|From the Civic Education Project
Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 1, Fall 1995
years ago, as a young graduate student in Prague
in search of a dissertation topic, I happened to
meet with several Czech university professors. As
newly appointed professors of political science
and economics, they were intrigued to find an
American social scientist in their midst and
invited me to teach at the university.
From those conversations emerged the idea for
a "civic education project" that would
send Western-trained scholars to teach at, and
assist in reforming institutions of higher
education in Central and Eastern Europe.
Then, as now, the belief motivating our
endeavor was that the long-term sustainability of
the political and economic transitions underway
in these countries hinged upon developing an
informed democratic citizenry.
For me personally it is hard to believe that
in less than five years the Civic Education
Project has grown from a small, startup
organization run by a handful of graduate
students to a highly professional, international
educational organization with operations in
In 1991 CEP sent fifteen lecturers to teach at
eight universities in Czechoslovakia; this
academic year CEP has 125 lecturers teaching at
70 universities in 53 cities throughout Central
and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
To date more than 20,000 students have taken at
least one course from one of our lecturers.
Clearly, CEP is playing an important role in
helping educate the region's next generation of
leaders even as we assist in the restructuring of
local institutions of higher education--including
helping our local university colleagues rewrite
curricula, retrain faculty, develop new academic
programs, and obtain up-to-date teaching
Before looking ahead to our next five years, I
think it is important to reflect on the reasons
why CEP has been so successful.
The first and foremost of these reasons is our
lecturers. Because of the unique nature of its
mission, our project has been fortunate to
attract as volunteers many exceptional scholars
who, despite sometimes difficult living
conditions, have demonstrated extraordinary
dedication to our mission.
Next in order of importance is the grass roots
nature of our project. CEP lecturers spend
anywhere from one to three years living and
working at particular university departments.
Unlike Westerners who come to the region on
short-term exchanges, our lecturers are effective
agents of change because they understand
intimately the universities at which they teach
and have the trust of their local colleagues.
Finally, CEP has succeeded because it is a
partnership. Our lecturers are sent at the
request of local university departments, to teach
courses that they identify as necessary to their
As CEP enters its fifth year of teaching, our
project faces three principal challenges. First,
we must increase support for our lecturers' many
and varied projects outside the
classroom--everything from organizing regional
faculty seminars to helping found local civic
Second, we must continue to address more
systematically, in conjunction with other
educational organizations active in the region,
the major structural impediments to educational
reform. The Regional Needs Assessment Project
that CEP is conducting this year (see page 5),
with the financial support of the Andrew W.
Mellon Foundation and in cooperation with the
Institute for Human Studies in Vienna, is a vital
step forward in this effort.
Third, we must continue to work hard at
developing local capacity. CEP's ultimate aim is
to put itself out of business by helping to build
top-rate educational institutions capable of
producing informed citizens and world class
scholars. The Local Faculty Fellows Program
inaugurated by CEP this year, which is sponsoring
13 talented, Western-trained East European
scholars to return to teach in their native
countries, represents an important step toward
this goal. For the 1996-97 program year we hope
to increase the number of Local Faculty Fellows to 25,
a figure that would represent one-fifth of our
total number of lecturers.
Of course, all of these efforts would not have
been possible without the generous support we
have received over the years from the Higher
Education Support Program of the Open Society
Institute, the Eurasia Foundation, the Andrew W.
Mellon Foundation, and many others. To all our
supporters we extend yet again our most heartfelt
I hope that you will join us in our efforts
over the next five years and that you will join
me in saying, "Happy Birthday CEP!"
Stephen R. Grand, Chairman of the Board