Making Romania Great Again (55+)

The history of the Romanian state revolves around attempts to keep international influence at bay. Nationalist Romanians say that Ottomans, Russians and Hapsburgs have coveted their lands since the dawn of modern history. During the Second World War, Romania tried to remain neutral, but following the war, it was occupied by Soviet forces. At first loyal to the Eastern Bloc, Romania flirted with nationalism under Nicolae Ceausescu’s leadership. The country’s quest for independence today is fuelled by a yearning to build an economy with as little international assistance as possible.

We will examine the history of Romania since the end of the Second World War, following the theme of Bucharest’s uneasy relationship with any and all dominant international orders.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Stan Markotich $115.00 33 Register

What will I learn?

Week 1: Marxist-Leninist Orthodoxy, 1945-1955

We will examine how Romania found itself behind the iron curtain. The first communist president, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, established a loyal Leninist regime and his efforts involved creating the “new Romanian Soviet man” and implementing Stalin's vision of scientific socialism. For a decade, Romania, as far as the outside was concerned, existed as little more than an extension of Moscow's reach into central Europe.

Week 2: Existential crises, 1955-1965

With Stalin's passing, Dej found himself without a patron. At first, the Romanian Workers' Party concentrated on cementing its own legacy to that of the Great Leader in Moscow. When it became evident the Soviet authorities advocated a version of reform, there was strife within the Romanian Party. Dej gave some ground to shifting ideological imperatives, but held as close to policies of industrialism, proletarian propaganda and Leninist teachings as he could.

Week 3: A new arrival: Romania to the mid-1970s

With Dej's passing, one obscure official, Nicolae Ceausescu, found himself in a position to take control of public affairs. Upon rising to the top of the Party ranks, he introduced reforms that loosened state control over daily life and began to open ties to nations beyond the iron curtain. The period of liberalization, however, was short lived. In order to consolidate power, Ceausescu gradually restored repressive policies, pumped new life into the state secret police and isolated and eliminated political rivals. The process reached a peak in the mid-1970s with the rise of the executive presidency.

Week 4: Economics, foreign policy and social disintegration, 1975-1985

Ceausescu pledged to turn Romania into a regional superpower. He introduced policies to encourage population growth, demanded economic development and planned to turn Romania into the world's largest supplier of refined crude. When oil prices cratered in the 1970s, Bucharest was left with heavy foreign debts and too few markets to cover costs. The well-being of the domestic population was sacrificed to meet creditors' demands. The quality of life for the average citizen evaporated and the country became fertile ground for social revolution.

Week 5: Turmoil and revolution, 1985-1989

Near the end of his regime, Ceausescu managed to pay off the foreign debt, but failed to address social policies. A population suffering years of privation abandoned passivity and eventually grew restive. Workers resisted party policies, ethnic minorities denounced discriminatory practices and women's groups advocated against repressive and patriarchal social customs. When the iron curtain collapsed, Romania lapsed into one of the most violent revolutions of the latter half of the 20th century.

Week 6: The Long Golaniad?, 1990-present day

Golaniad, from the Romania word for hoodlum, came to describe a brief period in early 1990 when activists demanded pro-Western reforms. Romanian political leaders, to this day, struggle with how to become part of the community of nations. They question if issues pertaining to minorities, women's rights, economic equality and productivity are best solved or addressed by consulting Western models. Or, can Romanian alternatives be made compatible with international standards? Examining how Romania has addressed social, cultural, foreign and economic policies since 1990 will close the course.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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