Country Programs
Bulgaria, Macedonia

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Country Director: Tsvetelina Popova

INTRODUCTION

"I have seen firsthand the difference CEP can make for students and universities in transitional societies – providing vital educational tools and new directions for students and faculty, strengthening the commitment to civil society and democracy in the region."

– Robert Castle, Visiting Faculty Fellow, Rousse University and Turnovo University

CEP launched its program in Bulgaria in 1992. Since then more than fifty Visiting Faculty Fellows and Eastern Scholars from Austria, Bulgaria, India, France, Singapore, the Philippines and the USA have taught various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences at eleven major state and private universities. These include Sofia University, Varna University of Economics, Varna Technical University, New Bulgarian University, International University, Svishtov Academy of Economics, Varna Free University, Burgas Free University, Rousse University, University of National and World Economy - Sofia, Blagoevgrad University, Veliko Turnovo University. For the current academic year, the CEP office in Bulgaria will administer a new program at the Skopje University in Macedonia.

In the 1999-2000 academic year CEP Bulgaria provided support to five Local Faculty Fellows and five Visiting Lecturers at six universities throughout the country. These fellows taught many important elective courses not ordinarily offered at Bulgarian universities, and compulsory courses that are also taught simultaneously by Bulgarian professors. In certain programs, where the students' English language skills allow for it, CEP lecturers are the only instructors for a given compulsory course. The number of students attending CEP courses increases every year. For 1999-2000 the total number of CEP-instructed students exceeded one thousand.

Students greatly appreciate the presence of the CEP Visiting Faculty Fellows and Local Faculty Fellows. The close contact with lecturers, lively discussions in class and the variety of teaching materials not only provide valuable knowledge but also develop analytical skills and provoke critical thinking. When Bulgarian students are encouraged to share their own opinions and become actively involved in the learning process, they feel respected.

"We greatly enjoy working with the CEP lecturers. And our students adore them."

-- Roumiana Petrova, Senior Lecturer, Rousse University

CEP has established a good reputation in the major Bulgarian universities, and, as a result, more schools and programs ask for CEP's assistance each year. The annual position development has evolved from a process of difficult negotiations in the early years to a competition among the universities applying for CEP Visiting Faculty Fellow placement.

From the beginning CEP Visiting Lecturers and Local Faculty Fellows have been actively involved in higher education reform and in contributing to the establishment of world standards in teaching and educating the next generation. Lecturers introduce their students and colleagues to new teaching techniques, new books and new materials. Interactive methods of education enable them to capture students' attention and make the classroom engaging and collaborative. CEP Fellows make students think and acquire knowledge based on logic and critical thinking, rather than on rote learning. Since those who attend CEP classes must be proficient in at least in one Western European language, CEP students tend to be more advanced. For these students, a CEP course means a different and challenging way of study.

Teaching takes up only part of a CEP lecturer's time and energy. The Fellows participate in curriculum development, assist in the writing of fund-raising projects and initiate and organize (along with the CEP country director) workshops and conferences involving students and faculty colleagues. During most of these events, students who have never been allowed a leadership role take on new responsibilities and gain valuable experience when given the chance.

"It is the belief of the Bulgarian faculty that extra-curricular involvement of their staff and students in conferences and public events is an essential part of [a] department's educational strategy"-- Maria Popova, former Country Director

Outreach Activities: National and Regional CEP projects

Outreach activities have always been a vital part of CEP Bulgaria's program. International student conferences, seminars, debates and law competitions are held yearly, providing students with the opportunity to travel and meet with other students from Bulgaria, the region and internationally to exchange ideas and opinions. During the 1999-2000 academic year, these activities continued to expand the influence of CEP Fellows well beyond the walls of the universities in which they work.

Negotiation Seminar

Thirty-seven students from five Bulgarian universities participated in the second CEP Bulgaria Negotiation Seminar, held in Varna on November 26-28. The students were divided into teams, each representing different interest groups in a simulation game involving the privatization a Bulgarian metallurgical plant. CEP lecturers, being merely observers of the negotiations, were curious as to whether the students would reach an agreement, and after numerous conflicts and heated debate, a Final Agreement was readied and signed.

"I acquired basic knowledge of the process of negotiations, of how one should prepare for it, and I learned how difficult team work is. A great communication practice."-- Evtim Stefanov, Varna Economics University

Bulgarian Moot Court Competition

On February 26, 2000, law students from Sofia University, Plovdiv University, and Burgas Free University competed in the first ever Bulgarian Moot Court Competition. Participants were chosen and coached by Visiting Faculty Fellow Steven Schulwolf (Plovdiv University) and judged by representatives of the American Bar Association, CEP Fellows, and a Bulgarian attorney. While the students worked hard at learning European Union laws and studied the legal aspects of problems related to European Environmental law, they discovered even more significant benefits. Communication skills, something that is often neglected in their usual legal education, and the ability to formulate legal arguments on their own proved a major challenge that will turn into a valuable asset in their future practice as attorneys.

The winning team from the Bulgarian Moot Court Competition participated in the International Moot Court in Ljubljana, Slovenia in April 2000, and ranked 9th among the 24 teams participating.

"Preparing for and participating in the Moot Court Competition was my first contact with European Law. This experience helped me develop my legal reasoning and presentation skills. I learned to work in a team and to respect the other party. This is a very successful launching of the moot court practice in Bulgaria. It should continue and play a role in educating thinking and capable young people [in this country]" - Student participant in the Moot Court Competition

The Student Conference on European Integration and International Security

Held in Sofia, Bulgaria, 31 March-2 April, The Student Conference on European Integration and International Security focused on problems of European integration, NATO membership and international security, with special emphasis on the position of the Balkan countries after the war in the former Yugoslavia. Student representatives from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Russia, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic participated. Also in attendance were several guest speakers from west European universities, European Union institutions, and policy institutes, as well as representatives from the Bulgarian government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission Delegation to Bulgaria and other diplomats.

 

The Annual Balkan Debate Forum

The Balkan Debate Forum was initiated in Bankya, Bulgaria in May 1996. Now, every spring, students from all Balkan countries come together to debate common economic, social and cultural issues. Not merely an academic event, the Forum seeks to establish dialogues and constructive discussions among participants, and to foster tolerance, mutual understanding and respect of others' opinions. In the context of the numerous ethnic and religious conflicts in the Balkans over the past ten years, and the many attempts of the international community to ensure peaceful co-existence, the importance of the Forum has never been greater, as it represents an important opportunity for young people from all over the region to participate in an open dialogue and to share views. Whereas the national, ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups represented by the participants vary greatly, it is only through an active exchange of ideas that these young people can adequately assess their own preconceptions and stereotypes about themselves and their Balkan neighbors. (For more on The Balkan Debate Forum, see CEP Albania and CEP Romania)

The Fifth Annual Balkan Debate Forum was held from May 12 - 14 in Sofia. Forty-two students in fourteen teams represented universities in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and Yugoslavia. For three days, these students of diverse cultures, nationalities, and religions exchanged ideas and opinions on sensitive issues related to the region and not only came to respect each other's opinions, they even danced together. At the end of the Forum, everyone was convinced that living together and being tolerant of one another is not only a precondition for prosperity in the Balkan States, but a goal that can easily be achieved.

"I met completely new people in a place I have never been before. I became more aware of the problems that exist in the Balkans. I also got a lot of new information about the situation in different Balkan countries. I also recognized that this place (Bulgaria) is not too different from Slovenia. I overcame lots of prejudices that I had before this meeting." -- Friderik Ortl, Ljubljana University, Slovenia

A set of video tapes of the Fifth Annual Debate Forum is now available and can be requested by emailing Tsvetelina Popova. Please provide the name of your organization as well as your complete address, telephone and fax numbers.

In addition to the regularly scheduled events on CEP Bulgaria's calendar, the activities of individual Fellows continue to provide the students, faculties, universities and communities of Bulgaria with unique and creative experiences.

Jordan Jordanov, an Local Faculty Fellow at Varna University of Economics prepared a Finance textbook not only for the use of his own students but for his colleagues and other universities in Bulgaria. The textbook released in print during the summer of 2000.

With his newly acquired skills in the Bulgarian language, Visiting Faculty Fellow Steven Schulwolf (Plovdiv University) exchanged ideas with his colleagues about legal matters and practices in the US and Bulgaria, and in the teaching of law. Steven introduced them to inter-active teaching methods, many of which had never been applied in Bulgarian law education. Steven also wrote an article on law education and teaching in Bulgaria.

Robert Castle, Visiting Faculty Fellow at Rousse University and Veliko Turnovo, donated hundreds of books to the Rousse University European Studies Department's new reading room. The renovation of the reading room and the shelves were made possible by the EU "Beautiful Bulgaria Project". He and his colleague, Ivelin Saradmov (Eastern Scholar at the American University in Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad) organized the drive to acquire the books, which including new editions of books and textbooks in Economics, Business, Political Science, and International Relations. In addition to Rousse University, other schools were the beneficiaries of these books, including the New Bulgarian University and Varna University of Economics.

At Varna University of Economics, Visiting Faculty Fellow Sumon Bhaumik provided free subscriptions to several foreign economics periodicals for the university library and assisted several of his colleagues with research and curriculum development.

Local Faculty Fellow Tamara Todorova (Varna University of Economics) participated in a TEMPUS Joint European Project entitled "Partnership of the Bulgarian Economic Universities in the Development of an Inter-University Bachelor's Degree in Business Logistics." The project was carried out with the participation of lecturers from three Bulgarian universities and several West European universities. The outcome of the project was the development of a Joint Bachelor's Degree in Business Logistics, which is currently offered as a second major at Varna University of Economics and a first major at the University for National and World Economy in Sofia. Tamara also developed two topics for the International Logistics Module: The Marketing Process in International Environment, and the Role of Intermediaries in International Logistics. She was also involved in the development and updating of the curriculum of the International Economics Relations Major. Also, based on her experience with CEP, Tamara initiated the launch of a student evaluation for all professors and disciplines. This was accepted by the department faculty. Tamara also developed a comprehensive questionnaire, which was distributed to her students. (Note: A student evaluation is not usual at Bulgarian universities.)

"The standards of education and ability of the students and faculty here are very high, and I often feel that it is they who are teaching me, and not the reverse!"-- Robert Castle, Visiting Faculty Fellow, Rousse University and Veliko Turnovo University

Bulgaria

Bulgaria is situated in southeastern Europe in the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. To the north Bulgaria borders on Romania, to the south on Greece and Turkey, to the west on Serbia and Macedonia (former Yugoslavia) and to the east on the Black Sea.

With a population of over eight million, Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic in which the sovereign power belongs to the people, who exercise it through representative bodies elected by direct and secret ballot. Every Bulgarian citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote or to be elected to public office. The state power is divided into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The head of the state is the President, who unifies and represents the nation in international relations.

The transition to a market economy began in Bulgaria after the restoration of democracy on November 10, 1989. Chemical plants, metallurgy and machine-construction are the key components in the country's heavy industry. Food, wine and tobacco, as well as agriculture and stock-breeding, are of major importance to the country's economy. Bulgaria exports various agricultural products, such as vegetables, fruits, tobacco and dairy produce. Twelve wineries produce world-famous Bulgarian wines.

 

Universities hosting CEP Fellows

American University in Bulgaria
The Plovdiv University "Paissii Hilendarsky"
The Rousse University
Sofia University "St. Kl. Ohridsky"
The University for National and World Economy - Sofia
Varna Free University
Varna University of Economics
Veliko Turnovo University

 

The Bulgarian Higher Education System  

Based on German and Russian models, the Bulgarian higher education system is basically conservative and resistant to change. Nevertheless, reform efforts are underway, although they move slowly. Change starts within faculties and departments. Younger faculty members introduce new programs in certain disciplines and manage them independently. These programs have a curriculum modeled (as far as possible) on Western standards, with stronger foreign language instruction and smaller classes to enable interactive learning and teaching. The programs usually host a CEP Visiting Faculty Fellow, and/or foreign lecturer(s) supported by other international exchange programs. 

The Local Faculty Fellow Program in Bulgaria plays an important role in widening CEP's impact on many major Bulgarian universities and departments. Local Faculty Fellow Fellows have obtained their degrees at western universities, and some of them have had teaching experience at the institutions they attended. Because there is no language barrier, CEP Local Faculty Fellows actively cooperate with Visiting Faculty Fellows, implementing interactive methods of teaching and providing students with recent study materials in their fields. The Local Faculty Fellows contribute significantly to fostering changes in Bulgarian higher education. 

"I have an organization to rely upon for assistance. I have people to talk to, to ask for help and advice, or to have fun with. In return, all I have to do is teach, which I was going to do anyway, and to be a part of the CEP activities, which is a sheer pleasure. I don't know about other people, but it is a good deal for me!"–Prof. Georgy Ganev, Sofia University Economics and Business Faculty, Local Faculty Fellow Alumnus

Macedonia

In 2000 – 2001 academic year CEP launched its program in Macedonia by supporting one Visiting Faculty Fellow. The program is administered by the CEP office in Bulgaria. CEP Visiting Faculty Fellow Kevin Adamson whose field is European Politics is based at St. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, which is the biggest and most established higher education institution in the Republic of Macedonia. During the first semester Kevin Adamson taught a West European Politics course to undergraduate students at the Department of Sociology at the Faculty of Philosophy, one of the largest faculties at the University. He is also in touch with the Masters students in European Studies through a series of ad hoc lectures.

Along with teaching Kevin Adamson is involved in several other projects developed in collaboration with university colleagues and international institutions in Macedonia. One of the most important is the European Integration Project designed by the Director of the British Council Macedonia and Kevin Adamson. The project envisions four phases. Phase one has received approval from the British Council Regional Deputy Director for SEE, and involves the teaching by Kevin Adamson of a course in EU Politics for 15 weeks to staff of the Republic of Macedonia "European Integration Office" - a special government body made up of officials from all ministries to prioritise the Government’s European integration strategy. The other three parts of the project include special courses in policy areas, special courses in skills, such as presentation and public relations and negotiation skills, and a wide reaching translation project from English to Macedonian of EU related texts.

The plans for the second semester involve developing a partnership with the Consortium formed by three Institutes at the University – the Institute for Sociological, Political and Juridical Research, the Institute of History and the Institute of Economics and an NGO named EUROBALKAN. The partnership will include a seminar series on European Union Politics delivered by the CEP Visiting Faculty Fellow to postgraduate students of the member Institutes.

 

Further information about fellow/s/ in the country could be found in the CEP Directory
The 2000-2001 Fellows Directory is available in .pdf format. Click here to view the file.

Boriana Savova, a CEP student from the American University in Bulgaria, was chosen by the U.S. Embassy in Sofia from more than sixty AUBG students to represent Bulgarian students during President Clinton's visit November 19-21 in Bulgaria. Boriana, surrounded by President Clinton, Bulgarian President Stojanov, Prime Minister Kostov, and Sofia Mayor Sofijanski, had a speech in front of hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians who had gathered to welcome Clinton on the Alexaander Nevski Square in Sofia.


CEP Bulgaria Student Negotiation Seminar
Varna, November 26-28 1999


CEP Bulgaria Student Negotiation Seminar
Varna, November 26-28 1999


CEP Bulgaria Student Negotiation Seminar
Varna, November 26-28 1999

 
Plovdiv, Bulgaria


Sofia, Bulgaria


Bookfair in Sofia


New Country Director for Bulgaria and Macedonia
Tsvetelina Popova


University of St Cyril and Methodius
Skopje
Macedonia


Down town
Skopje
Macedonia


Bulgaria, Sofia University

 

 

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