Scholarships for Europe's future

17 May 2022

Anthropologist Alena Zelenskaia has just been accepted into the Europaeum Scholars Programme.

Alena Zelenskaia is a scholarship holder of the Europaeum University Network | © vzign

For Alena Zelenskaia, Europe means the opposite of nationalism. “The European identity is anti-militaristic, democratic and above all social,” says the 33-year-old. “With a focus on the human being, from the cradle to the grave.”In her doctorate, the anthropologist is addressing a specific situation in the lives of some people: moving abroad for the love of a partner.

In the Research Training Group of the “Cultures of Vigilance” Collaborative Research Centre at the Historical Seminar at LMU, she researches the marriage migration of Russian spouses or life partners to Germany. “Among other things, I study the cultural value systems and practices of European border agencies,” explains the native Russian, who has also lived in Kyrgyzstan and the United States. “What is their understanding of intimacy? How has their conception of ‘family’ changed? And what information has to be checked when couples are not married?”

In particular, Zelenskaia focuses on new migration rules that make the entry of unmarried life partners easier. “Does the reduced pressure from the State have an effect on the couples? Does less paperwork also mean more trust – and therefore less vigilance?” The researcher, who is herself married to a German and has two small children, finds the constellation of topics around third countries, family migration, discrimination, and borders “vitally important and exciting.”

Focus on the humanities

Alongside her doctoral work and a blog, for which she interviews migrants in her spare time, Zelenskaia has been a scholar in the Europaeum network of universities since March. Launched in 1992, the network counts a further 17 leading European universities among its members as well as LMU, including institutions in Oxford, Bologna, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Prague. It connects students across disciplines, cultures, and countries while furnishing them with the knowledge and skills to collectively shape the future of Europe.

“Europaeum brings together research and teaching in the field of European Studies,” explains Kiran Patel, Professor of European History at LMU, who coordinates the Munich activities of the network. “For LMU, Europaeum is an important component of our internationalization strategy and a gateway to productive collaboration in Europe and on European questions. ”The Scholars Programme is the Europaeum’s flagship scheme. Open for applications every two years, it offers doctoral candidates such as Alena Zelenskaia a two-year policy and leadership course with a focus on contemporary European politics, to be taken alongside their doctorate.

Within the thematic framework of “History and Culture,” “Policy-Making,” and “Liberal Democracy and Citizen Engagement,” they investigate political and social problems and conceptualize possible solutions – with the goal of being able to offer well-founded advice to Europe’s political decision-makers. The approach is multidisciplinary, with a focus on the humanities: linguists cooperate with lawyers, economists with historians, sociologists with philosophers. The research interests of the current cohort of 36 scholars include questions such as the relationship between cultural policy and social cohesion, Roman religious practices, populist discourses, female characters in European naturalist novels, green consciousness, and cyber surveillance technologies.

From Covid-19 to cultural management

Worth up to 10,000 euros, the scholarship covers all costs for studying at the course venues, including travel and accommodation. Although Alena Zelenskaia was unable to travel personally to the first course module in Oxford, as she could not obtain a British visa due to the war, she did participate via Zoom.

The broad-ranging program of events – also designed to provide inspiration for scholars’ own projects – took in everything from the pandemic and cultural management to Brexit and homelessness. “There was a discussion of ways in which women could escape violent relationships, and a philosopher confronted us with ethical questions about killer robots,” says Zelenskaia. She also got to know many colleagues in virtual form, whom she describes as “super-friendly and easy-going” and mutually supportive.

Holder of a bachelor’s degree in journalism and two master’s degrees in international relations and anthropology from universities in St. Petersburg, Zelenskaia is currently working on a concept for her Europaeum project. “I don’t have a definite title yet, but it will have something to do with Russia or the post-Soviet countries – that much is certain.” As a trained journalist, she worries about journalism in Russia. “As such, I’m considering a project about propaganda, social media or public watchdogs.” At the end of the scholarships, the results of all projects are to be presented at an international conference and submitted to relevant political decision-makers.

Both these things could help Zelenskaia in the next stage of her career, as she can see herself going into practical policy consulting after she completes her doctorate. “Europaeum was precisely the flexible, module-based training program that I was looking for,” she summarizes. “The fact that ‘Europe’ was interpreted in a wider sense and that applications from Russian students were accepted is more important than ever for people from my home country – and offers a glimmer of hope.”

Europaeum network:

In addition to LMU, the following universities are members of Europaeum: Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, the University of Bologna, the University of Copenhagen, Freie Universität Berlin, the Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies, Geneva, the University of Helsinki, the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Leiden University in the Netherlands, KU Leuven in Belgium, the University of Oxford, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, the University of Luxembourg, Complutense University of Madrid, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Charles University in Prague, the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and the Estonian University of Tartu.

Aside from the Scholars Programme, doctoral students have the opportunity to do joint degrees between several Europaeum universities.

On top of this, the network organizes seminars, conferences, and debates – LMU is due to host a workshop and a summer school. As is the case for scholars, participants in these events are welcomed into the Europaeum alumni network.

Application: Doctoral students at LMU can apply for Europaeum scholarships through the GraduateCenter

International Networks:

Information about the numerous networks at LMU and our over 600 collaborations with partner universities across the globe.

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