Democratic backsliding in Europe: empirical and theoretical perspectives

Democratic backsliding has emerged as a core challenge to European politics in both theoretical and practical terms in that it challenges the EU’s foundational values and the basis for cooperation at the European level. The reversal of initially successful democratic reforms among several Central and East European member states poses an important empirical puzzle for the literature on EU enlargement and raises key normative questions on the EU’s authority and legitimacy in responding to democratic backsliding.

The workshop “Democratic backsliding in Europe: empirical and theoretical perspectives” brought together a group of eight early-career scholars in an intensive 2-day format at LUISS University in Rome to discuss ongoing work related to the phenomenon of democratic backsliding in Europe. The workshop aimed to facilitate an exchange between scholars using different methodologies and either empirical or theoretical methodologies, thus combining two perspectives that typically remain divorced in the literature.

As an issue of direct practical and policy interest, democratic backsliding in the EU is an area of study where the empirical assessment of the trends and causes of backsliding tie in closely with the doctrinal analysis of the scope of possible actions to combat backsliding, the theoretical study of the nature of backsliding, and the normative evaluation of policies responding to such developments. As such, the workshop facilitated a particularly enriching format to debate EU backsliding with scholars using different methodologies and theoretical approaches.



SGEU Pre-Conference Workshop “Ponte dell’ Accademia”

Career Development Workshop for Early Career Researchers

The “Ponte dell’ Accademia” career development workshop, co-convened by Dr. Dorina Baltag (Loughborough University London) and Dr. Maryna Rabinovych (Kyiv School of Economics), has aimed at discussing the ways to transfer from PhD studies to a post-doc career. Since choosing a career trajectory following PhD studies and coping with thesis defence, publishing and self-branding at the same time is not easy, the workshop attracted the attention of 24 PhD students, approaching their defence, from various universities Europe-wide.

In the first part of the virtual workshop participants had the opportunity to hear from and engage with 5 different junior academic within 3-5 years from their PhD defence. During the starting reflection sessions, participants received input from five current post-docs: three representatives of academia (workshop co-convenors and Dr. Paolo Pizzolo, Roma Tre University) and two PhD graduates who opted for a policy career (Dr. Julian Bergmann, German Development Institute and Dr. Ryhor Nizhnikau, Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA)). The speakers and workshop participants touched upon numerous topical issues, such as conventional career trajectories under different academic systems, converting a thesis into a monograph, building networks and consortia for common project applications, transferring from academia into the policy world and combining policy career with academic research. Some of these topics were covered in more detailed in the second part of the workshop during the three subsequent interactive world-cafe sessions: on transferable skills in academia (with Dorina Baltag), on publishing and international cooperation in the era of COVID-19 and beyond and going beyond the world of academic research (with Ryhor Nizhnikau). Workshop co-convenors and speakers got positive feedback from participants, emphasizing the usefulness of tips they received at the workshop and its interactive and engaging format.

Dr. Dorina Baltag & Dr. Maryna Rabinovych