Scaling up research collaboration to European dimensions through CIVICA Research
Professor Andrei Țăranu, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, SNSPA, met with Hertie School representatives in Berlin this past December to strengthen the research links between the two established members of CIVICA and discuss the new opportunities offered by CIVICA Research.
Topics on the agenda included subjects of common interest, such as the phenomenon of intra- and extra-EU migration, as well as democratisation processes and pressure groups in Central and Eastern Europe.
What was the goal of your visit to the Hertie School?
Let me start by saying that the Hertie School in Berlin is one of the most prestigious institutions of research and education in political science in Europe. The purpose of my visit was to deepen institutional ties and identify how SNSPA can develop at the European level, given the CIVICA partnerships.
I am grateful to our partners for the warm and friendly welcome. The meeting resulted in many more possibilities for developing the relationship between our universities than I had initially imagined!
What areas of collaboration did you tackle?
To a large extent, scientific research was the area we focused on. Although the Hertie School operates in a different university environment than SNSPA, we have identified research topics where our interests complement each other.
Can you give some examples of such topics?
There are many elements related to the specifics of Central and Eastern Europe, such as democratisation or pressure groups, which are less familiar to the Germanic space.
SNSPA professors are conducting scientific investigations into migratory pressure in EU member states, which the Hertie School, in particular, would like to understand more. The migratory pressure is not only extra-EU but also intra-EU.
At the same time, Romania is one of the sources of intra-EU migration, and this may be a common research topic for the two institutions. Hertie School is firmly anchored in taxonomic studies, i.e., international economics, public policy, and international security. Still, its research examines less the anthropological and sociological dimensions of the migration phenomenon.
Here we can help: we still have researchers who do behavioural studies and anthropological analysis. SNSPA has an outstanding school developed by the late Professor Vintilă Mihăilescu (1951-2020) for analysing social groups that are either vulnerable or too mobile.
What needs to happen for these research ideas to materialise?
This year (2022), a colleague from the Hertie School will visit us to better understand the opportunities for research and education in this bilateral and, equally, community relationship within CIVICA.
Moreover, research deserves to be conducted and valued not only bilaterally. That is, not only in the case of the two countries, Romania and Germany, but in a broader context. We can include for example information on Italy and the Baltic States and develop an analysis at a larger European scale. If we just research the Romanian communities that migrate circularly, working only with Germany will not be enough to develop European policies to regulate the situation. Still, we can start from a research project and policy brief at CIVICA alliance level and impact the European Commission's level.
As far as I understand, you have managed to identify research as an area that could bring not only the Hertie School closer to SNSPA, but all CIVICA partner institutions. Can you give an example of a practical benefit for students?
As CIVICA partners, we can pool our educational and research expertise for the benefit of students. For example, with the Hertie School we could jointly develop master's programmes that SNSPA does not have ─ for example, in international economics or economic security. Such an educational barter is not only possible, but expected by both parties.
Returning to the possibilities presented by the scientific research activity, CIVICA Research has established four focus areas. Can you illustrate the contribution of SNSPA in general and the Faculty of Political Science in particular?
Regarding the focus area Societies in Transition, Crises of Earth, not only do we have relevant expertise at SNSPA, but we are also a case study. Romanian society has been in transition for almost a century. Therefore, we can be an important revealer for other countries as the European society as a whole is affected by extreme crises - a crisis of confidence and pandemic crises, such as the Covid one. So, our expertise in this direction, I think, is instrumental.
The Faculty of Political Science at SNSPA, which I lead to some extent, has an intrinsic quality that few other similar higher education institutions in Europe have: we have integrated political science with sociology. In other words, we conduct social analysis that feeds into both political and behavioural studies. We can provide, at least in the short term, recommendations on specific social corrections and coherent public policies that governments could implement.
These things are possible because we have had, for almost two decades, the ability to make social measurements, that is, to observe what social groups think about a particular policy. In this sense, I recall the "Social Mapping of Bucharest" research conducted under the guidance of Prof. Alfred Bulai, but also other studies by our faculty, which have proven their usefulness in the medium and long term. Our experience in this field has been qualitatively applied by the Romanian government and some European structures.
All this converges to the need of intensifying collaborations between the Hertie School and SNSPA, since research and teaching activities outline a common area of interest.
We all, each one of us, have a lot to offer to a Europe that has become quite anxious!
SNSPA Professor Andrei Țăranu's various areas of interest and expertise include political doctrines, political parties, political ideologies, programmes, contemporary political theories.
CIVICA Research brings together researchers from eight leading European universities in the social sciences to contribute knowledge and solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. The project aims to strengthen the research & innovation pillar of the European University alliance CIVICA. CIVICA Research is co-funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. To stay up to date with CIVICA Research developments and opportunities, subscribe to the newsletter.
Interview conducted by Catalin Mosoia (SNSPA)