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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses


Target students

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.

Learning objectives

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.

Course Schedule

Location: City Centre Campus

Monday August 7, 2017   Arrival in Helsinki

Tuesday August 8, 2017  HSS Opening ceremony & Welcome Party (afternoon)

Wednesday August 9, 2017
9-11:  Introduction: Post-Communist Transformation (Katalin Miklóssy)
11-12 Lunch break
12-14: Competition (Katalin Miklóssy)

Thursday August 10, 2017
9-11: Transformative or Normative Power: the EU  (Suvi Kansikas)
11-12 Lunch break
12-14: EU Foreign Policy and the ‘East’ (Suvi Kansikas)

Friday August 11, 2017
9-11: Nationalism (Brendan Humphreys)
11-12 Lunch break
12-14: Corruption (Brendan Humphreys)

Monday August 14, 2017
9-11:  Populism (Emilia Palonen)
11-12 Lunch break
12-14: Media (Sigrid Kaasik-Krogerus)

Tuesday August 15, 2017
9-11:  Poverty (Jouko Nikula)
11-12 Lunch break
12-14: Roma (Anca Enache)

Wednesday August 16, 2017
9-11: Ukraine (Mark Teremae)
11-12 Lunch break
12-14: Environment (Emma Hakala)

Thursday August 17, 2017
9-11: Gender (Barbara Gawenda)
11-12 Lunch break
12-14: Minorities (Tapani Kaakkuriniemi)

Friday August 18, 2017
10-14: Exam


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