Summer School “War in Ukraine and its Security Implications”

4. 10. 2023 Author: Šárka Kolmašová From September 11th to 15th, 2023, Metropolitan University Prague (MUP) hosted a Summer School within the Erasmus+ Blended Intensive Program (BIP) on the "War in Ukraine and its Security Implications." This initiative brought together students and experts from Helsinki, Tartu, Warsaw, Bratislava, and Banska Bystrica to discuss the complexities of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and its far-reaching security implications.

The content of the program was carefully designed to cover regional perspectives that tend to be sidelined in academic debates, including implications for countries in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the diverse positions of major powers of the “Global South'' - Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. We also had the pleasure of hosting a lecture on the Implications of the War on the Indo-Pacific by the profound expert on this topic, Yoichiro Sato, from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan. Furthermore, the program was based on a multidimensional understanding of security, therefore, it covered debates on human, food, or environmental security. For instance, Hanna Tuominen from the University of Helsinki discussed accountability for atrocity crimes in Ukraine, and our PhD candidate, Sasha Kovalevska, talked about the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.

Participants had an opportunity to learn about the conflict through a series of lectures, workshops, simulations, and field trips. “I really enjoyed the Isle of Ted Simulation and the BRICS workshop, as it allowed me to engage with the course topics in a very hands-on way,” one participant commented. According to the survey we conducted after the summer school, students mostly appreciate interactive forms of learning. Since the BIP framework encourages the combination of online and onsite sessions, we decided to complement online lectures focused on theoretical and conceptual foundations by engaging in collaborative activities once students came physically to Prague. Besides the workshops and simulation game, participants could experience the memory sites of the 1968 Soviet invasion and discuss to what extent this historical incident shaped the current public discourse on the war in Ukraine. We also visited the DOX Center for Contemporary Art for a commented exhibition, "Infamous Beauty" by Andres Serrano. Later in the afternoon, students had a unique opportunity to learn about storytelling and the power of empathy from Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan, who shared their personal stories from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Finally, the summer school concluded with two sessions of student presentations followed by comments from MUP academics. These presentations were the outcome of five research projects that covered implications of the war in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans. At the very end, participants applauded the recorded podcast they prepared together with Michal Kolmaš and students from the Asian Studies program, Michaela Buchníčková and Radka Jančová. Students initially worked on these projects as strangers with different academic and cultural backgrounds. After intensive teamwork, online sessions, and the week spent in Prague, we said goodbye as friends with a shared experience that will hopefully remain as memorable as traditional Erasmus+ stays.

Allow me to share one more comment from our participants: “Thank you so much for an incredible program! I hope for future opportunities to participate in a similar program again, especially with all of the wonderful academics and administrative staff in Prague!” While Summer Schools tend to be demanding for organizers, the feedback and the entire experience made it all worthwhile.