Description of the doctoral programme
within the Networked Transdisciplinary Doctoral Studies
available at the Faculty of Artes Liberales and Faculty of History, University of Warsaw


Searching/seeking identity, defending identity, changing identity, awareness of identity – in contemporary times these are phenomena occurring all the time in different circumstances and forms of social development. Here, identity is understood, in the most general terms, to mean the capacity for existing and an awareness of distinctness. The question of identity is important to “relic” or “marginal” societies, whether they are seeking paths of modernization or withdrawing from the reach of modernity/globalization, or even in danger of extinction. The same questions are faced by communities which do not have a state structure but strive to preserve their distinct character, or seek self-determination as an essential form of survival. Finally, problems with identity are a characteristic of all human communities facing the prospect of having to cope with challenges (such as modernization) that are the result of globalization, and with barriers to development which are the effect of a colonial or totalitarian legacy. Any reflection on the awareness of existence and distinctness as a universal phenomenon requires an interdisciplinary approach. With this in mind, as part of its Networked Doctoral Studies, the University of Warsaw’s Faculty of Artes Liberales has decided to set up a PhD programme that is a research project at the same time.

Foundations of the planned research

The Searching Identity research project focuses on all forms of solving identity problems by invoking the results and achievements of earlier work and projects which have been conducted over more than a decade at the Faculty of Artes Liberales. We study issues related to the identity of groups, societies, nations in different periods and places, using the methodologies of many humanities disciplines. In this particular project we want to achieve interdisciplinarity without sacrificing the conscientious use of the achievements of many disciplines. We want to provide the programme’s participants with knowledge on methodological proposals developed from general systems theory and drawing upon the achievements of the new humanities. 

The programme’s objectives

The aim of the programme is to integrate research on identity undertaken in different areas of the humanities and social sciences with studying and preparing a doctoral dissertation.
We are addressing this proposal primarily to people interested in an academic career involving areas described as post-Soviet, in which societies – whether in sovereign states or without a state of their own – are aware of the distinctness of their identity and display the capacity to define their civilizational affiliation. They are the societies of today’s Eastern Europe, or Central-Eastern Europe, Russia as well as societies known as local nations of Siberia and other communities of the former Soviet Union.
At the same time, we want to situate the programme within the context of activity for the public good. Such a programme is needed in the humanities in Poland and beyond, wherever investigating and studying key problems of identity involves taking responsibility for the future of human communities. We intend to offer PhD students the possibility of asking themselves new questions and finding unconventional solutions which will be useful to their communities.
The programme is open to any and all research initiatives and any kind of quest for solutions which are connected with understanding identity as the capacity for existence, and thus also for self-identification. This is an extraordinarily broad complex of issues, from theoretical reflection all the way to practical activity.


The programme is being proposed not only because we believe in the importance of the identification of human communities as a condition of survival, but also because we see the importance of combining research on social change with activities for the right of communities to determine their own future. This belief in commitment to defending identity or to processes of seeking identification for “traditional communities in a global world” in no way overshadows our concern to maintain proper care not only as regards any interference of research with processes of social change but also as regards understanding our own role in terms of commitment to the public good.
Studying the search for identity is treated as a broad task in which the main objective is to capture the relationship between challenges (on a global scale, but translated into a local one) and the capacity of societies for solving problems using their own resources (defined as local tradition but having a universal aspect). In this way we want to foster the expansion of research perspectives identified as cooperation for change. However, the programme is not headed in an expert direction and does not intend to propose practical solutions. The aim is strictly scientific, though embedded in a broader reflection on the academic community’s obligations towards society.
This orientation of the research does not mean it will be limited to contemporary issues. On the contrary, we attach great importance to historical research in the programme. We are interested in the past and the future in equal measure.

Applying for the programme

Candidates for the programme submit applications addressed to the head of the Networked Doctoral Studies by following the guidelines posted on the website of the Faculty of Artes Liberales. Candidates who meet the formal criteria are invited to a qualifying interview. This is usually held in November. Work in the Networked Doctoral Studies always commences in the summer semester.

The work

The essence of the programme lies in combining studying with a research project. Classes will be designed to fit in with the planned research. The PhD students will also have the opportunity to take part in other projects conducted at the faculty. Among other things, this will involve contributing to the faculty’s academic periodicals, taking part in discussions at the sessions held as part of the faculty’s research programmes and in scientific conferences.
To carry out these plans, the project entitled Searching Identity: Social Transformation Mechanisms During Historical Watersheds has been submitted to the National Programme for the Development of Humanities.
The PhD students’ work will include learning and research as two inseparable processes in a scholar’s development. This is why we propose a unique form of studies involving a joint seminar of professors and PhD students. This format was tested during the three years of the international PhD programme called The Traditions of Mediterranean Humanism and the Challenges of Our Times: The Frontiers of Humanity. It is based on developing a collaboration in conditions of equal partnership and in the practice of dialogue. This means that the PhD students will also be obliged to help design the seminar programme and conduct some of the seminars.
One special form of work is a continuous evaluation during the seminar, irrespective of credits obtained for other classes. At each seminar meeting, presentations by the PhD students (reports, contributing to discussions, conducting a seminar, presenting excerpts from dissertations) will be subjected to a peer review and evaluated by the professors. The awarded grades, which the moderator will gather over the week following a given meeting, will be communicated to the participants together with any comments. The grades together with the opinions of tutors and advisors will be part of the final credit for each semester. That is why, besides the programme of classes, the PhD students also have to follow the guidelines that describe their tasks throughout the programme and in particular set specific deadlines for submitting consecutive parts of their dissertations. Participation in the seminar meetings is mandatory, even if work on a dissertation requires the student to be outside the faculty headquarters.


The syllabus is designed within the general formula used for doctoral studies.

Type of class Number of hours ECTS points
Mandatory classes
PhD seminar 120 20
Introduction to interdisciplinarity 30 5
Research - taking part in the work of laboratories, research groups, and committees of the Faculty of Artes Liberales 60 15
Optional classes
taking part in conferences, workshops, and research sessions 45 5
University teaching 15 5
Methodology of interdisciplinary classes 15 5
Teaching traineeship 15 5

This general outline will be adjusted to fit each PhD student’s individual needs. That also means enabling the PhD students to obtain knowledge in fields needed to apply the interdisciplinary approach in practice. To supplement their education, they will be able to take part in selected classes available at the University of Warsaw.
The PhD students will work not only with their supervising tutor. As part of the programme seminar, they will gain the opportunity to work with a second tutor, whom we usually seek outside the faculty or in another country. They will also be able to take advantage of the experience and advice of academic advisors. These advisors are selected from among the professors involved in the seminar.

Scholars taking part in the programme seminar:

Prof. Jan Kieniewicz, PhD hab. (head of the programme)
Prof. Taras Finnikov, PhD hab. (moderator of the PhD students’ work)
Prof. Jolanta Sujecka, PhD hab.
Prof. Ewa Łukaszyk, PhD hab.
Hieronim Grala, PhD
Prof. Zbigniew Kloch, PhD hab.