THUS 2024 projects

The main component of the summer program is an active participation in the selected humanities and social sciences research project offered by the staff members of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, please see the topics and their descriptions below. Interested students are welcome to contact possible advisors for more details concerning the foreseen projects and discuss the dates that the project could be undertaken.

Russian Political Thinking in Time of War

After the basic theoretical approaches are operationalized, it is necessary to calibrate the research tools and then select the research sample. It is assumed that Russian political thinking is currently shaped not only by the Kremlin but also by the military (more broadly: silovikov), nationalists and, to a lesser extent, regional and economic elites. Examining the ways of thinking of these elites is currently only possible through the analysis of official speeches and publications in the media in the Russian language subordinated to a given elite. Inferences about the mindsets of these elites must, therefore, be regarded as having limited validity.

Research goals: Determining the political thinking of Russia's most important political elites through the analysis of public speeches and media texts in the Russian language. It is, therefore, necessary to classify individual manifestations of Russian political thinking between fundamentalism and totalitarian political gnosis.

At the same time, the basic myths about the West, Ukraine and Russia can be placed within the typology of Raoul Girardet's myths, modified by me, between
  1. the myth of the savior and Lucifer,
  2. the myth of conspiracy and unity,
  3. the myth of the "golden age" and the myth of the time of oppression.
Research tasks: The primary research tasks will include, after the basic theoretical approaches have been operationalized, the calibration of research tools and then the selection of sources and the analysis of selected texts. The next step will be to interpret them and determine the place of the ways of thinking of selected politicians among the above-mentioned ideal types.

Supervisor: prof. dr hab. Roman Bäcker (backer[at]
Time: July 2024

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Belligerent Russia

The project examines Russia as a revisionist power that seeks to revise the world order. Its desire for expansion, its demand for an exceptional status on the international stage, and its refusal to renounce violence in its relations with its neighbours did not emerge in a vacuum. Russia's aggressive nature is rooted, on the one hand, in its strategic culture and, on the other, in the West's appeasement. The misreading of the Kremlin's imperial instincts and the hope that it would become part of the liberal and democratic world through cooperation and trade have proved to be a fatal mistake.
The program will focus on Russia's international strategy, the domestic roots of its belligerence and future trends.

Key areas include:
  1. Russian world politics/world order views
  2. The domestic factors behind Russia's international strategy
  3. Ideas, institutions and processes of foreign policy-making in Russia
  4. Prospects for Russia's future (and international security)
Supervisor: dr Agnieszka Bryc (a.bryc[at]
Time: July 2024

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Conflicting memories in contemporary Europe

Memory conflicts exist in every society. They are particularly visible in multinational and multicultural societies or between different states, nations, ethnic minorities, religious groups, etc. Each community decides for itself what it commemorates (and how) and what it wants to forget (or remain silent about). The aim of the project is to identify various types of memory conflicts in selected European states and to analyse them by focusing on:
  1. the subject of the conflicts,
  2. communities and individuals involved in the conflicts and shaping the conflicting discourses,
  3. different ways of shaping the memories/discourses.
In this way, it will also be possible to create ‘the European map’ of contemporary memory conflicts.

Research goals:
  1. following through the literature on memory conflicts,
  2. analysis of example(s) of memory conflicts existing in contemporary Europe by adopting various research perspectives.
Research tasks:
  1. collecting literature on memory conflicts,
  2. defining what a memory conflict is and how it can be characterised,
  3. selecting one or two examples of memory conflicts in contemporary Europe, analysing and comparing it/them,
  4. preparing a short analytical report on the research issue and then presenting it,
The best-prepared reports will be published on the Laboratory for Research on Collective Memory in Post-Communist Europe POSTCOMER website.

Supervisor: dr hab. Agata Domachowska, prof. UMK (a.domachowska[at]
Time: July 2024

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Institutional Framework of a Stateless Society: An Austro-Libertarian Analysis

Austro-libertarianism is an economic-political theory modelling the institutional framework of a stateless society (or minimal state society) in which the main mechanism of order generation is the free market. Austro-libertarianism is predominantly a deductive theory which proceeds from a few basic theorems concerning human action, self-ownership, labour-mixing acquisition and voluntary transfer to, as detailed as possible, a reconstruction of the institutional structure of the so-called free society. The present project is a part of a multiannual research program devoted to the task of conducting the abovementioned reconstruction. Working with a group of PhD candidates, post-doc researchers and renowned professors from all around the world, our partially formal and partially informal research team has already published results on such topics as, inter alia, transfers involving property titles, mere promises, blackmail, bribery, threats, proceeds of crime, mistakes etc. and various conflicts of interests (e.g. easements, accession, abortion). The present research project invites students to join this broader program in order to learn, gain research experience and possibly contribute to philosophical, legal and economic analyses of various institutions of a stateless society, such as, for example, forms of common property, private production of health care, private production of defence and security (private prisons, private policing, private army, private adjudication, private law production), the spontaneous emergence of extralegal cultural and social order, non-physical forms of torts and crimes and many others (also of students’ own educated choosing).

Research goals: To answer a battery of research questions centred around the main query of whether and why given institutions would develop in a stateless society (as modelled by the Austro-libertarian theory) both in terms of their justice and economic efficiency, where the said institutions include inter alia:
  1. defence and security institutions;
  2. health care institutions;
  3. insurance institutions;
  4. judicial institutions;
  5. property institutions;
  6. contract institutions;
  7. tort law institutions;
  8. criminal law institutions;
  9. extralegal social institutions, etc.
Research tasks:
  1. literature review,
  2. choice of specific institutions/topics to be studied,
  3. formulating specific research objectives, problems, and hypotheses regarding the chosen topics,
  4. analytic work: formulating arguments, drawing analogies, applying first principles to specific topics,
  5. synthesising work: peer discussion, literature update, formulating conclusions,
  6. developing and publishing research results: writing reports, posters, notes, research papers.
Supervisor: dr hab. Łukasz Dominiak, prof. UMK (lukasdominiak80[at]
Time: July 2024

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Bordering Europe. A sociological insight into migration policy of Eastern European member states

This project proposes a sociological perspective on the situation of irregular migration related to the eastern land border of the European Union. It will consist of collecting available information, data and other evidence to present the broadest possible picture of this complex sociological phenomenon. The dynamics of migration processes over the last few years will thus find expression in the form of scientific research, creating an alternative representation to one-sided and judgmental media and political images.

Research goals:
  1. A general sociological and demographic overview of the migration process, an attempt to assess its scale and its dynamics.
  2. Specification of the conditions of external and internal migration that vary for individual countries, i.e. the scale of protectionism, nationalist and populist sentiments, the state of internal social policy, altruistic activities of humanitarian organisations and the process of creating and implementing international law.
Research tasks:
  1. Collecting quantitative and qualitative data on irregular migration to EU countries via the eastern land border (Finland, Baltic countries, Poland, Slovakia, Balkan countries).
  2. Collecting qualitative data, including available personal accounts and visual materials.
  3. Synthesis and summary, preparation of a research report.
Supervisor: dr Łukasz Dominiak (lukasz[at]
Time: July 2024

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The energy crisis (2021-2023) in Central European countries and cooperation: do minilateral formats matter?

In the autumn of 2021, the European Union (EU) confronted a significant energy and gas crisis, a situation it had not faced in quite some time. This crisis resulted from three key factors: lifting significant restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid economic growth in Europe, and redirecting most liquefied gas deliveries to Asia. Additionally, the Russian energy giant Gazprom implemented supply restrictions with the intention of increasing natural gas prices. The crisis was further exacerbated by full-scale aggression by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022. Russia was the largest coal, gas, and oil supplier to the EU Member states for many years. In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU implemented comprehensive sanctions on coal imports and partial restrictions on oil imports. While there is no embargo on gas, supplies have been constrained due to reduced transmission volumes and the closure of both Nord Stream pipelines.

Particular challenges have arisen for the Central European countries (CEC) members of the European Union (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia). On the one hand, the historical legacy of the Soviet era has resulted in CEC being heavily dependent on energy resources, nuclear technology, and gas and oil infrastructure from Russia; on the other hand, the states’ energy systems are reliant on fossil fuels with high CO2 emissions. The CEC were required to undertake appropriate measures to address the crisis and ensure their energy security. A key strategic objective was to reduce dependence on raw material supplies from the Russian Federation by initiating new investments and continuing ongoing projects. The CEC were supported mainly through bilateral agreements and by the European Union. Given the crisis within multilateral organisations (Newman, 2007; Lloyd, 2012; Zürn, 2021) and the constrained capacities of bilateral formats (Renard, 2016; Aggarwal, 2023), the research question emerges regarding the role of minilateral formats in supporting the CEC during an energy crisis (2021-2023). The project aims to analyse minilateral formats involving Central European states, identify which formats engage in activities related to energy cooperation, and assess whether, within the framework of minilateral formats, measures were taken to support states in addressing the energy crisis. The project will be based on a qualitative methodology.

Research goals
  1. to identify minilateral formats involving the Central European Countries (CEC),
  2. to analyse which minilateral formats engage in activities related to energy cooperation,
  3. to assess whether, within the framework of minilateral formats, measures were taken to support the CEC in addressing the energy crisis (2021-2023).
Research tasks
  1. Conducting a review of documents (EU, IEA, national), statistical data, and current scholarly literature concerning the energy crisis (2021-2023) in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. This involves providing context, identifying causes, and analysing remedial measures undertaken by states at both multilateral and bilateral levels.
  2. Conducting a comprehensive review of the theoretical framework of minilateralism. This includes identifying and analysing fundamental concepts, theories, and research findings on minilateral formats in the context of security studies and international relations.
  3. Selecting of minilateral formats involving Central European states.
  4. Performing a case study analysis of minilateral formats involving Central European States that address energy cooperation
  5. Assessing the alignment between minilateral initiatives and implemented actions related to the energy crisis in the states
Supervisor: dr Karolina Gawron-Tabor (k.gawron-tabor[at]
Time: July 2024

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Social and language adaptation of minorities and immigrants in contemporary Poland

The main aim of the project is to determine and characterise the strategies of language and social adaptation of the chosen national group.

Since the status of minorities is granted only to those ethnic and national groups whose ancestors have lived in Poland for at least 100 years, their cases will be the subject of the analysis of long-term adaptation. In turn, immigrants, especially temporary ones, undertake actions aimed at linguistic and social adaptation in the short-term perspective.

Therefore, the most valuable in our research will be examples of nationalities represented both among minorities and immigrant groups, which enable us to characterise the relationships between old and new diaspora, too.

In the context of research on short-term adaptation strategies, research will include, among others, NCU international students. The research will include, among others, the participation of students in sociolinguistic interviews. Basic knowledge of Ukrainian, Russian or Polish will be helpful, but the assistance of the project supervisor and the Polish student will also allow people who only speak English to participate fully in the project. It is also possible to choose a different immigrant-minority community according to the interests of the participants.

Research goals
  1. Analysis of values and stances in the field of language and social adaptation of immigrant and minority communities.
  2. Characteristics of the factors determining their conscious activities (strategies) of adaptation.
  3. Comparison of the situation of a small, relatively isolated community and all representatives of a given nationality in Poland.
Research tasks
  1. Getting acquainted with the legal status of minorities and immigrants in Poland.
  2. Preliminary analysis of the possibilities to maintain cultural heritage and mother tongue.
  3. A query in social media and the press of the given minority group in terms of detecting attitudes towards the Polish language, bi- and multilingualism, contacts with Poles and family language policy.
  4. Selection of qualitative research methods and preparation of semi-structured interview scenarios.
  5. Interviews with the members of the chosen minority (immigrant group).
  6. Analysis of values, stances, and strategies towards language and social integration with Polish society and the integration processes between old and new diaspora.
  7. Preparing the report/final presentation of the project results. If the participants are interested, it is possible to prepare a co-authored publication after the end of the project.
Supervisor: dr hab. Michał Głuszkowski, prof. UMK (micglu[at]
Time: July 2024

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The 2nd half of the 20th century in social memory

The beginning of the historical and political second half of the 20th century is slightly earlier than pure mathematics would suggest because in 1945, when World War II ended. It is more difficult to define its end precisely, but it oscillates around 1989, when political changes began in Central and Eastern Europe and the Berlin Wall was demolished.

Thus, the second half of the 20th century, understood here as the years 1945-89, was associated with the division of Europe and the world into two military camps and two economic blocs. Normal life was going on both sides of the Iron Curtain, there were also events important for the region, individual towns and villages or families.

Our aim is to compare the picture of these events in the collective memory in Poland and the country(ies) of the origin of the project participants. If these are the countries of the former socialist bloc, the result will be a comparative study of the memory of communism, and in the case of students from Western countries – a comparison of events and phenomena living in collective memory in the then separated social realities.

The project will be based on a qualitative methodology. On the material of semi-structured interviews conducted (online) simultaneously by Polish and foreign project participants with their relatives or friends representing generations who remember the 2nd half of the 20th century from their own experience. The final analysis aims to compare the events reported as important by the informants with the most important points on the timeline according to historical studies.

Research goals
  1. To compare social memory about the 2nd half of the 20th century in Poland and the countries of origin of the project participants on the example of individual stories.
  2. To gain a different perspective on past events from the interviews by forcing the narrative about them to be directed to an external audience (a foreigner).
  3. To locate the events which were significant in the lives of selected informants on a timeline formed by "great history" events determined on the basis of official historical works.
Research tasks
  1. A query covering official historical works devoted to the period of the second half of the 20th century in order to determine the most important events in Poland and the countries of origin of the project participants.
  2. Selection of criteria that students should follow when selecting informants.
  3. Preparation of scenarios of the semi-structured interviews.
  4. Interviews with the selected informants. The interviews will be conducted by the student from the informant’s country with the possible participation of one other team member (or the supervisor). The presence of the foreigner and the questions asked by him/her (directly or translated) will encourage informants to formulate their thoughts more easily and to look at their own history from an external perspective, which will distinguish our project from numerous studies in the field of oral history.
  5. Analysis of the collected material in two stages: a) the national one and b) the international comparison.
  6. Work on the research report – a presentation or an article.
Supervisor: dr hab. Michał Głuszkowski, prof. UMK (micglu[at]
Time: July 2024

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Liminal warfare as total warfare

In 2020, David Kilcullen presented the concept of “liminal warfare”, i.e. warfare that aims at the achievement of objectives through intermediate stages without triggering military responses from the enemy. According to Kilcullen, this type of war was evolved by Russia as a reaction to the massive technological superiority of the West. Despite the fact that “liminal warfare” is often associated with the concept of limited war, i.e. war fought with limited means for limited objectives, “liminal warfare” as carried out by Russia during the annexation of Crimea in 2014 as well as “liminal warfare” as carried out by China against Taiwan show some striking similarities with the concept of total warfare.

Research goals
  1. To address the question concerning the character of future military conflicts – either limited or total.
  2. To address the question about the most appropriate responses to liminal warfare.
Research tasks
  1. To identify the main features of liminal wars through a detailed study of the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and China’s policy towards Taiwan.
  2. To identify the main features of current total military conflicts through a detailed study of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Supervisor: dr hab. Paweł Hanczewski, prof. UMK (ph[at]
Time: July 2024

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The Scottish National Party (SNP) vision of an independent Scotland

The SNP is the main political force supporting Scotland's independence. Despite the results of the September 2014 Referendum, in which 55% of the voters opted for Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom, the SNP has not given up the idea of an independent Scotland. As the ruling party, the SNP has already introduced some changes that led to the creation of public institutions that are very different from the ones functioning in England and Wales, for example, Police Scotland. The SNP vision of an independent Scotland attracts much attention both in Scotland and south of the border, and it provokes strong criticism because of its ‘unrealistic’ character.

Research goals
  1. To address the question of whether the SNP programme for independent Scotland can result in the creation of an effective state and a stable, prosperous and fair society.
Research tasks
  1. To establish the main features of the SNP vision of an independent Scotland.
  2. To define the main obstacles, both internal and external, to the fulfilment of that vision.
Supervisor: dr hab. Paweł Hanczewski, prof. UMK (ph[at]
Time: July 2024

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Editing Contemporary Literary Discourses across Cultures (Selected Approaches)

This project aims to describe, analyse and assess editorial practices and their outcomes within the development of major contemporary literary discourses, as manifested across various cultural backgrounds. The scope of the research will comprise editorial solutions found in the major publications dealing with contemporary discourses on myths and fairy tales, present-day postcolonial criticism and selected theme theory (e.g. revenge). The theoretical framework will be based on Gérard Genette’s notions of peritext and epitext, as described in his Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation (original publication, 1987; 1997 – English translation) and subsequently developed, adapted or revised by other scholars, preferably within the cultures of the project participants. Another significant text, The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst (1992; 1997), will underlie the editorial considerations of the project. The third theoretical source, Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism (1993), by Jerome McGann, will further add to the conceptual framework of the project.

Research goals
  1. To describe selected editorial practices and their outcomes in creating and disseminating contemporary literary discourses across publishing practices in different cultures (depending on the participants’ backgrounds).
  2. To critically assess the interconnectedness between paratextual (typographical, peritextual and epitextual) and textual aspects of the material forms of selected discourses (contemporary theories of myths, contemporary postcolonialism, approaches to fairy-tale criticism, theme theories, e.g. revenge), based on examples found in various cultures.
  3. To identify and interpret the loci of tangency between editing and sense conveyance based on selected discursive practices in different cultures, as represented by the project participants.
Research tasks:
  1. Selection of material forms of contemporary discourses on the basis of the cultural and editorial contexts represented by the project participants.
  2. Interpretation and critical assessment of the materiality of selected discursive forms and their impact on meaning conveyance, as seen in various cultural backgrounds.
  3. Interpretation of the interdependence of meaning and editing, based on selected discursive publications (postcolonialism, mythical discourse, theme theory (e.g. revenge).
  4. Comparison of epitextual and peritextual qualities of the publications conveying contemporary approaches to selected contemporary discourses and themes (myths, postcolonialism, fairy tales, revenge).
  5. Preparation and presentation of individual projects by the students.
  6. Preparation and publication of research outcomes – co-authored by the students engaged in the project (optional).
Supervisor: dr Grzegorz Koneczniak (gregorex[at]
Time: July 2024

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The EU Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) – selected aspects

The European Union's security architecture is currently co-created on several levels by various decision-making centres. The countries themselves play a crucial role, so the first level is governmental. The second level is the cooperation of these countries on the supranational institutional level within the EU. The third is trans-Atlantic cooperation within the framework of a specialised international organisation, NATO. Interestingly, analysis of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the current stage of development brings together all these three levels. The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), of which PESCO is a part, is not a military alliance but rather a ‘post-national’ global security actor. Yet, in security terms, it is hard to see how the EU as a post-national security actor differs fundamentally from other multilateral institutions designed to provide security and defence for a group of states through the promise of reciprocal military support (and some element of joint planning), whether for offensive or defensive purposes. CSDP members are looking for the same fundamental benefits from cooperation as members of other types of cooperative bodies, namely more security (conceived as greater capacity for action and greater credibility of promises, threats and deterrents) at a lower cost. However, cooperation related to the CSDP (Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, 2014) had not been carried out to the full extent. This situation has been changing significantly beginning in December 2017, when the EU Council decided to initiate permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) in the field of security and defence.

Research goals
  1. Analysis of the participation of a selected EU Member State in CSDP defence projects
  2. Identification of the role of individual EU agencies in activities supporting cooperation between EU member states
  3. To analyse selected forms of financing the EU defence policy
  4. The importance of permanent structural cooperation in the field of defence (PESCO)
Research task Development of a methodology to address the research objectives and analysis of source documents and materials provided by the mentor on the topic.

Supervisor: dr Michał Piechowicz (piechowicz[at]
Time: July 2024

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