New Intellectual Themes Initiative projects with faculty members of the Department of Political Science

August 24, 2017

We are pleased to announce that the three new projects that the Selection Committee of the university-wide Intellectual Themes Initiative decided to support in its fourth round all include faculty members of the department.

We proudly congratulate Anil Duman, Judit Sándor, Zsolt Enyedi, Levente Littvay and Andres Moles as well as the teams of the newly selected projects and wish them lot of success in the implementation.

Comparative Populism

Project team
Erin K. Jenne (project leader) / Department of International Relations
Balazs Vedres / Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology
Constantin Iordachi / Department of History
Elissa Helms / Department of Gender Studies
Judit Sandor / Department of Legal Studies and Department of Political Science
Levente Littvay / Department of Political Science
Nick Sitter / School of Public Policy
Zsolt Enyedi / Department of Political Science

Project description
This project brings together CEU and international scholars working on topics related to populism across different disciplinary traditions. The aim is to build up a comparative database on countries across Europe on the varieties of populist politics and policies across the region from the end of the Cold War to present and to explore the connections between populism on the one hand and gender, law, foreign policy, and party politics on the other. By joining the different methodological skills and perspectives across the different academic units, the project team can arrive at a multi-faceted understanding of why populism manifests more strongly in some countries than others in the same region, why it takes on social conservative dimension in some places and more nationalist/nativist dimension in others, and how all of this connects to gender, the law, foreign policy, public administration and party systems. CEU’s international student body provides a basis for recruiting social scientists who can help understand populism in their own countries and political contexts. The project will mainly focus on the countries of contemporary Eastern and Central Europe, but will expand the scope of the investigation in thee ways. First, it will extend its gaze backward to the interwar period (including connections between populism and fascism). It will also extend its focus beyond the region to a selection of countries notable for populist politics, such as Venezuela, Brazil, the US and the UK in order to arrive at more generalizable conclusions about the function of populism in public policy, party politics, public administration, the law and foreign policy. Finally, it involves a media analysis in a selection of Balkan countries to investigate the ways in which the recent refugee crisis has been gendered and sexualized to promote nationalist-populist narratives and policies in these countries.

Text Analysis Across Disciplines

Project team
Tijana Krstić (project leader) / Department of Medieval Studies
Jessie Labov / Center for Media, Data and Society
Levente Littvay / Department of Political Science
Marcell Sebők / Department of Medieval Studies

Project description
Text analysis can mean different things to different audiences: from close reading of literary texts, to critical reflections on historical sources, to the computational analysis of big data using text mining techniques. The project seek to forge a continuum among these diverse disciplinary approaches to text analysis: from the analog to the digital, from the historical to the contemporary, from pure research to public outreach. This project has grown out of the work of the Digital Humanities Initiative (DHI), an 18-month exploratory project funded by the Humanities Initiative. After surveying the CEU community and spending the 2016-2017 year consulting with faculty, staff, and students in virtually every department and program on campus, the project team has identified text analysis as the one area of digital research which is much in demand, but critically absent from CEU’s curricula and research profile. Therefore, the project will offer courses, master classes, project incubation, and several public events to demonstrate the crucial role of text analysis in ‘small,’ ‘medium’ and ‘big data’ research. In order to introduce the techniques and methodologies specific to text analysis at CEU, the team will draw on working partnerships that the DHI has established with several Hungarian institutions (ELTE, the Petofi Literary Museum, and the Institute for Literary Studies and the Institute for Historical Research at the Academy of Sciences), as well as the European-wide DARIAH network. The primary goals for the TANAD project is to successfully establish 2 university-wide courses and several grant-worthy projects which bridge the work of the “Just Data” initiative with ongoing text-based research in departments and programs across the university.

Cross-departmental course: Economic inequality: Interdisciplinary perspectives

Project team
Thomas Fetzer (project leader) / Department of International Relations
Achim Kemmerling / School of Public Policy
Andres Moles / Department of Political Science
Anil Duman / Department of Political Science
Eva Fodor / Department of Gender Studies
Helga Dorner / Center for Teaching and Learning
Martin Kahanec / School of Public Policy
Violetta Zentai / Center for Policy Studies

Project description
Economic inequality is increasingly recognized as a pressing social and political issue. At the same time, academic research on economic inequality is highly fragmented and discipline-specific. Economists and political scientists are primarily interested in patterns of class inequality within countries, while international relations scholars focus on the determinants and consequences of economic inequality between countries. Other dimensions of economic inequality (e.g. gender, ethnicity) are studied by sociologists and anthropologists. Disciplinary differences are reinforced by different conceptual understandings (inequality of opportunity vs. inequality of outcomes) and methodologies (quantitative vs. qualitative). At CEU, reflecting this broader pattern, colleagues from various departments have been involved in research and teaching economic inequality from various perspectives, which, however, have so far rarely been brought together. This is the rationale for a new cross-departmental course on economic inequality, to be test-run during AY 2018/19.

The course is planned to contain three main parts. In part I, faculty members will give introductory lectures about discipline-specific approaches to economic inequality (political theory, economics, political science, international relations, sociology, gender studies). In part II, disciplinary perspectives will be brought into dialogue with each other, as two or three faculty members will team up to co-teach single sessions on specific themes (e.g. labour market discrimination, economic inequality and intergenerational mobility, economic inequality and violence). In part III, enrolled students will be divided into smaller groups with 3-4 members, and each group will explore a particular inequality-related issue with relevance for current public policy debates (e.g. capital taxation, labour market transparency, fair trade).

The project team expect the course to strengthen cross-departmental teaching collaboration - if successful, the course could be built into the regular curricula of the related master programs – as well as CEU’s reputation as a centre of academic work on social justice and inequality.

Intellectual Themes Initiative

Launched in 2015, the ITI aims to promote exploring and developing new activities that encourage cross-disciplinary teaching and research, prompt new forms of civic engagement, enhance the academic profile of CEU, and contribute to shaping of its future institutional direction. The initiative supports projects across four cross-cutting intellectual themes, currently they are: Energy and Society, Governance, Inequalities and Social Justice, and Social Mind.

For more information on the initiative please visit the website