Natolin Study Trip Week: "Challenges at the Borders"

From 5 to 13 March 2016, the Natolin (Warsaw) campus of the College of Europe organized three tailor-made study trips for the Natolin students of the Chopin Promotion 2015/2016. This year's Natolin Study Trip Week was constructed under the overarching theme "Challenges at the Borders: Exploring Democracy, Statehood, Citizenship and Migration in South Central Europe and the Eastern European Neighbourhood". These trips were organized in cooperation with the two Academic Chairs present at the Natolin campus, the European Neighbourhood Policy Chair and the European Civilization Chair, contributing to their highest academic standard. The daily academic activities during the study trips could be followed on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.


The purpose of these study trips was to allow students to acquire first-hand experience in European and European Neighbourhood countries. In order to prepare students academically for this experience, conferences, debates and workshops were organized with academics and experts, before departure. During the Study Trip Week, students met with academic experts, journalists, politicians, representatives of the intellectual, cultural and business circles, as well as with EU representatives. Many students used the study trips to develop their academic interests in the context of their coursework throughout the year and/or the Master’s thesis.


Study Trip Week to Greece, Serbia and Hungary (6-12 March 2016)

The academic programme of this study trip took place in the three capitals: Athens, Belgrade and Budapest. The overarching theme of the visit was captured under the title of "Remapping Democracy amid the challenges of Migration, Governance and Geopolitics". To make the most of the specific outstanding expertise available in each of the three cities, the study trip was structured around specific academic aims:

  • Confront the migration crisis from multiple perspectives, including that of two of the main points of entrance to the EU – Greece and Hungary, as well as that of a non-EU transit country – Serbia;
  • Debate potential ways to reconcile governance in the EU with the democratic will of each Member State, particularly in the context of multiple crises faced by the Union;
  • Discover the historical and cultural heritage of the region that was both the cradle of Europe and European democratic traditions, as well as its periphery located at the intersection of European and non-European empires;
  • Understand how geopolitical concerns influence the foreign policies of the three major South-Eastern European countries;
  • Acquire a comprehensive understanding of Serbia; its history, its political and economic developments since the end of the Yugoslav Wars, its engagement with the European Union and its broader foreign policy objectives.


Study Trip Week to Georgia and Armenia (5-12 March 2016)

The theme of this year’s study trip to the South Caucasus was "Armenia, Georgia and Statehood in the South Caucasus". This theme allowed us to address issues related to political transition, democratic institution building, political culture, political parties, constitutionalism, and state-society relations. Also, discussing statehood in these two EU neighbourhood partner countries was closely and invariably linked to concerns about sovereignty, domestic and regional security, geopolitical positioning, relations with influential neighbors, and the role of the EU and Russia. Thus, this study trip provided students with an opportunity to:

  • Explore Armenia’s and Georgia’s distinct national cultures, history, legacies and traditions;
  • Learn and comprehend better Armenia’s and Georgia’s struggle for modern democratic statehood and fully functioning, transparent and accountable state institutions;
  • Understand issues of state-society relations, political culture, governance, human rights and rule of law;
  • Examine (protracted) regional conflicts and the politics of external intervention/engagement in the South Caucasus;
  • Acquire knowledge with respect to the politics of energy security, foreign policy and geopolitical positioning.


Study Trip Week to Ukraine (6-13 March 2016)

By the theme "European Citizenship – European Civilization", this voyage took the students through Odessa, Kyiv and L’viv, three cities with a strong identity, all showing another aspect of the rich and varied character of Ukrainian society and culture. The aim of this study trip was to give students a hands-on perspective on Ukrainian recent evolution through an analysis of its history, politics, international relations and reform process.

  • In the multicultural city of Odessa, also Ukraine’s largest port, conferences and meetings focused on security and geopolitical issues;
  • In Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, meetings with representatives of the Ukrainian government and the European Union were dedicated to Ukraine’s European path. Moreover, students had the opportunity to study the evolutions of Ukrainian society and the influence of media and information in the current conflict with Russia at conferences with experts in the field; 
  • In Lviv, we focused on the rich but often bloody history of the city and the region, which continues to shape the present. A series of conferences examined the legacies of the Kingdom and the Second Republic of Poland, in Habsburg Galicia, and in two World Wars, as well as the problems of conflicting historical memory both among Ukrainians themselves, and between Ukrainians and Poles, Jews and Russians.