CEU Summer University (SUN)

One of the most important developments or events in the unit's history

CEU's Summer University (SUN) promotes research, teaching, and social engagement by developing high-level, research-oriented, interdisciplinary, and innovative academic courses as well as workshops for professional development. The curriculum is delivered annually by a team of distinguished international faculty. Participants include graduate students, junior and post-doctoral researchers, teachers, and other professionals.

The Summer University also serves as a laboratory for CEU to experiment with new topics and approaches. SUN was the first in 2004 to offer a course at CEU on cognitive science, through which the founders of the Department Cognitive Science emerged and, at the invitation of the Rector, they subsequently established an outstanding master's and doctoral program. Many of the current faculty were once contributors and students of the summer courses of 2004, 2005, and 2007. In another area, after several successful summer schools on Drug Policy and Human Rights (2011-14), the School of Public Policy hired one of the members of the summer course faculty, and has incorporated the topic into its regular curriculum.

Over the years, the summer school has become a well-known short and intensive study and outreach opportunity for CEU with an annual global application pool of 1500-2000 competing for the available 500-550 places. SUN supplements and multiplies CEU's academic and civic mission. Similarly to the University's student composition and curriculum, it attracts a highly diverse participant body, and offers an interdisciplinary training with an interest in exploring emerging fields and topics from both theoretical and applied perspectives, training academics as well as practitioners such as human rights activists, litigators, educators, mediators, government officials, NGO workers, and others.

SUN has become an exciting opportunity for both scholars and practitioners to meet and discuss their ongoing research and practical experience, which brings leading experts in their fields to CEU, who, in turn, attract an inspiring audience of advanced graduate students and senior researchers and professionals to the summer courses. SUN has especially built up a strong reputation in philosophy, religious studies, various aspects of human rights in litigation, media and Romani studies, and environmental science and policy. Since 1996, SUN has run 37 courses on environmental science and policy issues, 25 on philosophy, 17 in religious studies, 17 in media and communication, 12 in Romani studies, and 18 human rights related courses.

One of the most attractive features of SUN courses is that they are not taught by a single instructor, but a team of faculty presenting a wider than usual range of perspectives and disciplines. The teaching may take the form of several faculty members running a session in tandem, or sitting in on each other's classes actively participating in the discussion. In addition, they offer individual consultations and often go out with participants in the evening continuing the academic discourses in an informal setting. Participants highly appreciate receiving this much access to faculty during the summer school, and, vice versa, faculty also enjoy exchanging ideas with colleagues and participants with their stimulating questions and contributions to the discussions.

Having a shared mission with CEU, Open Society Foundations has been a major partner to SUN in running 43 courses since 1999, providing both expertise and funding. Cooperation with other international organizations and donors as well as universities included Cardozo Law School, Hamline University School of Law, Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania, World Bank, USAID, UNDP, UNIDO, Council of Europe, International IDEA, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and various EU grants.

The most important development in 2014-15

  • In 2015, SUN offered 19 courses and attracted 522 participants from 89 countries, chosen from close to 2000 applicants.
  • Every summer, a fair number of high-caliber faculty come to CEU SUN to teach. In 2015 the two philosophy courses on Moral Phenomenology and Ontology and Metaontology were especially 'all-star ensembles' with leading philosophers, such as Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons of the University of Arizona, Uriah Kriegel, Research Director at the Institut Jean Nicod, Dan Zahavi of the University of Copenhagen, Kathrin Koslicki of the University of Alberta, and Ned Markosian of Western Washington University.
  • The Precautionary Principle and The Bridging ICT's and the Environment courses have involved high-level experts of large organizations, such as the European Environment Agency (EEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the Executive Director and Head of International Cooperation of the EEA; the Head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Environmental Education and Training Unit, and senior UNDP experts. These organizations have also provided substantial co-funding for the courses.

Engagement with external entities in 2014-15

SUN's new partnerships in 2015 included the Roma Initiatives of the Open Society Foundations, the International Society of Political Psychology, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the European Environment Agency.