The Research Institute

  • ZOiS is an independent, international and interdisciplinary research institute
  • ZOiS intends to strengthen academic and analytical expertise on Eastern Europe
  • Tasks: socially relevant research on Eastern Europe, communicating our research findings to political actors, the media, and the wider public, and supporting the next generation of expertise on Eastern Europe

ZOiS started its work in October 2016 and concentrates on medium-term, socially relevant research on Eastern Europe.


ZOiS understands itself as a forum linking universities, research institutes, think tanks, foundations, and other organisations concerned with Eastern Europe in a network.

The main tasks of ZOiS are socially relevant academic research on Eastern Europe, communicating our research findings to political actors, the media, and the wider public, and supporting the next generation of expertise on Eastern Europe.


We conduct research on the region that meets international scholarly standards, helps to shape public discourse, and contributes to a more profound understanding of Eastern Europe. We set ourselves the task that our research findings should not only connect with the major contemporary academic and public debates but also actively raise new issues.

The post-Soviet space is a major regional focus of our research. However, our work is comparative and flexible in terms of the issues it addresses, which means that it is not confined to the area of the former Soviet Union. Our scientific approach is equally open. We combine qualitative and quantitative methods, use interviews, surveys, ethnographic approaches and textual analysis, and in our fieldwork we adopt innovative methods, for example by engaging with artistic research.  

Our declared goal is to not only research Eastern Europe from afar, but to do so from within. We are committed to actively engaging with research generated in the region and with East European scholars.

Research at ZOiS currently focuses on four areas:

  • Societies between Stability and Change
  • Conflict Dynamics and Border Regions
  • Migration and Diversity
  • Youth in Eastern Europe


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 organizational 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.  


Germany and the EU face particularly difficult challenges with regard to their policies towards Russia and their eastern neighbours. Research activity in Germany on the current dynamics in Eastern Europe has been decreasing since 1989. Specialist circles have been pointing out the need for application-oriented knowledge about Eastern Europe for many years. Large gaps have emerged in research on contemporary issues, in sociology, economics and political science (see report by the Wissenschaftsrat, the German Council of Science and Humanities, dated 2006 and its 2013 recommendations). There are almost no young researchers with expertise in the region among the upcoming generation in these disciplines.

"We intend to put our knowledge of Russia and Eastern Europe in Germany on a solid foundation. To achieve this, we intend to strengthen academic and analytical expertise on this region." Shaping Germany’s future. Coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and SPD. 18th legislative period, 13.12.2013, p. 169.

In December 2015, the German Bundestag decided to establish an independent institute for East European research in order to ensure the availability of the necessary expertise in the long term.