Transition Studies Network_old article

The Transition Studies Network connects academic institutions from the Nordic countries, the Baltic states, North West Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. It was initiated by the EuroCollege at the University of Tartu in cooperation with Nordic Council of Ministers. The network was launched in the framework of NORDPLUS Neighbour educational cooperation programme in 2004-2008. Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Development Cooperation project (2007-2010) supported extending partnerships with new target countries including Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Nordplus Framework Higher Education Programme supports advancement of Nordic-Baltic regional consortium in 2008-2010. History

The Network started from the academic cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. In September 2004 the EuroCollege at the University of Tartu initiated the Nordic-Baltic-Russian network Understanding Societal Change: Developing a Regional Network of Transition Studies program (short: Network Transition Studies). It was coordinated by the EuroCollege and supported by NORDPLUS Neighbour, the Nordic Council of Ministers' exchange educational action program. The Network coordinator was Eva-Clarita Onken (2004-2006). The Network worked successfully two and half years and gained experienced opened new ideas to enlarge the network activities to the European Neighbourhood and to participate in the development cooperation. Therefore in May 2007 the EuroCollege launched a new project to integrate academic institutions from Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia into the existing Network activities. Since 2008 autumn the Baltic-Nordic partnerships are developed in the framework of Nordplus Framework Higher Education Program. Since autumn 2006 the Network coordinator is Heiko Pääbo.

Rationale of the Network

Over the last decade, Russia, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states have undergone and continue to undergo far-reaching societal transitions. The common starting point was to move from command economies and one-party systems to market-based, democratic models of society and politics. Enough time has gone by now to allow us to engage in a meaningful comparison of the transition experiences of these regions, and distill "lessons learned" so that models of transitions can be developed. Some countries have been more successful, some are less successful in managing with the transition reforms. Comparing different experiences helps the countries, which are currently struggling with transition challenges. The Network offers excellent opportunity to learn about the transition experiences from the different transition countries. This work can be best carried out through regional cooperation in developing research and teaching programs devoted to transition studies.

In 2004-2005 the EuroCollege developed a full year curriculum teaching transition studies at the graduate level on an interdisciplinary basis. The Prometheus program provided a variety of perspectives on the experiences in the region from the end of the war to the present, and was an excellent starting point for comparing approaches to teaching and model building in this field (the "Tartu Model"). Based upon the experiences of Prometheus the EuroCollege developed and launched a new full-time graduate MA programm on European Union - Russian Studies (EURUS). The above program combines political science, economics, law, history, linguistics and cultural studies. The integrated programme binds together the study of two main regions - Europe and Russia - in one coherent curriculum, providing a comprehensive understanding of political, social, and economic developments in the EU and its member states as well as in Russia and its neighbouring transition countries.

Our aim

The aim of the Network is to create an academic network of Nordic, Baltic, Russian, Ukrainian, Moldovian and Georgian universities for the purpose of strengthening research and teaching in the field of Transition Studies. Because of the central importance of making a successful transition, understanding the changes that have occurred in the region over the past two decades are of fundamental importance to any social science program in the region. Other countries outside the region are also interested in the lessons from the post-communist transition experience. A systematic, comparative study of transition processes in Eastern Europe, the Baltics, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia allows us to comprehend the past, understand the current realities, and to manage change in the future. It allows us to identify factors that influence transition outcomes. The activities of the Network are, therefore, designed to promote an inter-university transfer of knowledge in this field. The project promotes the creation of new transition-related courses, as well as the integration of transition themes in existing courses and curriculums.

The Network:
  • promotes quality assurance of education through strengthening interdisciplinary teaching and research in the field of transition studies and creating premises for a mutual knowledge transfer;
  • promotes the creation of new transition-related courses, as well as the integration of transition themes in existing courses and curricula;
  • contributes to policy reform in the region through producing systematic, usable knowledge about transition processes and factors that influence reform outcomes;
  • strengthens regional cooperation and bilateral relations through academic and educational exchange;
  • contributes to the internationalization of universities in the region.
The partners in the Network Transition Studies are:

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