History

History

The history of EUROREG began in 1977, with establishment of the Institute of Spatial Management, headed by Antoni Kukliński, at the Geography and Regional Studies Department of the University of Warsaw. Gradually it became one of the strongest centres for regional and local studies in Europe. Later on the Institute was transformed into the Institute of Spatial Economy, still operating within the structure of the Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies. In 1991 we became independent, forming a non-departmental European Institute for Regional and Local Studies (EUROREG). Initially we continued teaching the Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies’ students, and subsequently created our own postgraduate MA studies in spatial economy. In 2002 EUROREG merged with two other University of Warsaw’s units: American Studies Centre (ASC) and Centre for Latin-American Studies (CESLA), forming Institute for Americas and Europe (IAiE). The three units federated under IAiE retain significant research and didactic independence. As part of this organizational change EUROREG changed its name to Centre for European Regional and Local Studies.

       Formr logo, in use until 2002       

       Formr logo (2003-2008)                    
 


       Current logo, in use since 2009          

 

Undoubtedly more interesting than organizational transformations are the careers of its Staff. Until 1996 its team was headed by Professor Antoni Kukliński. From then on the director of EUROREG has been Professor Grzegorz Gorzelak. Connected with EUROREG are Professor Bohdan Jałowiecki (since 1987), and Associate Professor Roman Szul (since 1982). The team was then joined by: Professor Janusz Hryniewicz (1992), Professor Maria Halamska (1997), Associate Professor Marek Kozak (2004), Associate Professor Piotr Dutkiewicz (2005), and Associate Professor Andrzej Miszczuk (2006). Assistant Professor Katarzyna Zwalińska, connected with EUROREG since 2010, will soon apply for the position of Associate Professor.

EUROREG’s strength undoubtedly lies with our younger colleagues, most of them our former students – doctors Mikołaj Herbst (joined 1998), Anna Tucholska (1999), Maciej Smętkowski (2000), Karol Olejniczak (2001), Agnieszka Olechnicka (2004) and Adam Płoszaj (2006). Still preparing their doctoral theses are Dorota Celińska-Janowicz and Katarzyna Wojnar. The team is supported by very efficient technical and administrative staff: Edyta Czerwonka, Magdalena Kordzialek (temporarily substituted by Ilona Stańczyk), Anna Multańska, Jacek Tokaj, and Monika Wolska. Also some of our younger colleagues, who have just received MA or are writing their theses, cooperate on some of EUROREG’s projects. These are: Jakub Rok (MA), Paweł Śliwowski, and Tymoteusz Wronka (MA)).

Professor Stanisław M. Komorowski retired in 1990, and Professor Bogdan Kacprzyński suddenly died in 1995. Associate Professor Paweł Swianiewicz left our team twice; for the second time in 2004, together with Wojciech Dziemianowicz, PhD. For a couple of years (1996-2000) a colleague in our team was Professor Zyta Gilowska. Assistant Professor Paweł Gieorgica worked with us in 1991-1999, Assistant Professor Tomasz Zarycki in 1995-2000, and Wojciech Roszkowski in 1997-2001. In 1996 cooperation with EUROREG finished Mirosław Grochowski, PhD, and in 1999 Ms Agnieszka Mync, PhD.

The research profile of our Team has not changed since the very beginning. It has always been regional and local studies, as well as broadly defined spatial issues. Our research has also always been carried out in international perspective, and in growing cooperation within the European Union. In the last 35 years the Team has been consolidated by four large research projects: “Diagnosis of the state of Polish spatial economy”, “Local Poland”, “Central and Eastern Europe 2000”, and recently GRINCOH project under the 7th Framework Programme.

The “Diagnosis” was a country-wide project headed by Antoni Kukliński and conducted by National Spatial Development Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1981-1983. Employees of then existing Institute for Spatial Economy formed the core of the Team preparing the Diagnosis and also had coordinating functions. The Diagnosis changed the methods of conducting research on spatial processes in Poland and was also an important element of critical, but also objective, outlook on the situation in the People’s Republic of Poland. Much of its results remain valid until today, e.g. the statement of “defective urbanization” still proves right, and incompatibility of development of economic and urban settings in many cases still remains unresolved. The diagnosis is also the source of the statements regarding the role of natural environment in development and the necessity to rationally manage the natural resources.

“Local Poland” (1985-2000) is so far unsurpassed example of a large-scale research project with generous funding allowing for multi-annual research conducted in a broad, country-wide team. Today's financing and organization of Polish science – consisting of small, short-term individual grants – is a significant step backwards as compared to the practice of large “central issues”. It should be stressed that management of social sciences (at least within the scope of Local Poland – i.e. society’s economy, also informal one, including inter alia pathologies, as well as authority, e.g. local Party structures) by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education’s officials of that time allowed for full freedom of research and publication, which is confirmed by several dozen volumes, frequently published on “lifted” paper (as the necessity to obtain a paper ration was the most significant limitation!). Current presentation by some people of scientific research in so-called real socialism as constant torment, constraints, and ideological limitations does not – from the point of view of our research experiences – have much in common with reality. Comparison of the former ways of organizing and financing scientific research with today's model paradoxically presents a picture more critical of today’s situation.

“Local Poland” has offered the most comprehensive set of multidisciplinary – and sometimes even interdisciplinary – results of research on the demise of real socialism seen “from the bottom”, from the point of view of small-sized enterprises, small communities, local traditions, and power relations in communes and districts. The statements on power relations being dominated by family and friendship connections come precisely from “Local Poland”. The situation has not been overcome until today, and recently, quite unexpectedly, even worsened at the top power levels in the country. The situation from the demise of socialism seems to have more than rebuilt itself in the New Poland. The results of the programme undoubtedly contributed to planning re-creation of the local self-government in Poland – it is worth reminding that it was precisely “Local Poland” that popularized the 1985 World-Wide Declaration of Local Self-Government in our country.

“Central and Eastern Europe 2000” is the first large international project financed by the European Commission and led by EUROREG in 1991-1993. Over one hundred researchers from the Visegrád Group countries (at first three of them, then four: the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary) reflected on the future of their countries in the perspective of 2005 regarding economy, social, political and regional processes. In 2000 we made – which rarely happens in prospective studies – a self-assessment of our earlier projections. They turned out to be largely correct, especially regarding economic development and structural changes, political transformation, and changes of social structures. Simultaneously it turned out that at the beginning of 1990s we were too optimistic about the pace of European integration. We also underestimated difficulties in construction of modern political scene – even though the excessive expectations formulated 15 years ago have proven wrong only in recent years, and not only in Poland.
GRINCOH (Growth – Innovation – Competitiveness:

Fostering Cohesion in Central and Eastern Europe) is a project conducted under the 7th EU Framework Programme. EUROREG coordinates research conducted by 12 scientific institutions from Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Finland, Romania, Slovenia, Hungary, and Estonia. This is the first, and so far the only, case of a large social sciences project constituting part of a Framework Programme being coordinated by a Polish scientific institution.

GRINCOH concentrates on two large challenges to be faced by Central and Eastern European countries in the years to come shortly. First of them is adaptation to new, innovation-based model of development, ensuring long-term competitiveness and sustainable growth. Second is the creation of good conditions for citizens, allowing mobilization of various capitals ensuring socio-economic growth. The effect of GRINCOH is supposed to be: preparation of development scenarios for the region in the horizon of 2020; presenting their implications for processes of sustainable, innovation-based development and modernly understood cohesion, and consequently creation of a set of evidence-based recommendations for makers of pro-development policies.

Apart from the “large” research projects shortly described above EUROREG conducted many smaller ones: more than ten individual grants from the State Committee for Scientific Research, Ministry of Science (under its various organizational forms) and the National Science Centre, evaluations of EU funds' use, projects performed under EU Framework Programmes (two under 5th, one in 6th, and one 7th Framework Programme), and coordination of two ESPON projects (ESPON 1.2.3. Information Society and ESPON TERCO: European Territorial Cooperation as a Factor of Growth, Jobs and Quality of Life). Quantitative and qualitative results of these research projects are undoubtedly significant and noticeable not only in Poland, but also in European perspective. A proof of this appreciation was granting to EUROREG in 2012 the Regional Studies Association Institutional Ambassador Award. 

Three types of non-research EUROREG’s activities should be underlined: publications, didactics, and cooperation with practitioners. The Centre has its own publishing series (a couple of books per year, including publications in English), and since 2000 co-publishes (with the Polish Section of Regional Studies Association) the “Regional and Local Studies” Quarterly, which has already gained strong and stable position in the world of science. Both publishing projects are grounded in the tradition of “Local Poland”, whose research results were published in “Regional and Local Studies” series (counting about 70 volumes). EUROREG organizes international conferences resulting in publications in English. Two of them deserve special attention: Regional development in Central and Eastern Europe. Development processes and policy challenges, Routledge, London and New York, 2010, (edited by G.Gorzelak, J.Bachtler, and M.Smętkowski) and Universities, Cities and regions. Loci for Knowledge and Innovation creation, Routledge, London and New York, 2012 (edited by R.Capello, A.Olechnicka, and G.Gorzelak).

We are proud of our graduates and doctoral students. EUROREG graduates are appreciated specialists in central, regional, and local administration, companies (also foreign) dealing with consulting and training, as well as research institutions. Their future usefulness in professional career results, among other things, from the fact that EUROREG students frequently get involved in research work. Their master theses in many cases are original empirical studies, with quality results allowing for publication and quoting. All our doctoral students prepared their doctoral theses using supervisor research grants from the State Committee for Scientific Research and later on from the Ministry of Science and the National Science Centre; all their theses were published as books.

Cooperation with practitioners has a long tradition in out Team. “Diagnosis” was oriented very practically; its results were directly used in planning activities in the 1980s. The “Local Poland”’s results were not only based on “live” research on regional and local authorities, but also had their bearing on the construction of territorial self-government in Poland after 1990. Strategies of communes and provinces (in Poland and Ukraine), consultancy to ministers (also in Ukraine) – including particularly intensive ones to the Ministry of Regional Development, coordination of update to the National Spatial Development Concept for the former RCSS – are just some examples of this orientation towards practical application of research results. We have assumed a principle that we strictly observe: to cooperate with any government – but with no political party. This principle ensures that we maintain the necessary independence and objectivism, not influenced by political preferences and sympathies.

Of significant importance is also cooperation with international organizations, two of them in particular : the European Commission (especially DG Regio) and the World Bank. G. Gorzelak is a member of the Evaluation Network. Each year he and M. Kozak prepare a report on Cohesion Policy implications for development of Poland and its regions. Cooperation with the World Bank resulted in two joint publications on crisis and its results in Central and Eastern Europe: Financial Crisis in Central and Eastern Europe: From Similarity to Diversity, Scholar, Warszawa 2010, pp. 292 (editors: G.Gorzelak, Ch.Goh) and Adaptability and Change – the National and Regional Dimensions in Central and Eastern Europe, Scholar, Warsaw 2012 (editors: G.Gorzelak, Ch. Goh, and K. Fazekas).

Worth mentioning are initiatives combining all the aforementioned threads, e.g. Regional Development Academy implemented together with the Ministry of Regional Development (7 editions so far – with over 600 graduates), transferring the results of research conducted by EUROREG and its collaborators (also foreign) to the practitioners from ministries, regions, and communes – with support from two publications by the Ministry and subsequent volumes of “Regional and Local Studies”. We, the lecturers, also learn new things about Polish realities from theses prepared by students of the Academy. Similar in principles of its operation is the Evaluation Academy, active since 2008 (also in cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Development) It is a unique training programme supposed to raise the quality of the Polish evaluation and development management system by raising competences of people ordering and supervising evaluation research. The Academy also shows how evidence and results from research should be used in designing and implementing new public policies and debates with the media and the public.

The future of EUROREG looks good. First, we are not experiencing generation gap – older employees have their younger successors, who soon will be able to carry on the burden of research and their coordination. Second, the EUROREG’s reputation in Poland (1st category according to the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education) and in Europe – including the European Commission – guarantees our constant ability to obtain interesting and prestigious national and foreign research projects.