Dr. Robert Jenkins
Department of Political Science
The Burch Field Research Seminar in Vienna and the Balkans is a six-week program that investigates the roles, structure, and dynamics of international organizations. There is a strong emphasis on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its conflict resolution and democracy building activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. At the same time, the seminar investigates the conflicts resulting from the breakup of the former Yugoslav and international efforts to end those conflicts and promote post-conflict state building.
Key research questions include the goal setting process within international organizations, the relationship between and among international organizations as well as their relationships with local actors in the field. The seminar will also inquire about progress in the development of state institutions, minority rights frameworks, and ethnic reconciliation in post-conflict countries.
The seminar begins with a three-week trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, ruggedly beautiful countries with troubled recent pasts of violent ethnic conflict. Students spend the first week in Sarajevo learning about the history of the region and the conflicts of the 1990s. During the second week, students travel in Bosnia-Herzegovina to assess the efforts of international organizations to promote peace and rebuild ethnically-torn societies and to experience the varying influences of Muslim, Orthodox, and Catholic cultures. After a weekend at the Montenegrin coast, students spend the third week in Kosovo, where the February 2008 declaration of independence highlighted the continuing challenges for international organizations and domestic groups alike. In this environment, efforts at state building mix with ongoing attempts by international organizations to reduce tensions between the ethnic Albanian majority and the Serb minority. Throughout these three weeks, we will have an opportunity to examine the work of OSCE and other international organizations through close interaction with these organizations.
The final three weeks of the program are based in Vienna, a city famous for its rich cultural heritage. As the former capital of the Hapsburg Empire, Vienna now offers a window into European culture, from the Baroque architecture of the eighteenth century through the Art Nouveau of the late 19th century to the post-modernism of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Once a home to Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Strauss and Mahler, it remains a city where music can be heard on the streets, in the concert halls and in the coffeehouses. Modern Vienna is also a home to multinational headquarters of the OSCE and a center of activity for other international organizations, including a major United Nations center. In Vienna, students will attend classes, assess their experience in the Balkans, do independent research, and visit international organizations.