The Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) is an independent, international, publicly funded research institute. It focuses on foundational and policy-relevant academic research on Eastern Europe and shares the results with policymakers, the media, and the broader public.
Eastern Europe is in a state of flux. This has become particularly apparent in recent years, when supposed certainties have proved fragile in many post-Soviet countries. Not least, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has shown that a broader perspective is needed to understand and respond appropriately to the diverse processes shaping the region.
Developments in Eastern Europe often follow their own internal logic. The behaviour of the states in the region is shaped by specific perceptions of the outside world, as well as by the distinctive way in which each society and political system is structured and its particular economic and security interests. Only clearly focused regional research based on longer-term projects can provide the sound knowledge needed to explain these developments.
As an independent institute, ZOiS sets its own research agenda. The topics chosen for its initial research priorities and projects reflected its aim of exploring and awakening interest in various aspects of Eastern Europe, with topical relevance and background analysis carrying equal weight here. However, we also think it is important to show that Eastern Europe is not confined to the eastern part of our continent but is present in diverse forms in this country too. With that in mind, one of the projects investigates the realities of Eastern European migrants in Germany.
The development of our five research clusters at ZOiS is well under way. Our researchers' individual projects fall within five main topic areas: Societies between Stability and Change, Conflict Dynamics and Border Regions, Migration and Diversity, Youth in Eastern Europe and Political Economy and Integration. 'East Europe' is defined in broad terms and encompasses the post-Soviet space as well as Eastern and Central Europe. Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, the South Caucasus and Central Asia are currently the main focal points of our research, where we have strong regional expertise.
Detailed analysis of the complex developments taking place in Eastern Europe is only possible with a multi-perspective approach. ZOiS researchers therefore come from a range of disciplines, including political science, sociology, social anthropology, economic and social geography, political economy, theology and cultural studies.
Detailed in-country studies are a key element of the basic research conducted at ZOiS. We combine qualitative and quantitative methods, use interviews, surveys and textual analysis, and adopt innovative methods in our fieldwork, for example by engaging with artistic research.
However, ZOiS’s work does not begin and end with research. Our aim is to contribute to and inform public debate and current discourses and offer new perspectives on – and from – Eastern Europe. ZOiS researchers regularly share their findings with policymakers, the media and an interested public, using a variety of events and publication formats for this purpose. Research on Eastern Europe relies on new perspectives and a willingness to engage with unconventional topics. Supporting young academics is also a priority for ZOiS here.
For ZOiS, Eastern Europe is more than just a subject of research. We actively engage with the research being produced in the region itself and collaborate with Eastern European and international scholars on publications and events, for example.
And lastly, ZOiS sees itself as a place for networking and exchange for universities, research institutes, think tanks, foundations and other organisations with a connection to Eastern Europe.
ZOiS gGmbH and Foundation
ZOiS was established by a decision of the German parliament, and is financed by the German Foreign Ministry. The Centre’s academic independence is guaranteed by its organisational structure, which is that of a non-profit enterprise under German law (gGmbH). A Foundation functions as the shareholder of the gGmbH. The Board of the Foundation is made up of representatives of academia, parliament and ministries. An international Academic Advisory Board strengthens our research profile.