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From the Desk of the Executive Director
 

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From the Civic Education Project Newsletter, Volume 1, Number 1, Winter 1994/95

The Civic Education Project has enjoyed remarkable growth over the past four years. From a pilot project in eight Czech and Slovak universities in 1991-92, we have expanded to a region-wide network of partnerships with universities and higher education institutions in the newly-democratic states of Europe, and a growing array of region-wide programs ranging from curriculum development and faculty training to needs assessment and scholarly network-building. Yet our mission remains the same: helping to strengthen the foundations of democracy and the market economy in the formerly-communist states by training the next generation in the skills and values essential to their roles as citizens and leaders.

Our focus on education stems from a conviction that the classroom is a vital laboratory of democracy. In addition to the practical skills they acquire in CEP courses -- whether in economics, law, political science or another branch of the social and policy sciences that are CEP's focus -- the approximately five thousand students who take CEP courses each year also acquire skills of critical thinking and thoughtful, tolerant debate that will be vital as they take on their responsibilities as citizens and leaders in these new democracies.

Just as importantly, we also work to change the entire teaching and research environment in which these students learn, by assisting with faculty retraining, curriculum development, the improvement of research libraries, and collaboration on research projects. We are especially excited about our growing use of the Internet to build research linkages and scholarly cooperation both within the region and with the U.S. and other Western scholarly communities. Through these efforts, we hope to assist in the development of social science departments throughout the region as genuine centers of inquiry and learning.

The real strength of CEP is the talent and energy of the remarkable people who are attracted to its mission each year as volunteers. Despite their differences in age, discipline, and nationality, our lecturers share an overriding desire to help their universities become centers of excellence in teaching and research. In this and subsequent issues, we will introduce a few of CEP's lecturers, and tell of their efforts to make a difference in the 59 universities where CEP currently works. After all, it is the work of these lecturers that has made CEP so effective.

You will learn about these labors and much more in this and subsequent editions of the CEP Newsletter. We are strongly committed to working in partnership with other Western organizations devoted to educational reform and democratic education, and this Newsletter will be our vehicle for getting the word out about our own activities, with the hope of both informing our colleagues and friends of our work and inviting ideas for cooperation.

At a time when United States assistance to democratization and market reform in Central and Eastern Europe and the NIS is under intense scrutiny in Washington, it is especially important that non-profit organizations committed to helping the new democracies of Eastern Europe and the NIS communicate and cooperate more effectively.

We hope the CEP Newsletter will prove informative, and we welcome your inquiries and comments.

Regards,

Kerry Stephen McNamara
Executive Director
Civic Education Project