Kääriku Winter School

Second International Winter School
Transformation of Modern Statehood: Sovereignty. Memory. Identity

Kääriku, Estonia, 11–17 February 2012


This International Winter School brought together 26 students from four different countries (Estonia, Russia, the U.S. and the Philippines). It was held at the Tartu University conference and training centre in the beautiful Otepää area and provided the opportunity to discuss the key aspects of the evolution and transformation of modern statehood.

The teaching team included:

  • Eiki Berg, Professor of International Relations, University of Tartu
  • Piret Ehin, Senior Researcher and Executive Director of CEURUS, University of Tartu
  • Andrei Makarychev, Professor, Free University of Berlin
  • Sergei Medvedev, Professor, Higher School of Economics, Moscow
  • Viatcheslav Morozov, Professor of EU-Russia Studies, University of Tartu
  • Eva-Clarita Pettai, Senior Researcher, University of Tartu

The location provided excellent opportunities for educational activities, sports (gym, cross country skiing, etc.) and recreation (including sauna).The School’s programme allocated time for classes and group work as well as sports and recreational activities, thus living up to the ancient ideal of combining mental and physical training.

Picture Gallery (.zip)

Student feedback:

Ingvar Arst, student of EU-Russia Studies, University of Tartu: 

The Winter School in Kääriku 2012 was awesome. One week flew astonishingly quickly. In general I want to say that yin and yang of this project really existed. First of all mental and physical activities were in harmony. In the sense that all mornings were free – some went to ski, some went to the gym (including me) and some just slept. Afternoons were filled with open discussion lectures on sophisticated topics and evenings with movie screenings and sauna with steeling oneself in ice hole. Thrilling thrilling thrilling experience!

Moreover I would like to emphasise the high level of academic discussions with students from Moscow and other parts of Russia. It gave opportunity to hear and discuss with fellow students from different universities and professions.

Second great aspect was to see professors having intense discussion around the topics we were working with.

I strongly recommend such concept to everyone who appreciates both mental and physical activities with fabulous company. I am really happy that I found great new friends and hoping to see or why not having cooperation with them in future.

Maarika Nimmo, student of EU-Russia Studies, University of Tartu: 

The Winter School in Kääriku was the first this kind of event for me and it was wonderful. I really enjoyed the balance of mental and physical activities. The topics and discussions of in-class activities were very interesting and gripping. Skiing in the mornings between the forests of Kääriku was stunning as the nature is miraculous. I also enjoyed the company from other students from Russia and Estonia, the atmosphere was very friendly throughout the whole week. In conclusion, the Winter School has left me very good memories and I recommend students to use the opportunity to participate.

Bryce Carr, American exchange student at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration: 

The Winter School in Estonia cultivated students interested in understanding the political turmoil that exists in a late-modern world. Only in the quiet, unorthodox setting of the school in Kääriku, with the combined intellect of superb instructors and equally impressive students, could theory come so close to reality and practicality. I was especially personally enriched by the lively discussions on memory and national identity, especially as they are applied not only in Eastern Europe, but in various nation-states around the world. This really was a fantastic school. Aitäh!

Olga Zeveleva, student at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University): 

The Winter School in Estonia was everything you could want wrapped up into one little trip. The week embodied a perfect synthesis of academics, sports, culture, socializing, resting, trying new things and making new friends. The level of lectures was highly engaging and incredibly interesting, the participants of the school were a lot of fun and made for a great group dynamic, and the area we lived in was beautiful and conducive to all kinds of sports and recreational activities. The idyllic woods and fields of Estonia and the intensive socialization in the hostel, in the classroom and even in the sauna were conducive to learning about each other’s worldviews in meaningful ways and making lasting friendships. This kind of dialog in this kind of setting truly sets the stage for cross-cultural and cross-border communication, and as a Russian student I personally grew very fond of Estonia and Estonians over the course of this short week. Through interaction with the Estonian participants, I experienced things that a regular tourist would not be exposed to and learned things about Estonia in a week that may take years to understand in a different setting. The trip stands out in my memory as enriching, harmonious and full of laughter, and also as the beginning to a lot of new passions I will seek to build upon. I highly recommend such an experience to everyone, no matter what their interests are in either sports or academics and no matter where they are from. Everyone has something to share, and everyone will take a lot away from this multi-dimensional adventure.

Elena Sidorova, student at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow: 

This February I spent seven absolutely amazing days at the Winter School in Estonia that was organized by the University of Tartu and National Research University Higher School of Economics. Despite my third trip to this wonderful country, I have experienced plenty of new positive and unforgettable emotions that I undoubtedly will keep in my heart forever. First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the professors that were delivering well-rounded and enlightening lectures to us. Thanks to these classes, personally I obtained a great deal of new knowledge and got a perfect chance to expand my cultural horizon. Moreover, I liked very much the idea of the group project that we were preparing during the whole week. I got completely absorbed in the topic we were investigating, and the team work gave me the opportunity to discuss the most topical international relations issues with other students whom I was working with. Finally, I would like to point out that all the students both from Estonia and Russia that were participating in this project strongly impressed me. Here I met very bright and intelligent people, who at once became my closest friends.