The average American would likely be able to draw a rough portrait of, or at least locate the United States on a map. Skip across the Atlantic and ask them to at least name the countries of Western Europe, if not their capitals, and they will likely be able to do so. Move further to the east, however, and the chances of success rapidly diminish. Of course, knowing exactly where the west ends and central Europe begins, has long been a troublesome issue for professional historians and diplomats alike.
The problem was made immeasurably more difficult in 1989 when fifteen newly independent countries arose within the formerly stable borders of the Soviet Union. The diversity of these states -their different pre-Soviet histories, political ideologies, and national identities - made for a fascinating array of political systems in the post-Soviet era. In some cases,states with no prior history of sovereignty gained their independence, and began the challenging process of state- and nation- building.
Since 2007, several St. Thomas faculty members, including two from the department of Political Science, have been trying to gain a better understanding of the political and social dynamics of this intriguing, if seldom recognized, part of Europe. This work includes a number of research and classroom-based activities done in collaboration with university partners in Eastern European countries.
this website provides information on the work conducted so far by our research team. We welcome your comments and inquiries as we continue to develop this area of research.