The International Centre for Transition Studies, a section of the Department of Political Science, was established in 2000. It involves a group of persons from different educational backgrounds, generations and places who collaborate and discuss with one another commencing from their research and the common need to broaden horizons through interacting with and learning of other spheres of knowledge. The Centre has progressively become an integral part of a scientific network that comprises other Italian and foreign research institutions.
The work of the Centre's members is inspired by the academic tradition that has its roots in English and American campuses of the XIX century and which considers history as the science of politics. This conception does not seek to find solutions for the present or indeed the future from studying the past. Knowledge of the most intimate nature of politics dictates that one must avoid all temptation to reduce it to technical aspects and for this reason to give weight to the notion that outcomes are predetermined. Precisely the centrality of personal choice in the political process highlights how knowledge of the past, interacting with other knowledge, can contribute to determining decisions and actions when faced with unpredictable scenarios. This approach evidently enables history to go beyond the confines of learning and mere reconstruction of the past thereby creating a profitable relationship with the present. At the same time it should encourage the art of governing to be more aware, removing the opposing and sometimes converging risks of ideology and intuition.
The interests of the researchers who work with ICETS (http://www.luiss.it/ricerca/dipartimenti/dsssp/icets.html) concentrate mainly on reconstructing and analysing the processes of transition that have characterised modern European history from WWI to the present age, especially the development, consolidation and interconnection of three enormously important historical phenomena: democratisation, a new wave of countries and the process of European integration.
More precisely, the following lines of research are developed:
- the transition towards democracy in Western European countries in the aftermath of WWII, with special reference to the reconstruction from a comparative standpoint of European political systems;
- the political-institutional transition of the 'second wave' of countries with special reference to Europe's role in those processes;
- the transition in the countries of the former Soviet block through examining the causes that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire and the consequences thereof on internal politics (social, economic, political and institutional changes as well as ethnic conflict) and external policies towards the satellite states;
- developments in Western countries to face up to the challenges of globalisation, with reference to the processes of economic, social and political redefinition;
- the role of information and knowledge as a vehicle for speeding up transition processes, with special reference to technological innovation, reduction of the cost of basic services and the spread and strengthening of SMEs.
This determines also the nature of the Centre's work, which seeks to be open to international contributions, a multidisciplinary approach and comparison.
ICETS and the numerous university research groups associated with it disseminate part of the results of their research on transition through traditional means of publishing including the political history journal Ventunesimo Secolo, edited by Gaetano Quagliariello and Victor Zaslavsky, and the series of studies called Le Ragioni degli Storici.
The Centre also seeks to foster public awareness through conceiving and organising conferences, round tables and series of seminars involving persons from the world of research, politics and government generally.