The research at the Department covers major sub-fields: International Relations, Political Science, European Studies, Balkan Studies and Albanian Politics. The Department’s main research objectives are to provide well evidenced research on the developments in Albania and wider in the Balkans and Mediterranean regions. The Department’s academic staff conduct research on contemporary issues such as democratization, security politics, human rights, regional integration, political economy, environmental politics, peace studies, gender and identity politics, and several other subjects.
The aim of the research in the Department is to prepare academicians and experts with specialized knowledge in their fields of interest. The Department supports the scientific publications of its lecturers and encourages conduct of joint research activities. Epoka University's platforms, such as forums, talks, lectures and symposia offer ample space for scientific exchange and the transfer of knowledge.
Currently, the PIR department is engaged in following research topics:
I. Political Perceptions and Participation of University Students in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia: The overall goal of the project is to provide first large survey on the opinions and political participations of university students in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. The project is further motivated by the need to democratize the process of formulation, conduct and implementation of Albanian public policy regarding youth and higher education by taking into consideration the real opinions of University students in these countries. To this end, the project aims to be unique in providing a platform that determines the impact of socio-cultural and religious identities on the views and behaviours of Albanian students on political participation. The project employs a scientific methodology based on surveys carried out from February 2014 through June 2015 with a valid representation sample of 700 to 1000 university students above the age of 18 in each country. This survey will hopefully assist scholars, policy-makers and the general public in understanding the opinions, hopes and concerns of the Albanian students on general political issues and in their political and voting behaviours.
Contacts: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Salih Özcan, email@example.com.
II. State of democracy in the western Balkan countries: This research studies the state of democracy in the western Balkan countries. It is composed of four different sections:
1. Comparative research on the state of democracy in the western Balkan countries: This section is about conduct of comparative research on the state of democracy in the western Balkan countries, a quarter of century after transition started. It focuses on the causes, ongoings, conditions, and outcomes of democratization in those countries.
Research section contacts: Assist. Prof. Dr. Avdi Smajljaj, firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Impact of the EU conditionality on Western Balkan countries: This section focuses on inquiring the factors that have an impact on the strength of the conditionality that the EU has exercised on Western Balkan countries aiming at joining the organization. Practically the EU has made the progress of candidate countries at the various stages that would ultimately lead to EU full membership conditional on the proper fulfilment of political, economic, legal and administrative reforms leading to full compliance with the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership. The effectiveness of this conditionality rests firstly on the credibility of the EU ‘anchor’, i.e. the credibility of the EU membership prospects on one hand, and on the commitment of the national political class to conduct the necessary reforms, on the other hand. The Europeanization literature that has developed during the last decade has also provided a well-established theoretical framework to this new scholarly area. This research section carries an inter-disciplinary dimension also including issues that relate to political economy, democratisation, ethnic conflict and crisis management, geopolitics as well as the development of European security institutions and their policies towards the Western Balkans.
Research section contacts: Dr. Niuton Mulleti, email@example.com.
3. Peace education and Conflict transformation in Balkans: The research looks to the issue from different perspectives. Peace Studies - How do states define inner and outer peace? How can we teach peace at university level? How can social science curriculums increase awareness of peace and stimulate civic involvement in national and international peace projects?. Conflict Analysis - What enforces and what weakens social cohesion? What role do identities, emotions, and relationships play in determining conflict dynamics? How much are conflicts about power, status, and development and how can justice intervene in the conflict resolution process?. Ethnic Politics - What are the political implications of ethnic cleavages and ethnic conflicts in the Balkan region? How does ethnicity matter in determining social and political behavior of groups and states? Does understanding ethnic diversity help manage violent conflicts?
Research section (Peace education) contacts: Dr. Reina Shehi, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research section (Conflict transformation) contacts: MSc. Jubjana Vila Zeka, email@example.com.
4. Two nations, four states compared: Austria and Germany, Albania and Kosovo: This research section compares the relationship between Germany and Austria on the one hand, and between Albania and Kosovo on the other. The model of relationship between Germany and Austria is important to consider for another pair of states Albania and Kosovo. This research project researches particularly on how engagement with the European Union (EU) has changed the nature of relationship between the two separate states from the same nation. It examines developments between 1995 and 2016 in four European countries (four states – two nations), whose engagement with the EU is at different stages: one state that has been a founding member of the EU (Germany); one that joined in 1995 (Austria), one projected to join (Albania); and one moving to integration (Kosovo). Relationships among these countries have been driven by the EU and there has been substantial procedural and institutional change. The relationships have changed as more actors and factors have become engaged. In this light, the research explores the interaction of the relationships among these states and assesses the degree to which the engagement with the European Union has changed the relationship among these states. The relationship between Austria and Germania is central to what Albania and Kosovo are and aspire to become, and goes to the heart of many of the key issues confronting the EU and the Balkans region. The research draws on interviews to explore actor motivation, preferences and perceptions. The research considers broader relations between Austria and Germania at a time when the EU’s effectiveness is under close scrutiny as regards the relations between Albania and Kosovo. The research is of interest to students and scholars of foreign policy, European politics, public policy, governance.
Research section contacts: Dr. Islam Jusufi, firstname.lastname@example.org.
III. Progress of Albania as regards the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals: the focus on children: The research reviews in general the progress that Albania has achieved as regards the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, it focuses on children.
Contacts: M.Sc. Eglantina Farruku, email@example.com.