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“Illiberal Democracies and Democratic Backsliding in Europe”

Braga, Portugal

August 28th – September 2nd, 2023

(Arrival: August 27th, Departure: September 3rd)

Rolling Acceptances


For more than two decades, from 1978 to 2010, democratic advances showed dominance over democratic deterioration, effectively putting the world in a period of democratisation (Lindberg, 2018, p. 1). However, since then, democratic backsliding has increased to a point where, by all measures, the world can be considered to be in a period of autocratisation (Lindberg, 2018, p. 3). According to V-Dem data, regressions have been noted on multiple fronts: media harassment and censorship, freedom of discussion, civil society organisation repression, electoral body independence, opposition party autonomy, academic and cultural expression, and election irregularities (V-Dem Institute, 2018), while experts agree that Europe’s democratic status has regressed by approximately 40 years (Lindberg, 2018, p. 3).

Against this backdrop, the IAPSS Summer School 2023 aims to engage students of all levels with the intention of stimulating thought-provoking dialogue. Democracy in Europe needs to be dissected and examined in these contentious environments to determine the way forward for the world’s democratic stronghold. Under the constant threat of democratic backsliding lurking over the continent, it is of the utmost importance that Europe further consolidates and advances its democratic norms, checks, and balances. To do so, European democracies have to guard themselves against authoritarian actors and tendencies (Freedom House, 2020).

During the IAPSS Summer School 2023, various scholars and experts will present thought-provoking lectures with regard to these divisive issues in European democracy. Additionally, attendees will be afforded the opportunity to, among other things, immerse themselves in a human library comprised of political activists while also sharpening their academic skills during multiple workshops, and stimulating their competitive side with political games. Throughout the duration of the IAPSS Summer School 2023, participants will be expected to work in groups and author papers pertaining to the theme of the summer school. The IAPSS Summer School 2023 is poised to be a stimulating and highly interactive environment where students of all levels will constructively contribute towards the democratic dialogue and the future of democracy in Europe.


Freedom House. (2020). Policy Recommendations: Democracy in Europe and Eurasia. Freedom House:

Lindberg, S. I. (2018). The Nature of Democratic Backsliding in Europe. Carnegie Europe.

V-Dem Institute. (2018). V-Dem Annual Democracy Report 2018: Democracy for All? Gothenburg, Sweden: University of Gothenburg. 

How to apply:

Students from all levels are invited to submit their application. Individuals interested in participating in the IAPSS Summer School 2023 are requested to submit a written application containing (1) a short CV (max. two pages, without photograph), (2) a letter of motivation (max. two pages), and (3) an abstract (max 250 words) for an original academic article on the theme. In addition, to the presentations required, there would also be the possibility of publishing the work presented in one of the IAPSS publications.

The selection process will be run on a first-come-first-serve basis until the maximum number of participants has been reached. During the IAPSS Summer School 2023, all participants will work further on their abstracts, improved by the lectures provided and discussion among peers, while receiving support from workshop conductors. Next to lectures and discussion sessions, workshops dealing with the research methods will be offered.

After the end of the Summer School, the best papers will be considered for publication in Politikon, the IAPSS Journal of Political Science and in A Different View, the IAPSS scientific blog.

About the Organizers

The International Association for Political Science Students (IAPSS) is the worldwide representation and platform for political science students and related studies. IAPSS – politically independent, non-profit, entirely student-run and embracing members from more than 80 countries – generates and promotes political science opportunities for active engagement, career development and academic proficiency through a variety of events, publications and services throughout the year.

The IAPSS Summer School 2023 will take place in the historical city of Braga, Portugal, at the University of Minho, Gualtar Campus. You will feel welcome in a city with over 2000 years of a rich heritage which combines tradition with innovation, memory with youth, creativity with conservatism. While taking the most of high-level lectures and workshops, students will be able to take a trip back in time within modernity among distinctive 11th-century churches, Roman architecture, leisure parks, and gardens. 

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Accommodation & Meals

Accommodation and meals are not included in the participation fee. Braga offers a variety of lodging options, with hostels offering single beds in dormitories as well as separate rooms, medium-range and high-end hotels, but also private accommodation as well as thousands of Couchsurfing and Airbnb options. Since August is high season, we again recommend arranging your accommodation the earliest possible to enjoy the best offers and deals.

Social Events

There will be opportunities to socialize and network with professors and students. While the School privileges academic excellency, it also recognizes the importance of creating an exciting social environment, which will stimulate creativity and the establishment of international friendships. A tour of Braga will be organized, as well as, free time will be provided for the participants to socialize and network. Additionally, debates and political games will also be featured among the social events of the IAPSS Summer School 2023. Finally, during the last two days, you’ll get to experience one of the city’s major yearly events, “Noite Branca”, with the opportunity to attend free cultural shows, concerts, and much more.

Key information about the IAPSS Summer School 2023:


Arrival: Sunday, August 27th 

Programme: Monday, August 28th –  Saturday, September 2nd

Departure: Sunday, September 3rd


IAPSS events are designed to be socially, culturally, religiously and politically inclusive, by bringing students of political science and related disciplines from various academic backgrounds, political contexts, level of studies, age and gender together. This aims to create an interactive and multidisciplinary space of social and academic debate and interaction. Taking into account global income disparities, the IAPSS Summer School 2015 seeks to offer a student-friendly, low-cost participation fee of 120 EUR*. This includes access to all lectures, workshops and social events, besides all Summer School materials, and, of course, an Official Certificate of Participation. The fee has to be transferred in advance in order to confirm your participation, but only after you have been notified of successful selection. Applications are assessed on a rolling basis.

Further, we recommend consulting with your university / academic institution for individual financial support for participation and travel costs. Also, a range of foundations and academic institutions offer grants and scholarships for seasonal schools. If selected, please inform us as soon as possible in case you are in need of a pre-arranged visa for Portugal. We will provide you with a personalised invitation letter, respectively.

Further remarks: Similarly to other seasonal schools, accommodation and travel expenses are not included in the participation fee. In consequence, please note that you will have to arrange transportation to Braga, and that IAPSS does not cover travel expenses of public transport, including the tickets for social and cultural events. Please note that fee reimbursements/returns are not possible.

Please note that IAPSS membership is required in order to participate in the IAPSS Summer School 2023. IAPSS membership offers you a wide range of benefits, including priority access to IAPSS conferences, IAPSS delegations, and IAPSS study trips, as well as the opportunity to participate in IAPSS’ student research committees, and political science journals, Politikon and Encuentro Latinoamericano, and A Different View, the academic blog of IAPSS. Also, members receive the monthly IAPSS News & Opportunities condensing political science opportunities. Please consult our website ( for more information. 

*Students from the University of Minho pay a reduced fee of 60 EUR.

For questions, please contact

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