The CEP Caucasus program began in January 1998, with three Visiting Faculty Fellows and two Local Faculty Fellows in Tbilisi, Georgia. The program expanded to Armenia the following semester. In 1998–99 CEP Caucasus supported seven Visiting Faculty Fellows and three Local Faculty Fellows at universities in Yerevan and Tbilisi.

The presence of CEP Fellows in Georgia and Armenia has helped rebuild academic linkages among the Caucasus countries. While CEP Fellows are based in the capitals, they make a determined effort to reach out to other parts of each country. In Georgia, CEP has conducted a regular series of guest lectures and programs at universities in Kutaisi and Akhaltsikhe. In the spring, CEP Fellows held a three-day intensive seminar series, Changing Conceptions of Sovereignty, at Kutaisi State University. Two political scientists and a lawyer examined this topic from different perspectives. Visiting Faculty Fellows also gave a series of guest lectures to the economics and law faculties at Akhaltsikhe State University on topics ranging from introductory economics to applied theories of public administration to human rights.

Similar outreach took place in Armenia. In May 1999, CEP Fellows convened a symposium, Human Rights at the End of the 20th Century, in Yerevan. Twenty-two students participated, including students from regional universities. The conference addressed four main themes: democracy and human rights, minority rights, refugee rights, and the role of non-governmental organizations. CEP Fellows in the Caucasus have also visited universities in Baku, Azerbaijan for guest lecturers and workshops. As a result of these visits, students from Azerbaijan were included in CEP Caucasus events in 1998–99.

“One of the great things about being a CEP Visiting Faculty Fellow is the wide range of opportunities that exist to reach students, even those outside your primary host university.”

Jennifer Shea, Visiting Faculty Fellow, Ivane
Javakhishvili State University, Tbilisi

A highlight of the 1998–99 academic year was the first CEP Caucasus Regional Student Conference, The Caucasus: Challenges and Opportunities. This interdisciplinary conference focused on common issues facing Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and received an overwhelming response. More than thirty students from the region presented papers on topics such as nationalism, relations with Russia, and economic reform.
The students discussed and debated these issues, often vigorously, and the sessions were well-attended by the university community in Tbilisi. Students also participated in workshops and information sessions led by invited guests; there was time to socialize as well. Nearly all participants commented on the collegiality and goodwill generated by the event and noted the importance of such interaction in a region characterized by ongoing political tension.

“It was a pleasure to work with the students on an individual basis and encourage open discussions in class. I also enjoyed working with the Visiting Faculty Fellows and sharing ideas with them. It’s an experience I will treasure.”

Lusine Hovhannisian, Local Faculty Fellow,
Armenian Open University

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