In the spring of this year a wave of campus occupations swept Croatia, beginning with the takeover of the school of humanities and social sciences at the University of Zagreb on April 20. The protesters demanded free and universally available higher education, and by the end of their campaign all or part of twenty universities in eight Croatian cities had been occupied.

I had a chance to talk to some of the leaders of the Croatian occupations when I was in Zagreb earlier this month, and those conversations (and others I had there) were a real crash course in the student movements that have swept Europe this year. Much of what I learned is highly relevant to the American situation, particularly now that campus occupations are becoming a regular occurrence here.

The U of Zagreb occupation lasted for thirty-five days this spring. It took place not behind barricades but in a freely accessible building, with democratic governance meetings open to all, regular teach-ins and seminars — even a daily morning yoga session.

Today at a noon mass gathering, or plenum, Zagreb’s student activists voted to take up their occupation again. Occupations are also underway at the Universities of Pula and Rijeka, with a meeting scheduled for tomorrow at Split to consider similar action.

There hasn’t been much coverage of the current European wave of student protest in the United States, and what there has been has often been fragmented and decontextualized. I’m going to make an effort to overcome those problems in the coming days, using Croatia’s occupations — those of this spring and those going on now — as a case study and a starting point for broader discussion. Stay tuned!