Call for Applications – Helsinki Summer School in Conceptual History

Introduction to Conceptual History

Summer school for PhD students and advanced level Master’s degree students

8 August to 19 August, 2016

University of Helsinki

In the summer of 2016 the eleventh annual summer school “Introduction to Conceptual History” will take place in Helsinki, at the University of Helsinki and its Centre for Nordic Studies. The summer school is jointly organized by Concepta: International Research School in Conceptual History, The Political Concepts Standing Group of the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR), and the research projects “The Political Rhetoric of Isms” and “Asymmetries in European Intellectual Space at the University of Helsinki”. An international team of distinguished scholars and visiting lecturers have been engaged to stimulate the participants into a critical discussion around key concepts in politics, as well as in the social sciences and the humanities.

The summer school seeks to familiarize younger scholars with theories and practices of conceptual history and the study of political concepts, opening various perspectives on political theorizing and studying political practices. The aim of conceptual history is to analyze the ways in which concepts and ideas are operationalized in political and social life through the study of their migration, translation, reinterpretation and diffusion through time and space. Conceptual analysis involves looking at larger semantic, discursive, ideological and rhetorical settings in which concepts are given meaning, and demands familiarity with a variety of linguistically oriented approaches to discourse and ideology, as well as to rhetoric.

An international team of distinguished scholars and visiting lecturers have been engaged to stimulate the participants into a critical discussion. The course will introduce the fundamental aspects of the theory and methodology of conceptual history (discussing the work of scholars such as Reinhart Koselleck, Quentin Skinner, John Pocock, Michel Foucault, and Pierre Rosanvallon), which the students are encouraged to use as tools in their own research. On this basis, a focus will be put on different cases of conceptual change, emphasizing the inherently political character of language and rhetoric in the usage of concepts. Further, contemporary trends in conceptual history will be explored through case studies presented by the students as well as visiting lecturers.

The course includes lectures, seminars and workshops.

We welcome PhD and advanced Master’s degree students from various academic fields.

Teachers and lecturers

Postdoc researcher Anna Björk, University of Jyväskylä

Professor Martin Burke, The City University of New York

Postdoc researcher Ainur Elmgren, University of Helsinki

Professor Jan Ifversen, University of Aarhus

Postdoc researcher Anthoula Malkopoulou, University of Uppsala

Postdoc researcher Jani Marjanen, University of Helsinki

Associate Professor Niklas Olsen, University of Copenhagen

Professor Kari Palonen, University of Jyväskylä

Professor Margrit Pernau, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin

Senior researcher Evgeny Roshchin, RANEPA University, St. Petersburg

Associate Professor Johan Strang, University of Helsinki

Professor Claudia Wiesner, Universität Darmstadt / University of Jyväskylä

Time, place, duration, tuition fees, and ECTS

Time: 8–19, August 2016

Place: University of Helsinki, Topelia building (Unioninkatu 38 A)

Duration: 60 contact hours

Tuition fee: There is no tuition fee, but students are required to cover their own flights and accommodation. Once you have been accepted to the course, you will recieve information about pre-booked accommodation.

ECTS: 6–10 (depending on submitting an essay)

Applications and admission requirements

In order to be admitted you must be a PhD-student with a topic that relates to political concepts and/or a conceptual history approach. We are also willing to consider advanced-level MA students that have a strong interest in the topics of the summer school.

Applications to the course must include information about:
– your educational background
– names of your supervisors
– a short description of your PhD project (max 200 words)
– motivation letter (max 200 words) and an overview of current research and interests (max 200 words)

Please send your applications via e-mail to and

Application deadline: May 20, 2016

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