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Summer School

Picture of Jena
Image: Anne Günther (University of Jena)


After your second semester, you will attend a summer school focusing on one challenging topic of crisis management. The summer school lasts about eight days and the programme is highly interactive. It will take place either in Jena or abroad – in case of the latter we will co-organise it with renowned partners who offer expertise that complement ours. And we will even cover most of the costs.

The topics and activities change every year. We are currently considering the following options:

  • Simulations of real-world crises, such as negotiations on how to solve the conflict in Eastern Ukraine or how to divide the water in the Nile basin
  • Workshops on topics such as ethical challenges in peace and conflict, post-conflict reconciliation and secessionist conflicts, including guest lectures, working groups and other highlights
  • Joint summer schools with the European Centre for Minority Issues (Link) on the protection of minorities in Europe and beyond and with a partner organisation in Brussels with direct access to the European Union and NATO on topics such as the worldwide peace support missions of both organisations
  • Participation in summer schools of other organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE, Link)

Summer School 2021

Title: Dealing with Troubled Heritages. Ethno-Nationalist Conflicts and Reconciliation

Date and Place:

23.07.2021 - 31.07.2021 at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena


The idea of nationalism and its related vision of a sovereign people in a clearly confined territory has been the driving force of modern times and the foundation of today´s international order. Whilst the original idea – sparked by the American and French Revolutions – was an inclusive, revolutionary and political one, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, it increasingly became a retrograde, exclusivist force featuring conceptions of ethnic purity and culture, while also laying the foundation for racist suppression, and serving as rationale for colonialist expansions. For its double-faced nature famous theorist Tom Nairn has called nationalism the ”modern janus”, Benedict Anderson in his historico-cultural analysis "imagined communities" has vividly outlined the constructed, socio-psychological character of nations. Eventuallly, popular historian Eric Hobsbawm has drawn attention to the strongest pillar of these communities: their common heritage. Since every grand nation needs a grand heritage, as he explains not without irony in his ground-beaking work ”invented traditions”, a nation´s past has often been a constructed one.

Many conflicts and post-conflict settings evolving around contested borders and territories, over minority rights, or power sharing balances have to be seen in their ethno-nationalist dimension. The continuous tensions between Turkey and Greece, the Cypriot division, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the wars following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and the newly sparked conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabakh have been called nationalist conflicts based on exclusive ethno-religious identities and competing prerogatives of interpretation over contested national heritages.

All of them can be called intractable conflicts to a larger or smaller degree. For they are rooted in decades of simmering tensions with entire generations raised in their spirit. Dominant discourses of educational systems, museums, media and politics are mostly based on mutually exclusive narratives of the conflict history. Some have been frozen for decades, like Cyprus, some characterized by daily dynamics of confrontation and outbreaks of violence, like Israel-Palestine. Yet others have undergone a profound political transition and classified as ”resolved”, or ”post-conflict” like former Yugoslavia and South Africa´s Apartheid. The latter, in fact, has been considered by many as text-book example of reconciliation with regard to comprehensive reappraisal, acknowledgement and compensation for committed injustices. Others, however, have strongly criticized the still existant socio-economic cleavages along ethnic lines. The same holds true for the former Yugoslavia: Peace accords and criminal prosecution that accompanied a profound political transition do not seem to have reconciled the former enimies. Rather, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one could speak at best of a peaceful coexistence of the communities and a collective memory that is based on competing, mutually-exclusive national narratives.   

In view of the above-mentioned, how can contested, sensitive heritages, how can human rights violations and traumata in intractable conflicts and post-conflict settings be sustainably addressed and reconciled?

Drawing on theories of nationalism, intractability and reconciliation, the summer school will discuss these and related questions in a series of case studies. It will shed light on the relevance of collective memory, national identities, and vested interests – particularly regarding disputed territories – for unfavorable intergroup dynamics and confrontational politics and seek methods for rapprochement and reconciliation.

Based on secondary literature, key-notes by accomplished experts and practitioners from the respective fields and primary sources taken from education, media and politics the summer school puts a special emphasis on peace activism, peace-educational material and peace-oriented trans-border, respectively trans-ethnic activism in an attempt to define best practices of reconciliation. Each day will be composed of theoretical expert input and interactive workshops guided by related research questions and concluded by a comparative discussion of the results.

The full preliminary programme for the 2021 Summer School can be found here [pdf, 445 kb] de.

Particiants of the 2021 Summer School Particiants of the 2021 Summer School Image: IOCM

Future Summer Schools

The following table shows the prospective topics for future Summer Schools. Please note, that the listed topics might be subject to change in the future.

Topic Semester
UN Peacekeeping Summer Semester 2022
Peace Ethics Summer Semester 2023
Minority Rights Summer Semester 2024


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