On October 1 a new research centre at Collegium Civitas was founded – Centre for Studies of Democracy, Civil Society and Political Elites.
The formation of the Center responds to political changes related to the long-term political democratisation in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, and to the growing challenges to liberal democracy and the EU, particularly from surges of nationalism and populist authoritarianism.
These developments call for more systematic and coordinated studies, both theoretical and diagnostic-descriptive. The main aim of the Centre is inspiring and coordinating such studies with particular attention paid to the key institutional foundations of democratic rule, as well as the main political actors shaping those institutions: political leaders and elites, as well as the social initiatives of civil society. It is also hoped that such studies also help in improving the effectiveness and quality of governance. The main topics include social (institutional, elite/leadership and cultural-communication) foundations of ruling styles and political regimes, as well as the main challenges and threats to liberal democracy coming from extreme nationalists, authoritarian populists and mass media manipulations. The Centre collaborates with similar institutions in Poland and abroad, as well as political groups, local government organisations and NGOs.
- The Center is a meeting place for the broad Collegium Civitas community. It brings together faculty, students, international scholars and intellectuals and others with interests in understandings challenges to liberal democracy. The Centre recognizes that responding to current and future challenges requires engagement beyond the social sciences and promote dialogue and collaboration with practitioners and activists.
- The Centre undertakes research that increases understanding of social changes that are occurring in Central and Eastern Europe, promoting an interdisciplinary environment that embraces scholars from different disciplines of social sciences.
- It offers a rich program of activities including seminars, workshops, lectures, panel discussions and conferences.
- The important part of its activity is collaboration with universities, think tanks and civil society organizations from the East and Central European countries.
The Chairman of the Consultative Council of the Centre is Prof. Grzegorz Ekiert, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Government at Harvard University, Director of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES), and Senior Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. At CES, he co-chairs the Seminar on Democracy – Past, Present, Future. His research and teaching interests focus on comparative politics, regime change and democratization, civil society and social movements and East European politics and societies.
The Director of the Centre is Prof. Jan Pakulski, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tasmania, Australia, Visiting Professor at Collegium Civitas, Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Affiliate of the Stanford Centre on Poverty and Inequality, (co-) editor and (co-)author of 10 books and over 120 scholarly articles on elites, democratization, multiculturalism, post-communism, social movements, and social inequality.
Deputy Director is Dr. Robert Sobiech, sociologist, director of the Collegium Civitas Public Policy Center. His scientific interests relate to politics, public relations and communication in the public sector, public affairs and public opinion. Dr. Sobiech lectured at the Institute of Applied Social Sciences of the University of Warsaw and the National School of Public Administration, where he was the head of international cooperation and the director’s adviser. He is the author of over 40 publications and analyzes prepared for central and local government administration, non-governmental organizations and international organizations such as OECD, UNDP, UNDCP European Social Dialogue Committee in Central Government Administrations.
The team members of the Centre are: Prof. Paweł Matuszewski, Dr. Katarzyna Iwińska and Dr. Katarzyna Maniszewska.