Special Projects

Seeking Refuge: Exploring the Problems of Serbia’s Minority Communities through Art

Are you interested in social justice and human rights? In traveling to southeastern Europe? In studying how artists and filmmakers examine social and political issues? Join Professor Nicoletta Rousseva for a two-week study abroad program to Novi Sad, Serbia, in May 2024.

Applications due February 20. See How to Apply below.

Indiana University undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply to participate in this not-for-credit program on how Serbian filmmakers, artists, and activists have examined issues facing minority communities in the region.

Led by Professor Rousseva of the IU Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, the program will start in Bloomington in April and May with a preparatory overview of the cultural landscape of northern Serbia.

Students will start the program in April with in-person preparatory sessions on campus. Then, in mid-May, participants will travel to Novi Sad, Serbia, to attend master classes and workshops led by artists and filmmakers, visit museum archives and exhibitions, meet fellow students at the University of Novi Sad, travel to culturally significant and thematically relevant sites, conduct fieldwork, and meet with activists, scholars, and organizers from local governmental institutions and NGOs whose work focuses on advancing the perception, treatment, and rights of migrants and minority communities.


Orientation and Seminar

In person         Friday, April 12, and Friday, April 26

Zoom               Wednesday, May 8, and Friday, May 10

Serbia trip       May 13-27

Selected participants will attend a mandatory pre-departure in-person orientation in Bloomington on April 12 that will convey information on the goals and requirements of the program, expectations, logistics, safety and health, and the itinerary for travel to Serbia. Following the orientation, a faculty-led seminar will provide students with an overview of the historical, artistic, cultural, linguistic, and sociopolitical landscape of the region. The format of the seminar will be hybrid; with one in-person meeting in Bloomington on April 26 and two remote sessions during the week of May 6. 

In Serbia, students will participate in artist-led workshops, excursions to cultural sites, archives, and museums, and meetings with activists and community members all of which will shed light on the experiences and struggles of Serbia’s minority communities. During this time students will….

  • visit museum exhibitions and archives to work with primary sources documenting the lives, histories, and experiences of minority populations;
  • attend workshops led by filmmakers and artists who will discuss artistic approaches, and reflect upon the ways in which visual art can respond critically and politically to pressing social issues;
  • meet members of minority communities and learn first-hand about their experiences, struggles, and achievements;
  • discover historic sites and monuments that attest to complex histories of migration and marginalization across the region;
  • meet with activists and organizers who are working to address and resolve the problems migrant, minority, and refugee populations face.

Final project

During their two-weeks in Novi Sad, students will work on a final project of their choosing related to the program’s theme. Students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with artists, filmmakers, students and scholars in Novi Sad and to develop skills of archival research, data collection, interview analysis, critical thinking, and creative collaboration. Time will be built into the schedule for students to work on their final projects. Toward the end of the program students will present their final projects at a gallery reception and research showcase. 

Students who successfully fulfill the program requirements will receive a certificate of completion.

  • Nicoletta Rousseva, Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures
  • Professor Halina Goldberg, Director, Robert F. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute; Musicology Department, Jacobs School of Music
  • Undergraduate or graduate students at IU (any campus).
  • Students interested in South Slavic art, culture, and film, contemporary European history, international relations, migration and immigration, and/or social justice are well-suited for this program.
  • Recommended GPA 2.75 or better
  • Applicants must already have a passport or be able to apply for one immediately.
  • Ability to participate in the program in full.

Hostel Terasa, Novi Sad (Svetozara Miletića 43, Novi Sad, Serbia) https://www.hostelterasa.rs/gallery.php  is located in the city center and is a 20-minute walk to the University of Novi Sad and a 10-minute walk to the Danube river. Coffee shops, restaurants, and amenities abound.

Thanks to David and Ann Erne, students accepted to the program will have most of their costs covered, such as roundtrip international airfare, lodging, field trips, health insurance, museum entrance fees, and some meals.

Students will pay a program fee of $500, charged to their bursar account, that will be applied the group expenses outlined above. In addition, participants will be responsible for their travel to and from the departure airport (Chicago, TBC), some meals, and personal expenses.

This program is not-for-credit, so there are no tuition costs.

Submit this application form by February 20. Approximately 15 students can be accommodated with available funds.

Application Form

Novi Sad is a city in northern Serbia and the capital of the autonomous province of Vojvodina. Vojvodina is the country’s most ethnically diverse region thanks to its location and history, making it an ideal location to explore artistic expressions of ethnic identity and minority rights. Situated on the banks of the Danube river and with a population of 300,000, Novi Sad is a walkable, affordable, and safe mid-sized city, with easy access to trains and public transportation connecting visitors to Belgrade, Budapest, and everywhere in between. It is also an epicenter of higher education and research in Central Europe. An emerging cultural capital, Novi Sad boasts many of Serbia’s leading art museums, film archives, and libraries, has a thriving music scene, and openly embraces alternative cultural sensibilities and LGBTQIA+ communities. 

On the territory of present-day Vojvodina there are 1.7 million people, which is around 20% of the complete population of Serbia. Serbs make up the largest group (66%), while the rest of the population (34%) is composed of 26 national or ethnic minorities (Hungarians, Croatians, Roma, Romanians, Montenegrins, Bunjevci, Ruthenians, Macedonians, Albanians, etc.) Despite the pressures caused by wars, economic crises, changes of state status as well as various legal, economic and social systems since the period of the Roman Empire, a large number of ethnic minorities live harmoniously side by side on the territory of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, as the result of their rich historical heritage.