The Annual Summer School on National Minorities in Border Regions

In September 2011, the ECMI organised its first Summer School. Ever since, the Annual Summer School on National Minorities in Border Regions has been one of the fundamental annual activities of the European Centre for Minority Issues. Scholars, PhD- and Master`s students from various fields connected to Minority Studies are welcome to apply. The selected participants can participate in a unique one-week training course which brings international experts on Minority and Human Rights together. Standing under a specific umbrella theme each year, the Summer School features a number of varied excursions to different institutions of topical relevance as well as involving a series of lectures by renowned academics.


Summer School 2020


The use of referendums as a tool of self-determination has both strong historical and contemporary relevance in the field of national minorities. 2020 sees the 100th anniversary of the plebiscites which redrew the border between Germany and Denmark, wherein minorities influenced and were affected by the outcome. These plebiscites came about as a result of the end of WWI, and were part of a broader array of self-determination referendums in Europe in 1920 and 1921 that formed part of a larger geopolitical reshuffle in which a number of today's national minorities were created. Alongside this, in recent years the issue of self-determination and autonomy through referendums has resurfaced, particularly in the context of Catalonia and Scotland. This centennial provides a pertinent opportunity for examination, reflection, and discussion of referendums as democratic tools in a time when democracy is facing new challenges and threats. How have the lessons of the last 100 years influenced forms of autonomy and self-determination today? What does the future of the German-Danish border region hold, and what might its successes and difficulties teach other border regions? And how are changing political landscapes affecting both minority communities and referendums?

Topics covered
  • Minority concepts, rights and definitions in Europe
  • The effect of the 1920 plebiscites for the Danish/German border region and the minority communities either side of the border
  • The role of German and Danish minority communities in the referendum process.
  • The contemporary debate on self-determination referendums in Europe, particularly Scotland and Catalonia, and their implications for minorities 
  • Models and challenges of self-determination and autonomy for diverse communities in Europe and beyond

The programme will consist of lectures, seminars and workshops given by ECMI research staff and expert guest lecturers, including:

  • Vello Pettai (ECMI),
  • Ljubica Djordjevic (ECMI),
  • Sergiusz Bober (ECMI),
  • Caitlin Boulter (ECMI/Humboldt Universität zu Berlin),
  • Rob Dunbar (University of Edinburgh),
  • Volker Prott (Aston University, Birmingham),
  • Elisabeth Alber (Eurac Research, Bozen/Bolzano),
  • Mogens Rostgaard Nissen (Dansk Centralbibliotek for Sydslesvig),
  • and more to be announced.
Planned Activities

The programme will combine traditional and non-formal educational methods, interactive sessions and networking activities and will thus inspire the participants to engage with the topics of the course critically and from different perspectives and disciplinary approaches. 

The course will include: 

  • Keynote lectures delivered by prominent scholars, academic lectures and practitioners’ seminars
  • Interactive workshops conducted by trained professionals and discussion sessions
  • Meetings and networking with local minority stakeholders, panel discussions 
  • A cross-border trip to Denmark to visit German minority organisations
  • Presentation and research exchange among the participants 
  • Social events (city tour, visits to selected museums/exhibitions, international evening) 


Eligibility and application procedures

The Summer School team aims to select a total number of 24 junior scholars, researchers or practitioners, having the following professional background: 

  • Students from relevant fields of studies (MA and PhD students), and/or 
  • Practitioners from the public sector, NGOs, mass-media 


Applicants are required to submit a completed online application form which includes questions on general information (contact details, affiliation, practical and logistical information). 

To finalise the submission of an application, applicants must also submit their detailed CV and a Letter of Motivation via email to no later than 31st of May 2020. Please state "NMBR SuS20 Application" in the subject line. 

The letter of motivation should 1) explain the reason for the applicant’s interest in participating in the Summer School; 2) assess how they will utilize and benefit from this experience in the future; 3) explain how they would be an asset to this Summer School; and 4) provide at least two references (name, position, affiliation, email, and phone number). 

The application will not be considered for the selection process unless the required documents are submitted via email. 

The selection will be performed on the basis of academic and professional achievements, as well as expressed interest in the topic. Diversity of the group in terms of professional background, gender, and country of origin will be an important factor in the selection process. 

Tuition Fees


Applicants who submit their completed applications before the Early Bird deadline will be eligible for a reduced fee in the event that they are selected for the program. Fees will be due to be paid in late June/early July.

The tuition fee for the Summer School 2020 is 

  • 200 EUR if the completed application is submitted until 15th of May 2020 (EARLY BIRD discount) 
  • 250 EUR if the completed application is submitted after 15th of May 2020 


The fee covers: 

  • The week-long programme of lectures and workshops
  • All reading materials before and during the Summer School 
  • Accommodation and breakfast in Flensbed Hostel ( in 4-bed rooms from 23rd August - 30th August 2020 
  • Lunches and light refreshments for seven days of the Summer School, plus two dinners 
  • A field trip to Denmark 
  • Participation in all additional Summer School activities (city tour, social activities, visits to museums/exhibition) 
  • Support with bureaucratic matters during your visa application (if needed). Please note that visa fees will not be reimbursed. 

***Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the ECMI is developing contingency plans which will allow us to proceed with the Summer School programme should disruptions occur due to travel restrictions for lecturers. These contingencies include some flexibility in the teaching and activities of the programme, including interactive online teaching options and sourcing locally-based lecturers to step in. Additionally, if confirmed participants are unable to attend the Summer School due to travel restrictions relating to the crisis, they will be fully refunded for any fees paid up to that point. In the event that the programme is cancelled entirely, any fees paid will be refunded in full.***

Cancellation policy 

Cancellation until 17th July 2020: 80% of the tuition fee will be refunded, minus any additional incurred costs. 

Cancellations after 17th July 2020: no refund *(except travel restrictions relating to the crisis, participants will be fully refunded for any fees paid up to that point. In the event that the programme is cancelled entirely, any fees paid will be refunded in full).


Venue and Partners

The 10th Annual Summer School ‘National Minorities and Border Regions’ is organised together with Coppieters Foundation and is kindly hosted by our partners at the Dansk Centralbibliotek for Sydslesvig.

This summer school is a joint initiative of ECMI and Coppieters Foundation. This event is financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the conference or the opinions of the speakers. 

Previous Summer Schools

Summer School 2019

9th Annual Summer School  on National Minorities in Border Regions

Topic: The Legacy of ’89: 30 years of redrawing borders and rethinking minorities

Dates and venue: 1 – 8 September 2019 / Humboldt Universität zu Berlin 

Joint initiative of the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) and Coppieters Foundation.

Please find the Brochure (pdf) here. 


Aziz Berdiqulov


Further Information
Caitlin Boulter

Caitlin Boulter


Further Information

Craig Willis


Further Information

The Summer School 2019 took place in Berlin - watch the video to get an impression!

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ECMI Founders