Research Methods in Social Sciences I & II

The primary aim of the module is to introduce postgraduate students to the fundamentals of designing and doing social science research. It aspires to equip them with the knowledge and analytical tools necessary to critically consider and inquire into social phenomena, with a view to developing a capacity to understand the many different ways of thinking about trends, events and occurrences within their particular field of study. In addition to discussing several methods and approaches coupled with aspects of the philosophy of social sciences, the course seeks to act as a practical, instruction guide to academic research and writing: use of bibliographical and internet materials, study of the literature, construction of the framework for analysis, data collection, testing of hypotheses, formulation of arguments, investigation of findings, and proposal for further research.

Conflict and Security in the Mediterranean

his module explores the evolution of a series of ‘traditional’ as well as of ‘new’ security risks and challenges in the Mediterranean region. Apart from examining certain traditional and longstanding conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean, e.g. the Greek-Turkish dispute, emphasis in the module rests in the role certain systematic and institutional agents play in the Mediterranean subsystem. To this end, the module discusses the post-Cold War (especially the post-9/11) global and regional security environment; the evolution of the US strategy in the Middle East; the evolution of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue; the evolution of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) as well as of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP); the role of NATO and the EU in the management of the Greek-Turkish conflict; and the role of energy issues as well as of forced/illegal immigration in creating conditions of stability and/or instability in the turbulent Mediterranean region

Civilizations and Cultures in the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean area is particularly important for understanding today’s world. It is home to the longest continuous interactions among Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. It is the meeting-point of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Its civilizations greatly contributed to the evolution of knowledge and institutions at the basis of modern Western society.

Defined from Fernand Braudel as a “space-movement” among three cultural areas, Catholic Christianity, the Orthodox world and the Muslim “umma”, the Mediterranean experienced, through different forms, colonialism, the Empire, decolonization and the wars of independence. Through the prism of Cultural Studies, and in particular, postcolonial criticism, this module will explore the cultural history of mare nostrum: the complex crossing of cultures, the transformations of identities under the influence of globalization and migratory movements as well as the indication of the social and the political element on cultural products (Literature and Art).

Comparative politics and government in the Mediterranean

This module provides a broad overview of the comparative politics subfield by focusing on important substantive questions about political systems in the Mediterranean. The module is organized around three questions. First, how can we account for the differences between authoritarian regimes and democracies? Second, what different institutional forms does democratic government take? Third, which factors have an impact on consolidating democratic institutions in countries where a regime transition is under way. Particular attention will be paid to the cases of France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Libya and Tunisia. The module aims at developing knowledge about contemporary government and politics in a comparative perspective. Students are expected to comprehend the factors influencing the shaping and functioning of political institutions that constitute democratic and non-democratic regimes. On these grounds, a considerable part of the bibliography consists in studies in the field of Political Science, but other social science studies are important as well (sociology, economics, culture). Students are expected to grasp the significance of political institutions and relevant developments on the economy and society at large and to assess the impact of economic conditions and societal features on the process of democratization..

The Arab Spring and civil society in the Mediterranean

The Arab Spring is a complex phenomenon of socio-political uprisings, which seem to re-shape politics and society in the Greater Middle East region.  During these uprisings new social forces, new media and new discourses came to the center of political struggles, challenging obsolete but powerful nexuses comprised of corrupt and autocratic governments and business elites, omnipotent security services, and extensive clientelistic networks. The uprisings should also be connected to major geopolitical changes in the region, particularly after 2003 as well as to the region’s integration to globalization processes after 1990.

However, the Arab Spring phenomenon is far from uniform and all encompassing. Nearly none of the Arab monarchies has been affected seriously by the uprisings. The outcomes also differ enormously from country to country. They range from relatively smooth transition, to autocratic “restoration” and bloody ethno-religious conflict. Political Islam also played a pivotal role in these outcomes either in its rather moderate form of Ennahda Movement in Tunisia or in the extremist form of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. In this new Middle East, the notions of state religion and society are to be re-designed.

Energy and natural resources in the Mediterranean

This module explores the interactions among geopolitics, economics and environmental issues, related to energy and natural resources in the Mediterranean region. Firstly it assesses basic concepts of energy (definitions, energy balance, energy flow diagram, environmental security, energy supply and demand). The module focuses on recent developments in the broader Eastern Mediterranean, providing insights on the politics on pipeline diplomacy and energy security. It also examines how the European Energy Policy, tackles energy security, energy cost reduction and how its energy  strategy is affected by the energy politics and economics in the Mediterranean. The module aims first, to provide students with the background for understanding issues related to the role of power in international politics and the formulation of foreign policy, energy security and the interaction of energy planning with the geopolitical balance. It also aims at the understanding of the multi-disciplinary aspects of energy and natural resources, with special focus on the Mediterranean region. It finally explores how different policies at national and regional level can lead to energy exploitation, providing benefits on the regional economies  with a long-term perspective without putting a burden on the environment and the new generations.

The EU in the Mediterranean

The module examines the European Union (EU) as a suis generis international actor and discusses the evolution of the EU approach to the southern Mediterranean countries during the last two decades. It analyses the EU efforts to  apply an overarching policy towards the region and build institutional ties with the states in question through a series of initiatives, namely, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP), the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). The module also elaborates on the political economy of the Euro-Mediterranean relations and assesses the EU attempts to promote stability, security and democracy in its southern neighbourhood.

Democracy, Human Rights and Multiculturalism in a Comparative Perspective: Europe and Arab countries

The aim of this module is to acquaint students with a basic knowledge of the promotion of and opposition to democratic principles and institutions in Europe and the Arab world in conjunction with human rights practices and the idea of multiculturalism. By the end of the semester, students should have acquired an in-depth understanding of the challenges democracy and human rights face in Arab and other eastern Mediterranean countries as well as the ability to critically reflect upon the prospects of democratization and the resilience of authoritarianism.