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DIOGENES Kick-off meeting 12-13 X 2023

On 12th-13th October 2023, Jagiellonian University in Krakow held an event inagurating the launch of the DIOGENES group (Digital Network of European Legal Historians) at the Faculty of Law and Administration.

The group's mission was to form an international network of academic connections - particularly between PhD students and post-doc researchers. Legal historians often encounter a major issue: the absence of a contact database when working with international partners. DIOGENES aims to tackle this problem by building a user-friendly digital platform that facilitates constant communication between group members.

The DIOGENES Kick-off meeting helped bring together a community of individuals keen to contribute to the group's efforts. The two-day event was attended by over 50 experienced scientists and young researchers from 15 European countries representing 29 centers, including Germany (University of Augsburg, University of Bayreuth, University of Regensburg, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, Karl Eberhard University in Tübingen, University of Cologne, Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena), Hungary (University of Szeged, University of Miskolc, University of Debrecen), Austria (University of Vienna), Czech Republic (Masaryk University of Brno), Finland (University of Helsinki), Latvia (University of Latvia in Riga), the Netherlands (Maastricht University), Norway (University of Oslo), Slovenia (University of Ljubljana), Slovakia (University of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Trnava), Spain (Complutense University in Madrid), Sweden (Stockholm University), Ukraine (Lviv National University of Technology), Great Britain (University of Durham, University College London), as well as from national centers such as: University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań, the University of Rzeszów, the District Bar Council in Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.During the opening ceremony, the vice-rector for the Jagiellonian University international cooperation, Professor Dorota Malec, greeted the guests and emphasized the importance of international cooperation in maintaining connections among academic institutions, particularly significant for legal historians, in the ever-changing contemporary world. Subsequently spoke Professor Maciej Mikuła, head of the flagship project Critical Heritage Studies Hub, which funded the event. Professor Mikuła discussed various projects related to legal heritage implemented at Jagiellonian University and their main assumptions. The panels were moderated by: Dr. Piotr Alexandrowicz (UAM), Paweł Kaźmierski, M.A. (University of the Jagiellonian University), Dr. Denes Legeza (University of Szegedin), Dr. Przemysław Pałka (UJ), Dr. Kamila Staudigl-Ciechowicz (University of Vienna/University of Regensburg) and Izabela, M.A. Wasik (UJ).

In the first section of the opening panel 'Publish or Perish in Legal History', Professor Hans-Peter Haferkamp from the University of Cologne provided 21 essential tips for inexperienced researchers to effectively produce a superior academic manuscript. These tips cover various areas, such as precisely defining research queries and issues, hypotheses formulation, conducting proper analysis of literature and creating an appropriate bibliography.

During the second part of the panel, a discussion was held with the participation of Prof. Dr. Peter Oestmann (Münster), Prof. Agustín Parise (Maastricht), Prof. Alberto Iglesias Garzón (Madrid), Prof. Heikki Pihlajamäki (Helsinki) and Dr. Ian Williams (UCL). The lively discussion centered on preparing texts for publication in journals. The editors of well-respected international journals focused heavily on the language used in published works during the conference. This is particularly important for non-English or German speaking scholars, as these are the dominant languages in European legal history publications. The panelists urged attendees to not only share their findings on the global stage but also to publish them in their native tongues.

Later on, a very popular open discussion, "Networking of Young European Legal Historians – Past. Presence, Future" was held. It focused on the development of DIOGENES and ways to increase cooperation between researchers from all centers. The discussion included promoting DIOGENES on social media and collaborating with other organizations. Association of Young Legal Historians (AYLH) and Das junge Netzwerk Rechtsgeschichte can work together with DIOGENES to promote and internationalize research in legal history. During the discussion, there were suggestions to guide particular group events towards scholars who are taking courses in legal history and create connections with student research groups. Such an approach would enable those who plan to become legal historians to join the DIOGENES association before commencing their PhD studies

The final session of the first day of the event was titled "History of Law across the Atlantic Ocean". During the initial part "Legal Historian as a Fullbrighter in the US", attendees could grasp Prof. Tomáš Gábriš' (Trnava University) encounter in Fulbright scholarship application, understand the benefits of conducting research visits in the United States, or face the trip realities and prospects of maintaining collaboration after finishing it.

A well-attended networking session occurred during the break between the evening panel's two sessions. Guests included both audience members and panelists

During the evening part of the panel (‘Scientific Career in the US’), researchers connected via the MS Teams to listen the guests from the USA. Prof. Piotr Górecki (Riverside), Prof. Michelle McKinley (University of Oregon), Prof. Lauren Thompson (Georgia State University) and Prof. Gregory Ablavsky (Stanford Center for Law and History) shared essential advice on how young European researchers can establish their academic careers in the USA. Additionally, they delved into the practical realities and hurdles of the academic world beyond the Atlantic Ocean.

The second day of the DIOGENES Kick-off meeting started with a discussion on "Archival Law and Research on Legal History". Four panelists were involved in the discussion, namely Prof. Adrian Schmidt-Recla (Jena), Prof. Herbjørn Andresen (Oslo), Dr. Mariana Dias Paes (MPI Frankfurt), and Dr. Jakob Maziarz (Kraków). The discussion centred around the varied restrictions that impede access to archives in different countries, which severely affects the current state of legal history research. Points of discussion included the reliability and ethics of scientific research, as well as the principles of safeguarding personal data when presenting research findings. During the discussion, the possibility of studying legal history without unrestricted access to resources was debated. The speakers shared their experiences of encountering refusals to access specific archive materials and the actions they took.

A second networking session took place between the panels, providing another opportunity to strengthen friendships between the event participants.

In the last panel 'Legal History and The European Research Council (ERC)', the application process for ERC grants was discussed. Prof. Dr. Phillip Hellwege (Augsburg) and Prof. Dr. Ulrike Müßig (Pasau), shared their experiences as grant managers. The panelists presented the requirements and steps for applying, as well as their project's main themes and research questions. They also talked to the audience about the biggest problems and obstacles they faced during the grants' implementation. Additionally, they gave valuable advice to applicants,which may increase their chance of getting financing. The last part of the discussion compared the ways legal historians could obtain support at both national and international levels (such as grants administered by the National Science Center).

The meeting ended with a summary of the DIOGENES Kick-off meeting and hopes for continued collaboration and new connections through planned online gatherings were expressed.

DIOGENES Kick-off meeting was met with an extremely warm reception among the participants who came to Krakow. In the coming weeks, further initiatives related to the group's activities will be undertaken - this time in the form of regular online meetings. We cordially invite everyone interested in cooperation within the DIOGENES networking group to contact us at diogenes@uj.edu.pl.