Open letter: we need a new university for Eastern Europe


The key to success is dealing directly with honest people from Belarus, Russia and other eastern neighbors. The European Convention on Human Rights (signed by Russia, but not by Belarus) defines the rights and dignity of these people; the Eastern Partnership (which includes Belarus, but not Russia) cites “engagement with civil society… and investment in people and society” among its main goals. Unfortunately, these tasks are not implemented in practice. Now more than ever, it is clear that promoting the education, health and mobility of citizens of neighboring states is a crucial element of European stability.

As the number of people innocently arrested and tortured grows at an appalling rate, we urge our political leaders to move beyond expressions of solidarity. Sanctions can make a difference, but they target regimes and individuals while leaving citizens indifferent or even causing them to suffer.

In the current situation, we urge you to reallocate some of the frozen EU aid to supporting civil society, education and mobility. We need generous policies and funds for visas, grants and scholarships, for academic, therapeutic and humanitarian visits. We must be ambitious and creative in establishing new avenues for citizen diplomacy, new institutions for joint education and greater opportunities for productive work. Shocked by the atrocities of the Belarusian regime, by the continued Russian occupation of parts of Ukraine, by the signs of de-modernization in Russia, we must react by making our borders more hospitable and our borders more prolific. We must create opportunities for young people in Russia, Belarus and other authoritarian countries. We need to create glimmers of hope for the next generation.

Building on the successful experience of transnational higher education institutions such as the European University Institute, Central European University, European University Viadrina Frankfurt, European University of Humanities, College of ‘Europe and CIVICA (an alliance of eight European universities in the social sciences), we need to create a new university in Eastern Europe located in one of the EU Member States.

We, the undersigned academics, welcome public and private initiatives aimed at funding and hosting such a higher education institution. It will provide new opportunities for those who have been made redundant, repressed and forced to leave their homes, as well as those who wish to learn and study to high European standards. We will devote our intellectual resources, our experience and our leadership to the creation of such a university.

Ellen Rutten, Slavic & Cultural Studies, University of Amsterdam

Alexander Etkind, history, European University Institute, Florence

Jan Claas Behrends, history, Leibniz-Center for Contemporary History (ZZF), Potsdam & Viadrina University, Frankfurt-on-Oder, Germany

Ernst van Alphen, Literary Studies, University of Leiden

Alexander Astrov, international relations, CEU Vienna

Mieke Bal, cultural analysis, University of Amsterdam

Dorothee Bohle, political science, European University Institute and University of Vienna

Judith Butler, Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley

Dmitrii Bykov, writer, Moscow

Wolfgang Eichwede, History, Research Center for Eastern European Studies, University of Bremen

Sergei Erofeev, sociology, Rutgers University, United States

Nancy Fraser, Philosophy, New School for Social Research, New York

Juliane Fürst, history, Leibniz-Center for Contemporary History (ZZF), Potsdam, Germany

Masha Gessen, Writer Emeritus in Residence, Bard College USA

Simon Goldhill, Classical Studies, University of Cambridge

Leonid Gozman, psychology, Free University, Moscow

Boris Groys, Philosophy, New York University

Sergei Guriev, economics, Institutes of Political Studies / Sciences Po, Paris

Gasan Gusejnov, philology, Free University, Moscow

Marianne Hirsch, comparative literature, Columbia University, New York

Eva Illouz, sociology & communication, Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design, Jerusalem

Lola Kantor-Kazovsky, Art History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Michael Kemper, Eastern European Studies, University of Amsterdam

Ulrike Kistner, Philosophy, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Leszek Koczanowicz, Philosophy, SWPS University of Social and Human Sciences, Wrocław

Pavel Kolar, history, University of Constance

Ivan Krastev, political science, Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna

Geert Lovink, Cultural and Media Studies, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Networked Cultures, Amsterdam

Edward Lucas, journalist, Center for European Policy Analysis, London

Ingunn Lunde, Linguistics, University of Bergen, Norway

Luciano Mecacci, Psychology and History, University of Florence

Mikhail Minakov, Philosophy, Kennan Institute, Washington DC & Journal Ideology & Politics, Kiev

Aleksandr Morozov, journalist, co-director of the Boris Nemtsov Academic Center for the Study of Russia, Moscow & Charles University, Prague

Susan Neiman, Philosophy, Einstein Forum, Potsdam, Germany

Elena Nemirovskaya, political science, School of Civic Enlightenment, Riga

Zhanna Nemtsova, journalist, co-director of the Boris Nemtsov Academic Center for the Study of Russia, Moscow

Joy Neumeyer, history, European University Institute, Florence

Andrzej Nowak, history, Jagiellonian University, Krakow

Julia Obertreis, Universität Nürnberg-Erlangen, Germany

Luisa Passerini, history, University of Milan

Andrea Petö, Central European University, Vienna

Kevin Platt, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Humanities, University of Pennsylvania

Serhii Plokhii, History, Harvard University

Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Kennan Institute at Wilson Center, Washington DC

Elizabeth Roosevelt Moore, Cultural Studies, University of Cambridge

Lev Rubinstein, writer, Moscow

Manfred Sapper, Osteuropa review, Berlin

Saskia Sassen, sociology, Columbia University, New York

Jos Schaeken, Slavic Studies and Linguistics, University of Leiden

Yurii Senokosov, political science, School of Civic Enlightenment, Riga

Timothy Snyder, History, Yale University

Olga Tokarczuk, writer and Nobel Laureate, Krajanow, Poland

Jay Winter, History, Yale University

Eli Zaretsky, history, New School for Social Research, New York

Boris Zilber, Mathematics, University of Oxford

Slavoj Žižek, philosophy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia


About Leslie Schwartz

Check Also

Three Definitive Trends to Fuel the Philosophy of Diamond Jewelry in 2022

By: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe New Delhi, May 13 (IANSlife): “The memory of a piece …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.