Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SAIS Europe Students Share their Experiences Studying Legal Reform in Montenegro

Since 2003, more than 180 students and scholars from 26 countries have traveled to Igalo, Montenegro to attend the European Union and Legal Reform Summer School, a weeklong post-graduate course organized by the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD) at SAIS Europe and the Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade. During the course, held between July 12 to July 17 this year, students attended an innovative series of lectures and roundtable discussions in order to deepen their understanding of the EU’s expansion eastward and all of the subsequent legal and constitutional implications. Three SAIS Europe students shared their experiences below as students in the summer program. 

View from Villa Galeb in Igalo

Learning the Elements Crucial to Cultivating Cooperation in the Western Balkans 
'With the fjord-like Montenegrin Alps towering over the crystal blue Adriatic Sea, surrounded by palm trees and olive groves, it’s no wonder why Josip ‘Tito’ Broz chose Igalo to build his “Galeb” therapeutic and rehabilitation center and villa.  Tito’s new residence came two years after the fourth and final Yugoslav Constitution of 1974, which further expanded the unique Yugoslav economic system of worker self-management and further devolved political autonomy to the constituent republics and provinces.  While Tito and his regime are no longer around, this unique socialist regime has left big footprints, evident by the ubiquitous Yugo-nostalgia in the region. 

As if we found ourselves sent back in time, the diverse group of young Balkan professionals and students participating in the CCSDD Summer School was a salient reminder of how connected the peoples of the region have been throughout history, despite recent political fragmentation.  During the lectures, a special emphasis was placed on the importance of deepening regional cooperation and progressing with the Stabilization and Association Agreements for future EU membership of the Western Balkan countries.  Engagement by former Yugoslav and Albanian participants was the cornerstone of the seminars, along with a special contribution brought by the perspectives of other international students.

Connecting divergent issues like the recent sovereign debt crisis in southern Europe, deficiencies in European policy on human rights, and the need for legal reform, the participants of the CCSDD Summer School all contributed with one common goal in mind:  the development, security, and prosperity of the region in order to realize a unified Europe.

While “patience” is the abraxas of this process, the continuation of summer schools like that hosted annually by the CCSDD is crucial to cultivating empathy, trust, and cooperation in the Western Balkans.'

Christopher T. Barber, MAIA, 
SAIS Europe 2014 - 2016

My Unforgettable First Year at SAIS Europe 
'The European Union and Legal Reform Summer School in Montenegro was the perfect follow-up to my first year at SAIS Europe in Bologna. When I started my courses at SAIS in September 2014, I still needed to clarify my area of study interest. For this reason, I began to take courses in a variety of different fields, ranging from politics, history, economics and law. After some months, I focused my coursework in conflict management, international law and transitional justice. These courses taught at SAIS Europe by Professors Justin Frosini and Winrich K├╝hne, as well as the CCSDD activities, were crucial elements in influencing my decision to specialize in these areas and take my future career in this direction.

The Summer School in Montenegro was a perfect follow up to my two semesters at SAIS Europe. Topics of study included the legal aspects connected to international affairs, European integration and disintegration, and current topics, such as financial and economic crisis in Greece.  Participants came from different countries with extremely interesting backgrounds.  The rich diversity of participants meant that learning not only occurred in the classroom from faculty but also from the conversations and contributions from peers. 

The location and the extra-curricular activities in Igalo and Herceg Novi during the summer months were perfectly suited to fostering a memorable learning environment. This included visiting the former residence of the former President of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito, whose home had only recently opened to the public. 

Summer School in Montenegro was undoubtedly an unforgettable experience and the best way to conclude my first year at SAIS Europe.'

Irene Forzoni MA 
SAIS Europe 2014 - 2015

Creating Invaluable Friendships While Learning about the Future of Europe
'The European Union and Legal Reform Summer School, organized by the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD), created a unique opportunity to learn about the current status of the European Union (EU) and its potential for enlargement.  The summer school provided a forum to learn from talented professors from top universities in London, Milan, Berlin, and Belgrade.  Students from the Western Balkans and Central Europe contributed to the experience.

Lectures and round-table discussions on the European Economic Crisis and the power of European constitutional courts gave participants new insights on developing issues.  The academic experience was enhanced by the opportunity to see coastal Montenegro with attendees partaking in a boat-trip to a blue grotto, spectacular beaches, and a Cold War era military submarine silo.  The program allowed me to form invaluable friendships and develop a better understanding of how Europeans view the future of the EU and its legal systems. Perfect preparation as I begin my arrival to SAIS Europe this fall.'

Alex Sleisenger, MA 
SAIS Europe, 2015 - 2016 

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