Establishing a Research Centre
By Mariano Barbato, Lecturer at the University of Passau, Germany (Max Weber Fellow in the SPS Department, 2007-2008)
Coming to the Babes Bolyai University (BBU) in Cluj-Napoca/Romania as a lecturer for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), I was invited to establish a new interdisciplinary research centre aimed particularly at the university’s German-speaking community, and with an ambition to establish a centre of excellence in the region.
The ZEWI (Zentrum für Europawissenschaften und Internationale Beziehungen) promotes German as a language in higher education and academic research. As one of its main aims the centre seeks to foster the academic excellence of PhD students and Post-docs with research interests in European Integration and world politics. It brings together senior and junior Fellows and also invites visiting Fellows. Currently, ZEWI has twelve Fellows. The centre also encourages promising students and pupils in their choice of studying in German, and to participate early on in activities of the centre. The objective is to enhance and support German-speaking research in South East Europe and to foster the already strong reputation of the BBU in this respect.
The BBU is, with around 50,000 students, the largest university in Romania. It is one of the country’s top-ranking universities and offers a uniquely multicultural environment for learning and research. In many subjects students can pursue their degrees not only in Romanian but also in Hungarian and in German. Cluj is a lively city situated in the heart of Transylvania. It has 300,000 inhabitants, almost a third of whom are students.
Our centre benefits from this dynamic academic environment. The Centre was founded in December 2011 and has established a rich programme in its first year. Events at the ZEWI included a tri-national workshop for PhD students, a four-day taster programme for pupils, and a number of lectures by international speakers. Invitations from a network of university partnerships allowed our Fellows to participate in workshops, conferences and summer schools.
The centre’s international orientation is represented by the distinguished International Board with thirty members, several of whom are former EUI members. For sure, my experiences at the Max Weber Programme helped me a lot in getting the centre going. I am always happy to hear from Max Weber Fellows, alumni and EUI members, particularly those with an interest in partnering with ZEWI for future projects. More information on ZEWI can be found on its website www.zewi.eu or by following the centre’s activities on Facebook.
We are currently planning a lecture series for next summer, on the topic of religion in politics. The impact of religion and culture on politics is one of the central research interests of the centre. The opening lecture will introduce my latest book which will be in print soon: Pilgrimage, Politics, and International Relations. Religious Semantics for World Politics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). The ground work for the book was laid down during my year as Max Weber Fellow, and I am thankful for all the support I received, particularly from my mentor Friedrich Kratochwil.