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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Arista Maria Cirtautas
POL S 445
Seattle Campus

Politics and Society in Eastern Europe

Political and social issues in lands east of the Elbe, treating some historical problems but focusing particularly on developments since 1945. Includes all communist states of Eastern Europe and their successors. Offered: jointly with JSIS D 445.

Class description

This course presents an overview of the politics, cultures and societies of Central and Eastern Europe. With the end of the Cold War, post-communist countries have evolved in different directions with some successfully joining NATO and the European Union while others struggle to consolidate democracy in the context of viable state structures. Increasingly it appears that new regional configurations capture these diverse outcomes better than the simple East versus West European divide of the post WWII era. Roughly speaking, there is now a Northern Baltic Europe (Scandinavian countries + the Baltic Republics), an East Central Europe (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and possibly Slovenia + Croatia), a Southeastern or Balkan Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro + Albania), an Eastern Europe (Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus) and a Southern Caucasus Europe (Armenia + Georgia) -- which taken together comprise a complex mosaic of distinct but also somewhat fluid and interdependent regions. All of these countries can be considered east European and all were once communist but with divergent historical legacies, socio-economic levels of development, and political trajectories they can no longer all be subsumed under a catch all label like "Eastern Europe". With that in mind, this course will begin with a theoretical overview of how to account for divergent outcomes in post-communist eastern Europe (2 weeks). We will then focus on key regions (2 weeks each): East Central Europe (with a focus on Poland + the Czech Republic); Eastern Europe (with a focus on Ukraine and Moldova); Balkan Europe (with a focus on Bulgaria and Bosnia). We will complete the course by taking an in- depth look at developments in Russia (2 weeks).

Student learning goals

Students will be introduced to the social science literature on postcommunism

Students will become familiar with the current diversity of what was once communist "Eastern Europe"

Students will be able to address in analytical terms the specific trajectories and challenges faced by key countries

General method of instruction

Lecture and Discussion

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

There will be 5 response essays (3-5 pages, double-spaced)-- one due every two weeks- worth 40% of the grade. Active participation will count for 20% and a final paper (10-15 pages, double-spaced) will be worth another 40%. The paper will be due during finals week.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Arista Maria Cirtautas
Date: 12/05/2012