Call for Applications: Summer School “Uncovering Pathways of Change along the Belt and Road”

Venice, San Servolo Island, Italia
1-7th Sep 2019
Deadline: 30th Apr 2019

Marco Polo (MaP) – Centre for Global Europe-Asia Connections

Our purpose is training young scholars and practitioners for a critical and ethically grounded study of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The School draws from the concept of cosmopolitanism and its vision of a global community of fate, committed to overcoming anthropogenic threats to the survival and thriving of natural ecosystems and human civilization. Trainees will uncover potentials and shortcomings of the BRI in fostering change towards this goal, by exploring four inter-related pathways: political economy, environmental sustainability, science and technology, citizenship and participation.

Contents and schedule

The School is informed by a Theory-U approach. Its 5 phases aim at assisting trainees in envisioning BRI’s potentials and shortcomings with respect to cosmopolitan change.

Phase 1. Co-initiating, September 1 and 2. The initial stage will lay down a cognitive common ground among participants. Trainees will be guided through a critical review of three core concepts and relevant theoretical milieus: cosmopolitanism, modernization, and development.

Phase 2. Co-sensing, September 3-4. Trainees will engage with in-depth empirical analyses of change and challenges related to the BRI across four areas:

(a) Political economy. The restructuring of the Eurasian economic fabric;
Institutions of socio-economic governance.

(b) Environmental sustainability. Global institutions for sustainability;
Processes of environmental planning.

(c) Science and technology. Trends in Eurasian S&T cooperation;
Establishment of global energy networks.

(d) Citizenship and participation. Windows of opportunity for bottom-up
public participation; BRIs’ impacts on political institutions.

Phase 3. Reflecting and inspiring, September 5. Trainees will be invited to uncover sources of inspiration, conducive to a deeper engagement with the BRI. They will engage with concrete experiences of agents of change who have employed the BRI as a window of opportunity to reflect on/act for transformation in the realms of socio-economic development, environmental sustainability, and/or technology.

Phase 4. Co-creating, September 6. Trainees will chart desirable future courses of BRI, vis-à-vis cosmopolitan scenarios. To do so, they will employ conceptual tools provided in phase 1, empirical evidence made available in phase 2, and sources of inspiration unearthed in phase 3. The cocreative process will be assisted by facilitators and structured along the four pathways of change explored in phase 2 (economy-environment-S&T-participation & citizenship).

Phase 5. Harvesting (September 7, half day). Lessons learnt during the Summer School will be shared and discussed with/among the trainees.

Learning outcomes

The School’s learning outcomes span across the cognitive, emotional, and relational spheres. The first regards theoretical and empirical knowledge: the School will provide trainees with tools to comprehend the analytical and normative dimensions of cosmopolitanism and its relevance for the study of the BRI. They will be given access to state-of-the art, interdisciplinary scholarship on BRI’s current and foreseen impacts on global political economy and socioeconomic development, environmental sustainability, science and technology, and about its influence on public participation and political institutions. Besides, trainees will experience first-hand innovative learning and facilitation processes, based on a co-creation approach. On the emotional level, the School will provide trainees with a unique possibility to unearth sources of inspiration related to their professional and individual engagement with the BRI. This inner-drive will hopefully contribute to the establishment of a forward-looking community of young scholars and practitioners, sharing a common ethical commitment.

Our lecturers

Our international team of lecturers consists of academics and practitioners covering a wide array of disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, environmental sciences, and engineering. We have been careful in ensuring the complementarity of their fields of expertise, in order to lay the basis for an interdisciplinary experience. The complete list of lecturers and their profiles will be made available soon!


All-but-dissertation MA students, PhD students, and Post-docs are all eligible to apply. The Summer School warmly welcomes practitioners from the private, public, and non-governmental sectors.

Availability of positions

The School will host 26 trainees. 13 positions are reserved for applicants from the East Asia Net (EAN) and Venice Ca’ Foscari University-Heidelberg University joint phd program in Asian Studies.

Fees and financial support

MA Students, PhD Students : Free, inclusive of food and accomodation in double room

Post-Docs: 500 Euro, inclusive of food and accomodation in double room

Practitioners: 500 Euro, inclusive of food and accomodation in double room

Travel grants are available to a limited number of applicants based in extra-European countries.

How to apply

Your application must contain (a) a curriculum vitae, complete with lists of symposia attended and publication list (if any); and (b) a cover letter (max. 300 words) stating your motivations for joining the School and your expectations about it. Your CV and cover letter should be sent in pdf format to Silvia Casalini at

Important dates

Deadline for applications: April 30, 2019 (23:59 CET)
Notification of acceptance: May 30, 2019
Summer School: September 1-7, 2019

Logistics and support for trainees with disabilities

The Summer School will be held on the beautiful island of San Servolo. Your accomodation will be on the island too. We are aware that Venice can be tough to visit if you have a physical disability. If you have any disability requiring special care or attention, please make sure to tell us in advance, so that we can support your mobility services to/from San Servolo Island.

If you need further information, write to

Download this announcement as PDF: MaP_Summer School 2019_Call [1.7]