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Vol.26, No. 06 Oct. 16, 2000

SIPA Announces the Creation Of New Institute on Europe

By Abigail Beshkin

The School of International and Public Affairs has launched the new Institute for the Study of Europe, designed to create a collaboration between the University’s various European resources while reflecting the rapid political, economic and social changes taking place across Europe.

The new institute was created to rethink patterns of research and teaching on Europe, with such major developments as the growth of the European Union and the rapid integration of the Eastern European countries into the global economy.

“In the last decade, with the fall of Communism, Europe has reappeared as a continent,” said Lisa Anderson, dean of the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). “In light of the growth of the European Union, East and Central Europe’s massive transition to democracy, and the emergence of these countries into the global marketplace, the academic and research world is reexamining the way it studies Europe.”

The Institute’s director will be Volker Berghahn, Seth Low Professor of History. The new institute will integrate SIPA’s various centers devoted to studying the European regions, and will serve as the umbrella organization for the West European and East Central European Centers. The East Central European Center will continue under the roof of the Harriman Institute, SIPA’s academic center devoted to the study of the Russian empire, the former Soviet bloc and the post-Communist states.

Berghahn said that in recent years, the study of Europe at universities, particularly Western Europe, has fallen under the domain of social science, history and European language and literature departments, with policy being taught by regional centers and institutes. Now, he said, there are major economic and policy areas that need to be understood in the context of the continent as a whole.

“Since the disappearance of the Iron Curtain, it has become more relevant to reintegrate that study of Europe within a framework that is both interdisciplinary and transnational,” Berghahn said.

The new Institute will also create opportunities for cooperative programs, conferences and research with areas of the University outside SIPA. Columbia also houses the European Legal Studies Center, the Center for Comparative Literature and Society, the Italian Academy, the Casa Hispanica, the Maison Francaise and the German House. In addition, the West European Center, which will now fall under the Institute for the Study of Europe, is part of a citywide European Studies consortium with NYU and the New School.

“We see the new Institute as a roof for scholars and projects of all relevant disciplines in order to bring them together in open discussion,” said Berghahn.