Publish Date: 26.09.2019

Category: News from the University

On behalf of the CELSA – Central Europe Leuven Strategic Alliance, the Rector of the University of Ljubljana Prof. Dr. Igor Papič awarded the first Service to Society Award 2019. We are proud to announce that Dr. Rok Zupančič, Associate Professor of Security Studies at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences, is the first to receive the CELSA Award for the significant social, economic and cultural impact of his community-driven research and field work, and for his efforts to include marginalised groups and the general public in his studies and outreach activities.

The award of the European consortium of universities recognizes and promotes researchers who have gone beyond their professional duties and have achieved significant and positive social impacts outside academia. The CELSA board received four nominations from three different member organisations.

Most of the research work of Dr. Zupančič is focused on Southeast Europe, where he has been actively collecting data ‘in the field’ since the start of his academic career. The main question leading his work is how the international community could best assist people in need and help the war-torn countries to reconcile. He has been active in various research projects, beginning with his PhD, in which he focused on conflict prevention in Kosovo in the period 1999-2008. Currently, he is working on a €2.5 million worth H2020 project ‘RePAST’ where he studies the troubled war-related past of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The majority of fieldwork in Bosnia-Herzegovina tackles the issues of ordinary, often deprivileged people, who have very limited access to power. Giving a voice to an ordinary person – and not to the elites, decision-makers and other “important” figures in political life, which is a rather common approach in security studies – was also the main academic thrust of his recently completed Marie S. Curie Individual Fellowship, which he held at the Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz. In his research, he often chooses topics, which might have an emancipatory potential for ordinary people, often combining the psychosocial aspects of life in post-conflict societies and the impact of peace-building efforts on the psychosocial life of people in the north of Kosovo. The interviews and the focus groups he has had there led to - what people who participated there called - ‘a feeling of not being so isolated in their thinking’. More about his research, published in the Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, is available at this link.

Another important reason for presenting him with a CELSA Service for Society Award was the fact that he often chooses venues which are quite unusual for the dissemination of academic work – next to presenting his work at academic conferences, he often disseminates his findings in places that are partly excluded from world-wide academic streams or international research funding opportunities (e. g. north of Cyprus, Kosovo). Moreover, some of his academic works have also been recognized as important reading material for people deployed to the EU missions and operations in Southeast Europe, for example a monograph entitled Limits to the European Union’s Normative Power in a Post-Conflict Society (Springer, 2018, co-authored with Nina Pejič) or an academic paper entitled The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo: An Effective Conflict Prevention and Peace-Building Mission, published in the Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies (co-authored with Nina Pejič, Blaž Grilj and Annemarie Peen Rodt). Both publications received high number of downloads.