Testing Begins for the Needs Assessment Study


From the Civic Education Project Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 1, Fall 1995

Deep cuts in the U.S. foreign aid budget targeted at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the decision of the Pew Charitable Trusts to wind up its operations in Central Europe mark the beginning of a withdrawal of foreign assistance to universities in Central and Eastern Europe.

While there are certainly pressing issues to address at home, there also seems to be a sense in the donor community that the progress made by many universities in Central Europe leave them with the capacity to take it from here.

Is it really time to declare victory and return home or do universities still need foreign assistance? Are universities turning out graduates who have the skills to sustain the development of market economies and democratic societies in Central and Eastern Europe? If not, what further progress is required to raise the teaching of social science in the region up to international standards, and what can Western donors do to address most effectively university needs?

The Civic Education Project is seeking answers to those questions through its needs assessment study of social science higher education in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States (NIS). The study, which is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is the first region-wide assessment of social science reform in the region and the first systematic effort to conduct survey research on these issues at the classroom level.

That research is designed to assess the teaching of social sciences at Central and East European universities according to international standards and to examine the influence of foreign assistance and local conditions on social science teaching. On the basis of its research, CEP will prepare recommendations for both the donor community and universities themselves on ways to address more effectively the needs of social science departments.

With help from the project Advisory Committee--Ireneusz Bialecki (Warsaw University), Viatcheslav Brioukhovetsky (Kiev-Mohyla Academy), David Featherman (Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan), Jochen Fried (Institute for Human Sciences), Karen Greenberg (Open Society Institute), Kenneth Janda (Northwestern University), Valentin Hadjiev (Sofia University), Richard Quandt (Princeton University), Istvan Rev (Central European University), and Ivan Szelenyi (UCLA)--CEP has prepared a faculty survey for pretesting. CEP is designing other survey instruments and plans to complete pre-testing and to begin survey research at a selected number of research sites during the fall semester.