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This course is archived
Course date
July 3–9, 2023
Application deadline
The application deadline has passed. We are no longer accepting applications.
ECTS Credits
Course delivery
SUN Packages
Tuition Waiver
Partial Scholarship
Full Scholarship

Around the world, democracies are breaking down. Many are being dismantled from within while others face attacks from without. In both cases, the issues underlying democracy’s erosion are not superficial but deeply entrenched and complex. As a result, democracies will not be renewed without considerable effort. Technical fixes imposed from above may slow democratic degeneration, but they cannot reverse it. Rebuilding democracy—fortifying its institutions and advancing its project—takes a movement from below.

Yet, when it comes to social mobilization, democratic societies tend to be apprehensive. A handful of exceptionally civil, organized, and focused social movements may serve as evidence of a dynamic public sphere and a healthy democratic culture. But far more often, democratic governments respond to social mobilization with less enthusiasm, treating it as anything from a nuisance to a threat. After all, what democratic purpose could social mobilization fulfill in a society with fair elections, democratic representation, and independent courts? Given the growing frequency, intensity, scale, and volatility of twenty-first century social mobilizations in democratic societies, it is difficult to see them simply as a confirmation of democratic flourishing or evidence of its undoing. Instead, from Indian farmers to Canadian truckers and Colombian taxpayers, from the Black Lives Matter movement to the Yellow Vests, these mobilizations index social, political, cultural, and economic crises that democratic governments have failed to address. In this context, what is the relationship between social mobilization and democracy? Do loosely networked local protests in disparate contexts share a global anatomy? When are social mobilizations a threat to democracy and when are they the foundation of its renewal?

The aim of It Takes a Movement is to re-examine the relationship between social mobilization and democracy by attending to the stunning complexity and diversity of twenty-first century protests and social movements. The course will employ a global perspective, comparing social mobilizations across different democratic contexts, tracing transnational connections and fissures, and establishing common features. To this end, the course will foster a robust dialogue among students, activists, and scholars assembled from all over the world. Students will leave the course with a deeper understanding of the fraught relationship between democracy and social mobilization as well as new questions and ideas about how it might be productively addressed.

The course will fund a minimum of twenty students and reserves one third of available spaces for applicants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Target Group

The course invites applications from humanities and social science graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and junior faculty who have received their Ph.D. within the last 5 years. Applications from advanced undergraduate students will also be considered. 

The course admits and fully funds a minimum of twenty students and reserves one-third of available spaces for applicants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We envision that the course may be of interest to young scholars seeking to understand democracy’s present challenges from a wide array of (inter)disciplinary investments including: anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, gender studies, globalization/transnational studies, legal studies, philosophy, political science, political theory, postcolonial studies, social movement studies, and sociology.


Participants need to be conducting research related to the course’s core themes and questions. 

Language requirements

The language of instruction is English; thus, all applicants have to demonstrate a strong command of spoken and written English to be able to participate actively in discussions at seminars and workshops. Some of the shortlisted applicants may be contacted for a telephone interview.

The course will focus on the following discipline areas:

  • Anthropology
  • Area studies
  • Communication studies
  • Cultural studies
  • Gender studies
  • Globalization/Transnational studies
  • Legal studies
  • Philosophy
  • Political science
  • Political theory
  • Postcolonial studies
  • Social movement studies
  • Sociology 

"The course was excellent. The academic discussions were advanced, but easy to follow and they were extremely engaging and fascinating. We were introduced to complex issues and ideas in a very approachable way, and I feel that the faculty also treated us as capable of advanced deliberation which made the atmosphere nice and accommodating, and I personally benefited from it greatly."

"The course was useful in exposing me to different strands of thought on these topics, in enabling me to meet students and professors from around the world doing interesting work, and in locating my own work in a broader conversation. I hope to maintain these connections and be able to more directly situate my work in the tradition of debates on democracy."

"The course was very useful in that I was able to connect my research question to a larger theoretical debate and was able to engage with others in that discussion."

"The course used diverse examples from international faculty. Very insightful and challenging."

Please read the following directions carefully. 
Below is the list of the documents you need to prepare or arrange for submission:

  1. Online SUN Application Form (see notes below)
  2. Curriculum Vitae or Resume (including a list of publications, if any)
  3. Statement of Purpose (max. 1 page)
    Please describe how the course is relevant to your teaching, research, studies, or professional work, and in what way you expect to benefit from your participation.
    You are advised to consult the course description on the course webpage so that the statement of purpose is in accordance with the main objectives of the course.
    Please provide a name, contact email, and phone number of a person (a faculty member, job supervisor, etc.) who can be contacted by the course directors to attest to your abilities, qualifications, and academic/professional performance.
  4. Personal Statement on Financial Aid
    Those who are eligible and wish to apply for financial aid should specify their reasons in the “Personal statement on financial aid” section (Funding page of the application form). 

Optional attachments:
You can upload further optional documents on the Qualifications page such as academic documents that you think may be relevant to support your application in the 'Other Supporting Documents' section. All documents should be merged into a single PDF file not exceeding the size 2 MB. No passwords and encryption are allowed.

Completed CEU Summer University Application Form

We strongly advise the use of Google Chrome to enable the full functionality of the form.


  • You may apply to a maximum of two summer courses. In case of being admitted, you can only attend both if the two courses do not overlap in time.
  • If you applied to CEU before, please use your existing login and password to start a new application. If you do not remember your password from last year click on Forgotten Password. With technical problems, bugs, or errors related to the online application forms please contact the CEU IT Help Desk.
  • Right after login, please select the ”Summer University” radio button from the "Type of course" list, and leave all other fields empty.
  • All application materials must be submitted with the online application form(s). Materials sent by postal mail, electronic mail, or fax are not considered.
  • The maximum allowable file size for upload is 2MB per file and the acceptable file formats are PDF, JPG, and JPEG. Ensure all security features (e.g. passwords and encryption) are removed from the documents before uploading them.
  • Applications cannot be edited after submission. Please submit your application only when it is 100% final and complete.
  • Further user instructions for the online application are included in the form itself. Should you have questions regarding the application form, check the relevant Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


If you need help or more information during the application process, please feel free to contact the SUN staff via email.


The SUN Office will notify applicants about the selection results in April. Please check the 'Dates and deadlines' section on the relevant course websites for notification deadlines planned earlier or later. The final decision is not open to appeal.