recently solved (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo) as well as still frozen conflicts (e.g. Transnistria, Gorny Karabakh) are in focus of the module. The prospects for regional stability are evaluated with account of the existing tinderboxes (e.g). The aim of the module is to acquire knowledge and improve skills for regional expertise – crucial for organising humanitarian action in Eastern Europe.
Main themes1. Eastern, Central or Central-Eastern Europe: attempts to define the region
2. The legacy of the past in Central Europe: geopolitical dynamics of the region in the historic perspective
3. Central Europe in the post-Yalta global order
4. The fall of Yugoslavia: from the independence of Slovenia to the secession of Kosovo
5. The sources of instability in the peripheries: the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and Albania
6. The crumbs of a fallen empire: Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, the Russo-Georgian war (2008)
7. The harbinger of the new global order? The conflict in Ukraine
8. Looking for tinderboxes: the main challenges to the regional stability
9. Negotiations: the core concepts
10. Determinants of negotiations: psychology, ideology, culture (styles of negotiations)
11. Strategies, tactics, techniques of negotiations.
12. Simulation of negotiations: the case of Nagorno-Karabakh
Learning outcomesIn conformity with the learning outcomes set out by the NOHA network, students should achieve the following learning outcomes by the end of this module:
- specialised knowledge about genesis, dynamics and resolutions of conflicts in the region of Eastern Europe
- a critical understanding of incentives for tensions as well as cooperation in Eastern Europe. Has innovative expertise on current problems and challenges to the security in the region
- a thorough knowledge of historical, political, cultural and economical background of the processes in Eastern Europe
- ability to interpret and critically analyse data, information and experience concerning Eastern Europe. Shows high skills to contextualize the obtained data. Has demonstrated a range of coaching and management skills to carefully assess the relevant factors for crisis and conflicts
- ability to formulate independent views in regard to Eastern Europe, support them with elaborate arguments, using a broad range of approaches and theoretical perspectives, formulate coherent conclusions and make a synthetic summary of these conclusions
- specialised problem-solving skills combining interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of the complexity of the situation of crisis-affected people in Eastern Europe
Teaching and learning methodologyThe programme of the module is divided into four stages. Stage I consists of weeks 1-3 which are introductory lectures on the historical dynamics of the region. This stage is concluded with a student task Symbols sometimes mean more than words. Each student is to choose a particular text of culture (a film, book, painting, poster etc. ) which, in his/her opinion reflects well the characteristics features of Eastern/Central Europe. Each student prepares a max 7-minute long presentation.
Stage II (weeks 4-8) includes the analysis of conflicts which have taken place since the end of the cold war. Student task: in this stage each student chooses one conflict and prepares a presentation (oral form) on this particular case in accordance with the following scheme:
- time frame of the conflict
- genesis of the conflict
- final settlement or – in absence of such – a potential settlement of the conflict
Max. 30-minute long presentation
Week 8 assumes discussing still existing potential for crises and conflicts in the region. This class will be organised as a student debate.
Stage III (weeks 9-11) combines theory with practices. Weeks 9-11 are dedicated to introductory lectures on basics of international negotiations. During Week 12 students put their knowledge into practice and conduct simulations (under the coordinator’s supervision) of negotiations of one of the previously analysed conflicts (Nagorno-Karabakh). This exercise is the final preparation for the exam.
Stage IV (week 13): Students take an exam which will have a form of negotiations. Students are divided into 2-4 parties (e.g. the Ukrainian government, Donetsk separatists, Russia, EU, US) and negotiate the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. The coordinator has a passive role during the exam, i.e. observes and evaluates performance of students.
Assessment methods and criteriaThe fundamental condition of receiving a graded pass is the presence during classes. Student has a right to be absent twice and only during these weeks when she/he does not perform a presentation (!).
During the course students are expected to prepare 4 different tasks, differing in form and difficulty:
- presenting a text of culture (10%)
- presentation of the analysis of a particular conflict (30%)
- participation in a debate (10%)
By being active (covering compulsory readings , asking questions, comments, participating in discussions) during classes a student can increase his final mark by 10%
Overall point from the tasks: 50%
System of grades:
55 % - 3 (pass)
75 % - 4 (good)
90 % - 5 (very good)
While assessing the overall performance of a student, the coordinator takes into account the number of absences, activity during classes (preparing compulsory readings) and the performance in tasks. Since the exam has a specific form of staged negotiations, it is strongly recommended to collect as much as possible points during the semester. However, the points collected during the course will not be taken into account, should the student not take part in the exam.
Last updated: 3 October 2017