The organizational and intellectual roots of Studium Europy Wschodniej (the Centre for East European Studies) go back to the underground journal Obóz (the Polish word for ‘Camp’, as in Communist camp) established in 1981 and edited throughout the 1980s by Jerzy Targalski, with a small, sometimes changing group which included Andrzej Ananicz, Kazimierz Stembrowicz, Marek Pernal, Wojciech Maziarski, Jan Malicki, Robert Bogdański, and later also Leszek Hensel, Krzysztof Dąbnicki, Jolanta Sierakowska-Dyndo, Grażyna Gytybow, and Iwanyczo Gytybow. From its inception, Obóz, true to its description, focused on the “problems of nations in the Communist bloc.”
In 1990, thanks to the kindness of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the University of Warsaw, the Seminar for Nationality Problems of the Soviet Union and Central & Eastern Europe was established under the academic supervision of Prof. Tadeusz Majda, an outstanding expert on Turkish issues. This new Seminar was initiated by Andrzej Ananicz and Jan Malicki, and supported by Tadeusz Majda. Somewhat later, after the fall of the USSR, its name was changed to Centre for East European and Central Asian Studies and after a time, to Centre for East European Studies (Studium Europy Wschodniej).
At first, the Centre only organized annual seminar and open lectures. Despite a difficult first few years, its contribution to Eastern issues was recognized by numerous renowned lecturers, who generously offered their expertise free of charge. One of them was Prof. Marek Sliwiński, the first to regularly come to lecture at the Centre while still employed as a lecturer at the University of Geneva.
The East European Summer School is the Centre’s earliest initiative. It was established in 1991 and started offering courses as part of a three-week international visiting scholarship programme in 1992. Every year in July, the Summer School holds academic sessions for younger generation researchers from former Soviet republics and Central Europe. The programme focuses on the region’s history and its contemporary affairs.
The crowning achievement of the work of the Centre’s staff was the introduction in 1998 of second-cycle “Eastern Studies” study programme. Soon “Postgraduate Eastern Studies” were created and in the academic year 2012/2013, the Centre started the first-cycle “Eastern Studies” study programme.
A significant part of the Centre’s activity is dedicated to academic conferences focused on the most important issues in the region – more notably “WEEC – Warsaw East European Conference,” “St. Grigol Peradze Caucasus Sessions,” and “Promethean Conference.” The Centre – either independently or in cooperation with others – publishes: Przegląd Wschodni, Obóz, Pro Georgia, Nowy Prometeusz, Warsaw East European Review, Rocznik Centrum Studiów Białoruskich. Biełaruski Historycznyj Ahliad, and Polskii Studii (2012-2020). It also edits the Internet publication BIS – the Centre’s information bulletin dedicated to Eastern issues. In addition, the Centre coordinates numerous scholarship programmes, more notably: Konstanty Kalinowski Scholarship Programme and the Scholarship Programme for Young Scholars. As of 2006, the Caucasian Bureau has been functioning at Tbilisi State University within the framework of the Centre, to support Caucasian-Polish academic collaboration. In 2015, a Kyiv Bureau was established at Kyiv Mohyla Academy, followed by the Balkan, Transnistria, and Vilnius Bureaus. In 2011, the Centre launched a second-cycle “East European Studies” programme in Ukraine, with the participation of students from Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Prykarpattya National University in Lvano-Frankivsk, and National University “Ostroh Academy.”