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Transregional Center for Democratic Studies records

 Record Group
Identifier: NS-02-26-02


The New School Graduate Faculty established the East and Central Europe Program in 1990, expanding to become the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies (TCDS) in 1997, to foster dialogue on democratic theory and practice in East and Central Europe, Central America and southern Africa, among other regions. The collection documents the center’s events, seminars, workshops, and conferences. Also includes research and course files of TCDS founder, Elzbieta Matynia.


  • 1978-2013



6.9 Cubic Feet (8 boxes and 112 audiovisual recordings)

58 1/4 inch Audio Cassette

36 VHS Cassettes

13 hi8

5 minidv

5.44 Gigabytes (542 files migrated from 13 CD-Rs and 2 floppy disks )

13 CDs

2 floppy disks

Scope and Contents

Series I, General, predominantly consists of information related to the East and Central Europe Program and Transregional Center for Democratic Studies Graduate Summer Institutes, as well as seminars, lectures, conferences, and other events. Materials include promotional fliers, event programs, informal photographs of lectures and gatherings, syllabi, and schedules, as well as office files coordinating travel, lodging, and logistical matters associated with managing programs in Poland, South Africa, Mexico, and Germany that brought together students and scholars from many different countries. The series also includes a comprehensive series of the publication, East and Central Europe Program Bulletin (later, Transregional Center for Democratic Studies Bulletin), from 1990-2009, as well as several working papers produced by the ECEP to facilitate communication among the Democracy Seminar Network. The format of files migrated from CD-Rs and floppy disks include .doc, .aifc, .jpeg, .tiff, and .xls.

Series II, Granting Agencies, includes award letters, reports, drafts, internal administrative correspondence, as well as correspondence with funders and program participants, and background materials, often in the form of program announcements and curricula. There is some redundancy in these files, largely because sections of applications and reports were frequently repurposed and sometimes revised for various purposes over time. Applications include ancillary materials, such as program announcements, that may be found elsewhere in this collection. Most of the documentation concerns funding supporting the Democracy and Diversity Summer Institutes in Poland and South Africa, with some files related to funding for the East and Central Europe Program, more broadly, as well as for more targeted funding for conferences, students, fellows, and faculty from around the world to enable them to attend East and Central Europe and Transregional Center for Democratic Studies programs.

Series III, Reports, is comprised primarily of formal reports on the center's Summer Graduate Institutes in Poland and South Africa produced in fulfillment of the terms of agreement with granting agencies.

Series IV. Elzbieta Matynia's files, consists of research materials, papers, and notes for courses that Matynia both participated in and taught at The New School and Bard College. Files in .doc format were migrated from floppy disk.

Series V. Program applications, contains applications of candidates who were accepted to TCDS programs, primarily the Summer Graduate Institutes in Poland and South Africa. Materials include personal statements and correspondence. Except for several digital office files related to the 2005 Krakow Summer Institute, this series is restricted for 75 years from creation of the materials, or upon death of individual applicants, whichever is longer. Format of files migrated from CD-R include .doc and .rtf.

Series VI. Audiovisual recordings, includes an assortment of audio and video cassettes documenting Transregional Center for Democratic Studies programs and events, as well as independent and commercially released films, largely focused on topics related to international democratic movements, in particular in Poland and South Africa. Titles are transcribed from the jacket of the cassettes and have not been previewed. Many of the recordings of TCDS programs indicate that they were filmed by Richard W. Adams. These recordings have not been digitized, although a number of them may be available in digital form through other libraries.

Language of Materials

Most materials are in English, but some, particularly Elzbieta Matynia's notes in Series IV, are in Polish.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use, with the exception of most of the files in Series V, Program applications, which are restricted for 75 years from creation of document or upon death of the individual concerned, whichever is longer, in accordance with The New School Archives’ confidentiality policy. Recordings on audio and video cassettes have not been digitized and may not be available for listening in their original format. They may be digitized at the researchers' expense. Please contact for details.

Conditions Governing Use

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical Note

Elzbieta Matynia is a professor of sociology and liberal studies at the New School for Social Research. She received her PhD in 1979 from the University of Warsaw in Poland, before moving to the United States in 1980. Matynia worked as a visiting professor at The New School before accepting positions at Bard College and Sarah Lawrence College, eventually returning to The New School in 1986, where she was hired as an adjunct professor. Her research is in political and cultural sociology, with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe and issues of gender and democracy. She was the coordinator of the East and Central Europe Program (ECEP) until its replacement in 1997 by the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, where she remains the founding director. Matynia took over the chair of the New York Democracy Seminar in 1990, and organized the International Democracy Seminars from 1990-1994.

Historical Note

The Democracy Seminars were the genesis of what is, in 2022, the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies (TCDS), a research institute at The New School for Social Research (NSSR) founded by New School professor of sociology and liberal studies, Elzbieta Matynia, in New York City in the spring of 1997.

TCDS was established to accommodate the expanding activities of the East and Central Europe Program (ECEP), which was founded by Matynia at The New School in 1990. ECEP emerged out of the Democracy Seminars, a semi-clandestine series of seminars on democratic politics and culture initially held in New York, Warsaw, and Budapest from 1984 until the mid-1990s, with Matynia overseeing the New York seminar at the time of ECEP’s establishment. In response to the revolutions of 1989, which saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and of communism across Eastern Europe, the Graduate Faculty at the New School (which was re-named NSSR in 2005) established ECEP, "to assist regional efforts to revitalize scholarly life in the social sciences." Using the network established by the Democracy Seminars, the program initially encompassed five countries: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The reorganization of ECEP as a component of the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies allowed for the TCDS to expand its scope to other regions, such as Central Asia, Latin America, and Southern Africa.

TCDS’s most notable initiative is the Democracy & Diversity Institute, an annual graduate-level summer program first held in Krakow, Poland in 1992, and moving to Wroclaw in 2009. A South African institute was held from 1999-2009 in Cape Town, and from 2012-2015 in Johannesburg. The institute is open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students worldwide, and offers courses in the social sciences and humanities, centered around a theme which reflects current issues in politics and political thought. The program awards a certificate to non-New School students, while New School students receive course credit. From 1997-1999, TCDS also held The American Experience Summer Institute in New York, an American counterpart to the Democracy Seminars for international students.

From 1997 until 2010, TCDS oversaw the Journal Donation Project, which solicited donated or discounted subscriptions to social science periodicals from academic publishers for libraries throughout the world. In 2010, the project was taken over by the new Center for Public Scholarship, which oversaw it until the project’s end in 2018.

ECEP and then TCDS published a biannual journal called Bulletin, which contained essays and letters sent in from affiliates of the Center engaged in fieldwork around the world. Bulletin was published until 2009.

After the Kosovo War in 1999, the TCDS launched Towards an Architecture of Peace, a program that aimed to expand the Democracy Seminars and many other TCDS initiatives into Kosovo and Serbia. In 2015, the TCDS established the NSSR-Europe Collective, an alumni network for TCDS and New School graduates in Europe that supports initiatives related to academic freedom, civil society and public scholarship.

TCDS has also provided a number of teaching fellowships, many of them inherited from ECEP. These include the Democracy Fellowship for advanced graduate students in Eastern and Central Europe and the Visiting Professorship in Democracy for early-career academics.

As of 2020, Elzbieta Matynia continues to direct the TCDS. The TCDS has also at times had an International Steering Committee, composed of “Special International Advisors”: distinguished scholars from outside The New School, representing the various regions TCDS was concerned with. This committee was chaired by the president of The New School.


“Transregional Center for Democratic Studies”, 21 Feb. 2002, Internet Archive,

Graduate Faculty 1997 -1998 Vol. 54 No. 8 (1997): 10. New School Archives and Special Collections Digital Archive. 03 April 2020

Matynia, E. “From Assistance and Mutual Learning: to Partnership: The Experience of the Graduate Faculty’s East and Central Europe Program”, German-American Academic Council Conference, Halle, Germany, November 1995.

New School for Social Research 2011-2012 Vol. 69 No. 2 (2011): 67. New School Archives and Special Collections Digital Archive. 03 April 2020

“The American Experience”,, 21 Feb 2002, Internet Archive,

“Transregional Center for Democratic Studies East and Central Europe Program Bulletin, Vol. 9/4 (Issue 34) – February, 2000”,, 21 Feb 2002, Internet Archive,

NSSR-Europe, NSSR-Europe Declaration (2015). Transregional Center for Democratic Studies. 03 April 2020

“The Pew Charitable Trusts Democracy Fellowships, 1992-1995“,, 4 Feb. 1998, Internet Archive,

Organization and Arrangement

Organized in six series; Series I, II, IV, and V are arranged alphabetically; Series III is organized chronologically by year within each program. Series VI is arranged in chronological order according to dates transcribed from the cassette jackets, with undated recordings preceding dated ones.

  1. General
  2. Granting Agencies
  3. Reports
  4. Elzbieta Matynia files
  5. Program applications
  6. Audiovisual recordings

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the offices of the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies in 2018.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds the Jeffrey Goldfarb papers (NA.0016.01), which documents Goldfarb's long engagement with the Democracy Seminars, the East and Central Europe Program, and the subject of democratic movements in Eastern Europe. Other related collections in the New School Archives include the Democracy Seminar oral history project (NS.07.01.06), the Journal Donation Project records (NS.02.26.01), and the New School for Social Research Office of the Dean records (NS.02.02.03).

Institutional Support

The processing of this collection was supported by the New School for Social Research Office of the Dean and the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies.

Guide to the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies records
Jack Wells, Brian Bartholomew, and New School Archives staff
September 23, 2022
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