The focus of EHU’s first Transformation Studies Summer School was post-Soviet transformation in Belarus and Ukraine. Participants from Belarus, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, Tunisia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom gathered in Trakai, the former medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to analyze developments of the past two decades in Belarus and Ukraine as well as the role of Russia, both in terms of its own transformation and its impact on Belarus and Ukraine.
“Stalls, Stops, and Starts: Problems and Prospects of Contemporary Transformation” were identified and discussed, including the challenge of reforming institutions while simultaneously changing society, and dealing with entrenched domestic interests and the activities of external actors. Elite and inter-group conflict, rent-seeking, “state capture” and other ways in which short-term and narrow interests can undermine the process of state building and the development of civil society were also discussed, as was the experience of countries outside the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood like Tunisia and Germany.
The Transformation Studies Summer School is part of EHU’s new Transformation Studies Initiative. The Initiative aims to reinvigorate the study of transformations, particularly in the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood. A planned Center for Transformation Studies at EHU will provide scholarly analysis and recommendations based on the transformation experiences of various countries. New academic programs focusing on transformation are in development, as well.