Project’s pathways towards impact
Current situation in Serbia – Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade
(A) Current state of institutional affairs. (I) The Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade (UBL) and the Department of Legal Theory, Sociology of Law and Philosophy of Law. BGL is the leading Institution in legal education in Serbia and in the wider area of the Western Balkans. It enrols 1300 students every year and has more than 7000 active students. The teaching staff is comprised of 93 lecturers in different stages of their academic career, and an administrative staff of 65. The Department of Legal Theory, Sociology of Law and Philosophy of Law has 14 academic staff members covering 14 courses on the undergraduate level, 10 courses on the MA level, and 5 courses on the PhD level of studies. Fundamental legal knowledge is a staple of courses taught by the members of the department specialized in theory and philosophy of law. The general undergraduate courses in which legal fundamentals are a major part of the syllabus are the following: Introduction to Law (1st year undergraduate 1300 students yearly), Law and Justice (3rd year undergraduate 50 students yearly), Legal Ethics (3rd year undergraduate 30 students yearly), Introduction to Philosophy of Law (4th year undergraduate 50 students yearly). The optional practical courses in which legal fundamentals are a necessary part of the syllabus are: Legal drafting (4th year, 500 students) and Techniques of legal interpretation (4th year, 30 students). Legal Methodology is an obligatory PhD course for all PhD students (30 students) teaching students about the methodology of legal research with legal fundamentals playing a prominent role in the syllabus. (II) BGL Scientific Research and Cooperation. In terms of international recognition of research and education strong points, BGL has in the recent decade garnered international attention and renown. It is the only Department of Theory, Philosophy and Sociology of Law in Serbia that cherishes a vibrant scientific conversation on foundational legal topics. This is also the case with courses falling into the broad category of foundational legal knowledge. Owning to individual efforts of the research and teaching staff, the main strong points relate to theory and philosophy of legal interpretation and argumentation, theory of international law, as well as legal positivism and natural law theory. Traditional knowledge in these fields has been supplemented in recent decades by work in logic, language, and practical reasoning both from the perspective of philosophy and from the perspective of social and natural sciences. Belgrade has kept up with the research on the individual level of some members of the teaching staff, but it hasn’t systematically undertaken research in the field, modernised existing courses based on this new knowledge, nor has it been able to establish new courses (e.g., Legal Argumentation, Critical Thinking, Legal Pluralism etc.) relying on recent developments in the field.
(B) Current state of project management and coordination. Currently, only one international liaison officer not strictly related to project management and coordination handles the entirety of activities related to networking with foreign universities. Most representative activities are handled by the vice dean for international affairs, with a serious lack of administrative backing. Activities, especially activities based on project that would address those shortcomings were hindered by the lack of a Project office on BGL that would be able to follow project calls, inform the faculty about interesting offers and handle the drafting and the realization of the projects. Along with the teaching and research responsibilities of the teaching staff on courses related to legal fundamentals, without strong administrative support, it isn’t to be expected that cooperation and knowledge exchange will be furthered.
(C) Current Serbian state of art foundational topics in Law in Serbia. The use of classic logic and argumentation in law was discussed in the previous generation of scholars but have since fallen out of favour with the newer generation. This is especially true when it comes to nonmonotonic reasoning, argumentative models of interpretation, defeasibility of rules. There has been a lack of both research and teaching in these areas in the last two decades. The last systematic work on related topics was Jasminka Hasanbegović book “The Logical Structure of the Legal Norm” from 2002 published in Serbian, with a specific and limited topic of interest, and limited influence. As for teaching, not all students enrolled at the law graduate program have the high school pre-knowledge in logic and there is not a separate course in our curriculum related to law and logic. Hence, the only activity of this sort is extracurricular advanced course – Theory and practice of legal reasoning – which has been organized in last several years for a selected number of last-year graduate students. Language of law has been a topic of legal theory and philosophy in Belgrade in the last decade mostly as part of the work of researchers interested in legal interpretation. Legal hermeneutics, general hermeneutics and judicial interpretation have been explored in the recent work of Bojan Spaić. Efforts to include contemporary linguistics, especially pragmatics, into these considerations have been sporadic and non-institutionalized, resulting in occasional international events, but not in coherent and comprehensive scientific research and production. The state of research is also reflected in teaching activities. Legal interpretation is a topic of one part of Introduction to jurisprudence on the first year of studies, and the optional practical skills “Legal drafting”, “Techniques of Legal Interpretation” on the fourth year of undergraduate studies. Students, however, do not have the prerequisite knowledge about semantics and pragmatics that are required for meaningful analysis of legal texts, legal interpretation, and analysis of judicial opinions. Finally, practical rationality has been a topic of interest of some scholars within broader research projects. Goran Dajović has approached the subject in his work on contemporary legal positivism published in Serbian for the most part, and Miodrag Jovanović has integrated an approach to practical rationality in his book “The Nature of International Law” published by Cambridge University Press in 2019. Thorough self-standing examination of reasons for action, reasonableness in legal decision-making, and prudence in law is conspicuously lacking, both in research and teaching activities. The deficiencies in research and teaching of legal fundamentals have further, serious repercussions on the state of art of the present-day legal practice in Serbia. Namely, freshly graduated lawyers entering bar, judiciary, and prosecutorial offices are underequipped with basic knowledges and skills regarding legal fundamentals, which negatively affects all relevant aspects of legal practice (e.g., drafting legal documents, providing reasoned judgements, developing coherent interpretative strategies, practicing adequate modes of persuasion, etc.)
(D) Current important problems to resolve. The result of the deficiencies described so far has been the focus on certain areas of interest like international law and legal interpretation but without backing from contemporary knowledge in the fields of logic, language, practical rationality. This has led to a lack of publications related to foundational topics in prominent scientific journals, and with prominent international publishers. Parts of the teaching staff are aware of these shortcomings but for the most part they are not up to date with the tools developed in those areas that could both advance their scientific undertakings, facilitate the dissemination of their work, and increase its relative importance as well as improve on the teaching contents and practices. The lack of administrative capacities has produced very underwhelming use of financing opportunities given by the EU, an inability to organize new large international events and undermined the sustainability of existing traditional events. Without an organizational unit devoted to project, management, and implementation of activities in relation to international projects, the efforts of the teaching staff are often hindered by research and teaching activities.
2.2.2. Expected Impacts of ALF Project (related to the deficiencies and shortcomings identified before). The ALF Project aims to address these shortcomings in three ways:
(A) Provide knowledge and know-how in both academic and administrative matters. In this sense, it will provide Belgrade scholars with knowledge and expertise on these three foundational pillars of law, i.e., logic of law, language of law, and law and practical rationality. This knowledge indispensable for their future research and will also inform their scholarly activities. Additionally, it will provide Belgrade staff with knowledge and expertise on project management and coordination, networking, and dissemination, as well as helping Belgrade to create its own PAO. This knowledge and help will allow Belgrade to autonomously manage and coordinate national and international projects, as well as their activities and outcomes (such as international conferences, summer/winter schools, etc.). Moreover, it will allow Belgrade to become a solid relevant player in the European and international academic network. Finally, it will also allow Belgrade to become a notorious dissemination centre in the Western Balkans of both relevant knowledge (produced by Belgrade individually or collectively with the other Partner Institutions) and information (especially regarding activities organised either by Belgrade and/or the Partner Institutions, and the other members of the European and international academic network).
(B) Raise awareness on the importance of these academic topics to scholars and the general public (especially in Serbia and the Western Balkan’s area). Most of the legal research in situations of dynamic academic and social change is focused on issues and topics that result from new legal solutions to societal problems, and new legal institutions emerging in the legal order. This results in a chase for novelty, without dwelling on the knowledge about topics relevant for all legal scholars and legal practitioners, no matter their specific field of study. The results are scientific outputs not informed by knowledge of logic, language and practical rationality, and therefore potentially flawed, and legal practice without awareness of the requirements and constraints that imposed by basic rules of thought, communication, and argumentation. The transfer of knowledge in ALF will address these problems by making knowledge available to both the scientific public in the form of papers, edited books as well as to the general public in more accessible formats of video and audio recordings of conferences and seminars.
(C) Generate mass of academic knowledge to be shared (with Belgrade as the centre of that dissemination). This mass of academic knowledge will appear in major scientific journals from European and international academia (in English), to maximise visibility, reach and impact to the broadest legal and academic audience possible. They will also appear in Serbian legal journals (in Serbian) to maximise the reach and impact to the broadest Serbian legal an academic audience possible. Moreover, the dissemination of the project’s results will be a) accessible to everyone through the Internet (a specific online platform will be created, as well as different social media accounts related to the project); and b) accessible to academic and non-academic Serbian people (as it will be not only in English but also in Serbian). Potential translations in other Western Balkans’ languages will be also consider as a priority regarding dissemination.
2.2.3. Scale and significance of the project’s contribution to the expected outcomes and impacts
(A) Scale. The outcomes and impacts are likely to be very widespread. They will be: (I) VERY LARGE considering Serbian and Western Balkans’ scholars, stakeholders, and general public. The target groups are big, and all the outcomes and impacts should potentially involve all of them. One assumption is that the academic key topics involved in this project are (or should be) of potential interest to any member of these target groups because of the foundational nature of them. Moreover, another assumption is that the fact that the results of the project are going to be also published in Serbian (and there is a priority to also translate them in another Western Balkan’s languages) is going to make a huge difference in terms of impact. (II) LARGE considering European and international scholars, non-academic stakeholders, and general public. The target groups are very big, and all the outcomes and impacts should potentially involve most of them. One assumption is that the academic key topics involved in this project are (or should be) of potential interest to any member of these target groups because of the foundational nature of them. Another assumption is that the publication of the project results in relevant international scientific journals (in English) will potentially reach not only scholars but also stakeholders. As well as this, the last assumption is that the dissemination through an online platform and social media will make the results more reachable to non-academic, non-specialised public. (III) SMALL considering Belgrade affiliated staff (and students). The target group is quite small (circumscribed to one university, specifically to one faculty), and all the outcomes and impacts should involve every member of the University of Belgrade. One assumption is that the administrative transfer of knowledge (and the creation of PAO) will reach not only the administrative part of BGL but also, directly or indirectly, the administration of the whole University of Belgrade. Another assumption is that the academic transfer of knowledge will first benefit the direct involved Belgrade groups, but then – after establishing courses and the like, especially in Serbian – they will potentially benefit the whole University.
(B) Significance. The importance and value of the potential benefits is projected to be: 1) Enormous for scholars, stakeholders, and general public from Serbia and the Western Balkans; 2) Great for European and international scholars, non-academic stakeholders, and general public; and 3) Absolute for BGL affiliated staff (and students).
2.2. Measures to maximise impact – Dissemination, exploitation, and communication
2.2.1. Dissemination and exploitation of results
(A) The importance of dissemination and exploitation of results in the context of ALF Project. The main aim of the project is, undeniably, the academic and administrative transfer of knowledge in favour of Belgrade (see point 1.1). In this sense, the dissemination and exploitation of results of the project plays a major role in relation to some of the expected outcomes of the project such as the positioning of Belgrade as a prominent actor within the Western Balkans, European, and international academic networks; raising Belgrade’s scientific and institutional reputation and attractiveness; and, albeit more indirectly, helping improve the all-round theoretical and practical knowledge on the foundations of law of Serbian (and Western Balkan) non-academic stakeholders, including the general public. Thus, the dissemination and exploitation of results has a prominent place within the project and, consequently, will have an entire WP dedicated to it, WP7, led by Belgrade (see points 1.2.2 and 3.1).
(B) Dissemination and Exploitation Plan (D&ER-plan) of ALF project in detail
B.1) D&ER-plan Structural Principles. The D&ER will ensure that ALF Project’s activities and results reach all stakeholders and the general public. This will be achieved through different channels and initiatives, aiming to show the use and the benefits the ALF project will have for them. The principle regarding this is that, to allow for a truly effective communication and engagement, different stakeholders are to be reached by different means according to their specific characteristics and needs. Furthermore, the D&ER will foster the ongoing participation of those who can contribute to the development, evaluation, uptake, and exploitation of the project. The principle regarding this is that, to allow for a truly effective communication, strategies must be periodically reviewed, adapted, and updated. Moreover, even the most effective strategy must be periodically updated in alignment with the project’s progress. The D&ER-plan described below includes references to all relevant parts for an effective and detailed D&ER-plan: i) results and outcomes (object of dissemination); ii) target groups; iii) active strategies to be used; iv) management of dissemination activities; v) management of intellectual property; vi) policies of protection, dissemination, and exploitation; and vii) knowledge management.
B.2) Results – Target groups – Strategies. Following the main principle of any D&ER-plan, one of the main tasks of ALF project’s D&ER-plan consists in stakeholder identification, thus answering the questions “to whom?”, “what?”, and “how?”, and then subdividing the project’s activities among them. In this sense, the target groups of relevant stakeholders can be identified according to two independent criteria: the first one, their affiliation the University of Belgrade or not; the second one, their belonging to different professional and/or generic categories. As such, the main stakeholders to be reached and involved are: (1) Belgrade Affiliated Staff (including Belgrade Senior and Young Scholars, and Belgrade administrative staff); (2) Non-Belgrade Affiliated Scholars (Serbian scholars, Western Balkan’s Scholars, European and international scholars); (3) Scientific communities in particular (legal theorists, practical philosophers, logicians); (4) Jurists in a wide sense (lawyers, dogmatics, legal authorities – decision makers such as legislators, judges, and public officials); and (5) the general public (and potential members of other non-considered categories), such as Serbian civil society, Western Balkan’s civil societies, and European and international civil societies.
B.3) General diagram of D&ER-plan: strategies and activities (How?) linking results/outputs (What?) to target groups (“To Whom?”).
- I) Belgrade-Affiliated Staff. (I.1) Belgrade Senior and Junior Scholars: The following strategies and activities will target these stakeholders: a) Reports about state-of-art reviews on foundational topics of law in Serbian; b) Scientific publications in Serbian; c) Call for international conferences; d) Blogpost and video lessons in Serbian and/or subtitled in Serbian; e) Call for participation in expert visits and student seminars; and f) Call for research visits. Targeting specifically Belgrade Junior Scholars will be another activity: g) Call for participation in the novel research project “Practically orientated legal fundamentals” (WP6). All these activities will be i) announced though Belgrade’s internal mailing list, and activities a)-d) will also be ii) published on ALF-WP. (I.2) Belgrade Administrative Staff: The following strategies and activities will target these stakeholders: h) call to participation in different types of training and capacity building activities (T.2.4); and i) call for short-term staff exchanges periods (T.2.5) will be i) announced though Belgrade’s internal mailing list.
- II) Non-Belgrade-Affiliated Scholars: The following strategies and activities will target Serbian scholars: a) Reports about state-of-art reviews on foundational topics of law in Serbian; b) Scientific publications in Serbian; c) Call for international conferences; d) Blogpost and video lessons in Serbian and/or subtitled in Serbian. Moreover, all these four strategies and activities a)-d), but in English and/or with subtitles in English, target Western Balkan scholars and European and international scholars. All these activities will be ii) published on ALF-WP, iii) announced on ALF-OSN, and iv) through ALF newsletter– database of relevant stakeholders.
III) Scientific communities (legal theorists, practical philosophers, logicians): The following strategies and activities will target these stakeholders: b) Scientific publications in English; c) Call for international conferences; and d) Blogpost and video lessons in English and/or subtitled in English. All these activities will be ii) published on ALF-WP, iii) announced on ALF-OSN, and iv) through ALF newsletter– database of relevant stakeholders.
- IV) Jurists in a wide sense (lawyers, legal authorities, dogmatics, public officers): The following strategies and activities will target these stakeholders: a) Reports about state-of-art reviews on foundational topics of law in Serbian/English; b) Scientific publications in Serbian/English; c) Call for international conferences; d) Blogpost and video lessons in Serbian/English and/or subtitled in Serbian/English; e) training activities targeting non-researcher stakeholders. All these activities will be ii) published on ALF-WP, iii) announced on ALF-OSN, and iv) through ALF newsletter– database of relevant stakeholders.
- V) General Public (Serbian civil society, Western Balkans’ civil societies, European and international civil societies): The following strategies and activities will target these stakeholders: d) Blogpost and video lessons in Serbian/English and/or subtitled in Serbian/English. Targeting specifically Serbian civil society will be also: e) training activities targeting non-researcher stakeholders. All these activities will be ii) published on ALF-WP, iii) announced on ALF-OSN, and iv) through ALF newsletter– database of relevant stakeholders.
(C) Communication activities in particular. The means for dissemination and/or exploitation of each project result according to each target group, as provisionally established above, will be defined in detail in the D&ER ALF Project Plan before Month 6 (D.7.1). They will be also evaluated, reviewed, and updated throughout the entire duration of the project both to include new initiatives and activities and to avoid or fix risks (T.7.2). As indicated above, the main dissemination and communication strategies of the results of ALF project will be the following:
- Scientific publications: Regarding scientific publications, a triple strategy is going to be pursued, according to different expected outcomes and target groups (see “compliance” below about Open Access). On the one hand, and aiming to raise Belgrade’s attractiveness and reputation, publication in major scientific journals will be pursued (e.g., Legal Theory, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Ratio Juris). On the other hand, and aiming to allow for maximum dissemination in academy, publication in open access important scientific journals will be also pursued (e.g., Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, Informal Logic, Ergo). Finally, and aiming for maximum dissemination in Serbia and between non-scholar target groups, publication either Serbian scientific journals and/or in journals accepting publications in Serbian will also be pursued (e.g., Pravni zapisi, Anali Pravnog fakulteta).
Every publication will be announced (and linked, when possible) through the platform. However, full access to the publications will depend on their journal/book’s policy. For non-Open Access publications, a long abstract and/or summary of the paper (specially in Serbian) will be offered, when possible, along with the notice of the publication. See point “Compliance – Scientific publications management” (point D).3).
The main communication channels of ALF Project will be the following:
- Formal communication – ALF Project Web Platform (D.7.5): The ALF-WP will be offered in both Serbian and English (will potentially include also Italian and Portuguese, as well as other Western Balkan languages). The functions of the ALF-WP will be: (i) External communication resource for stakeholders; (ii) internal communication tool for involved partners; (iii) repository for public deliverables. The information to be included in the ALF-WP will be, at least: (i) Information about ALF Project & Calendar of Events (ALF Project events, jointly organised events, individually organised events, events where one of the partners will participate, etc.); (ii) Reports about state-of-the-art on logic of law, language of law, and law and practical rationality, as well as developments of the research project “Practically orientated legal fundamentals” (D.2.2., D.3.2., D.4.2., D.6.4); (iii) Open-access training materials (e.g. video lessons); (iv) Blog posts (D.3.6, D.4.5, D.5.5, D.6.7); 5) List of scientific publications related to ALF Project, including those of the research project “Practical orientated legal fundamentals” (either in full version and/or in long abstract/summary version); 6) All other public deliverables.
- Informal communication – Official Social Networks (D.7.6): The ALF-OFS will be offered in both Serbian and English. The functions of the ALF-OFS will be spreading awareness about the project results and activities in an informal way. The information to be included in the ALF-OFS will be, at least: (i) all the information published in ALF-WP; (ii) brief informative videos on training activities, workshops, seminars, video lessons, etc. (designed for social networks); and (iii) electronic brochures and posters about ALF Project presentations and events (designed for social networks).
- Formal communication – Newsletter (ALF Project Web Platform + Database of relevant stakeholders): The ALF-NWS will be offered in both Serbian and English. The functions of the ALF-OFS will be providing information about project advancement, events, calls, etc. to all relevant stakeholders. The information to be included in the ALF-NWS will be, at least, a bimonthly summary of all the information included in the ALF-WP.
5 and 6. Blogposts and short video lessons (D.3.6, D.4.5, D.5.5, D.6.7): The blog posts and short video lessons will be offered in both Serbian and English; if the main language of the video lesson is in English, Serbian subtitles will be provided. All the blog posts will be written by Belgrade scholars, especially young ones, with assistance and/or supervision from senior scholars from both Belgrade and/or the Partner Institutions. The short video lessons will be obtained from ALF Project’s research periods, expert visits, student seminars, workshops, the “Practically orientated legal fundamental” research project’s activities, and so on. A special section of the ALF-WP will host both the official ALF Project’s blog and access to the ALF Project’s video channel. Notice of every new blogpost and video will be given through ALF-WP, ALF-OFS, and ALF-NWS.
(D) ALF D&ER Plan Management has three parts. (I) Management: PAO (T.2.1), assisted by one representative of Genoa, Lisbon and Surrey, shall be in charge of all the activities concerning the management and coordination of the ALF D&ER Plan. Before the creation of PAO, a temporary management committee composed by one representative of each partner organisation and lead by Belgrade’s representative shall be in charge of them. (II) Control and Review: PAO will evaluate, review and update ALF D&ER PLAN activities on an ongoing basis, at least once every three months. Overall review of these activities is scheduled on a yearly basis during Consortium meetings (T.1.4). (III) Compliance: All policies regarding protection, dissemination and exploitation will comply with the H2027 Annotated Agreement and the Consortium Agreement (to be signed before the first one). Regarding scientific publications management, it will be ensured that the scientific publications generated within ALF Project will comply with H2027 rules regarding Open Access to scientific publications. As a general principle, the partners will choose publishes allowing either “gold” and/or “green” open access publication; the only exception to this principle will be the possibility to publish in a highly relevant international journal and/or book collection. In this case, the value of raising Belgrade’s scientific profile, notoriousness, and reputation among European and international academy (one of the main objectives of the ALF Project) is deemed to be circumstantially axiologically superior to the value of disseminating the results of the ALF Project among non-academic stakeholders. However, a long abstract and/or summary of the paper (specially in Serbian) will be offered, when possible, along with the notice of the publication on the ALF Project Platform and/or official social networks.
(E) Intellectual Property. PAO, assisted by one representative of Genoa, Lisbon, and Surrey, shall be in charge of all activities and issues concerning Intellectual Property. Before the creation of PAO, a temporary management committee composed by one representative of each partner organisation and lead by Belgrade’s representative shall oversee them.