Bulgaria and Macedonia
"I have seen first hand 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 Lecturer Alumnus
CEP launched its Bulgaria program in 1992. Since then more than sixty Visiting Lecturers (now calledVisiting Faculty Fellows - VFFs) and Eastern Scholars (now called Local Faculty Fellows - LFFs) have taught courses within the humanities and social sciences at eleven major state and private universities. For the academic year 2000-2001, the program also extended to include Skopje University in Macedonia. In total, the program supported six Visiting and four Local Fellows in the two countries, teaching at five universities. The teaching included elective courses not ordinarily offered at Bulgarian and Macedonian universities, as well as courses that formed parts of the core curricula. In addition to this teaching, the CEP Fellows were involved in a number of outreach activities, as well as organizing and participating in a number of national and international CEP events.
Students greatly appreciate the presence of the CEP Fellows, both Visiting and Local. 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 and persuasion in the early years to a competition among the universities applying for CEP Visiting Fellow placement.
From the beginning, CEP 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 teaching materials. Interactive methods of education enable them to capture students' attention and make the classroom an engaging and collaborative place. CEP Fellows make students think critically and acquire knowledge based on logic, rather than on rote learning and rhetoric. For the students concerned, a CEP course means a different and challenging way of studying, and also a gateway to further opportunities.
"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 CEP Bulgaria Country Director
Teaching takes up only part of CEP Fellows' time and energy. They participate in functions such as curriculum development or assisting in writing fund-raising proposals, but they also initiate, organize (along with the CEP country director), and participate in events such as 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.
Outreach activities have always been a vital part of CEP's program here. Student conferences, seminars, debates and simulation competitions have been held every year, providing students with opportunities to travel and meet with other students from Bulgaria, from the region, and from the wider context, to exchange ideas and opinions. During the 2000-01 academic year, these activities continued to expand the influence of CEP Fellows well beyond the walls of the universities in which they work.
CEP Bulgaria-Macedonia students and Fellows participated in a numerous CEP international and regional student events. Fellows, and Fellow Alumni, participated actively in the application and selection processes of the various student events, and worked with their students to prepare them for participation.
Third Annual International Student Negotiation Simulation
"Determining the Route - Southeast European Road Transport Infrastructure Development Project"
March 2-4, 2001, in Bistritsa, Sofia
This was the third year of the Negotiation Simulation, but was the first time that it had been made into an international event. Dave Carter (Varna University of Economics) and Kevin Adamson were the main organizers, but with input from Fellows Boris Kostov (Sofia University) and Robert Castle. During the event, most of the country team, as well as colleagues from the Albania Program, assisted as Team Mentors, or in the running of the simulation. Thirty-two students participated in the event, representing eight universities and in five different countries.
The Simulation involved the student-participants taking on the roles of regional governments (although never their ‘own’ government) at an ‘international conference’. They were given basic mentoring and supporting materials, but were then required to act in their roles without interference from Fellows, and to seek to reach agreement. True to life, agreement was achieved, but only at literally the very last minute!
"Legacies and Challenges in Europe"
Bucharest, March 2001
Three student participants and one Fellow from Bulgaria, and one student and one Fellow from Macedonia participated in this event. Of the more than fifty students presenting papers at the conference, Bulgaria’s Milka Janakieva (Varna University) won second prize, while Macedonia’s Igor Danilovic (University of Skopje) was third place winner. However, more importantly, the aims of the conference were achieved in terms of an international exchange of academic ideas and understanding by some of the region’s brightest students.
"It was great to see how, outside of the formal university environment, [the students] were able to stretch their intellectual wings and really contribute..."
Kevin Adamson, Visiting Fellow
Ninth Annual International Student Conference
"Future in the Making: Opportunities...Choices...Consequences"
April 24-29, 2001
Five students (four from Bulgaria and one from Macedonia) and one Visiting Fellow participated. Students, Milka Janakieva and Petar Cholakov (Sofia University) earned best paper awards, while Igor Danilovic and Vladimir Lazarov (Sofia University) received special mention for their papers. All four papers were put forward to be considered for publication in the Conferences Proceedings. Visiting Fellow Dave Carter moderated one panel, ran a Curriculum Vitae workshop with two other Visiting Fellows, and participated in the Conflict Simulation game. He is also one of the editors of the Conference Proceedings.
"I, for one, will remember this conference as the first academic activity bringing me a publication nomination and the experience of academic and cultural exchange I hoped to accomplish."
Vladimir Lazarov, University of Sofia, Bulgaria
Balkan Debate Forum
The Balkan Debate Forum was initiated in Bankya, Bulgaria in May 1996. Now, every spring, students from across the Balkans come together to debate on 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 for 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.
"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
The Sixth Annual Balkan Debate Forum was held May 14-18, 2001 in Timisoara, Romania at the Academy of Economic Studies. Almost fifty students represented universities throughout the Balkan countries, including ten students from the CEP Bulgaria-Macedonia program. Zoya Ivanova (American University of Bulgaria) and Boris Cheshirkov (New Bulgarian University) came away with two "Best Speaker" awards. Also, Fellows Boyan Znepolski (Sofia University) and Tanya Wanchek (University of Rousse) were involved in the event itself, as team coaches, and a number of Fellows from the program assisted in the preparation of reading packets for the students prior to the event.
"Although it's only a Balkan thing, it still means meeting foreign people with cultures different from your own and at the same time possessing some common traits… [E]ventually you become more aware of your own identity, but also learn to appreciate that of others, to gain a respect for diversity and individuality."
Daniela Stefovska, CEP student, Varna Economics University, Bulgaria
Participant at the 6th BDF
For more onThe Balkan Debate Forum, see the CEP Southeast Europe (Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia) Pages.
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.
Mort Schwartz(VFF - Sofia University) taught over 200 students from the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sofia University and offered a graduate seminar on "Analysis of the Public Sector" to both Business Administration and Public Administration Program students and faculty. He was invited by the Dean to participate in both the Opening and Graduation ceremonies of the Faculty. During the 2000 American elections, Mort, who has also served as a US Senate and US Department of Commerce officer, was invited to comment on the disputed presidential race for a TV political magazine program. Mort was involved in the curriculum and teaching reform efforts of the Faculty by providing expertise and materials. He had colleagues from the Economics, Law and English faculties sit in on his classes, scheduled presentation by outside experts on setting up a Bulgarian stock-market. He gave guest lectures in a university colleague's Public Finance class and in the Universities of Varna and Rousse on the invitation of CEP Fellows teaching there. He worked with students on the development of a teacher evaluation instrument and was involved, together with his wife Mina, in the charitable initiatives of the Student Diplomatic Club. Mina Schwartz arranged to teach Business English to students from the same faculty and participated in all university and student events, as very much a part of the team.
Dave Carterand John O'Brennan (VFFs - Varna Economics University) participated in and contributed essays to the International Roundtable on Globalization, organized to celebrate the tenth Anniversary of the Faculty of International Economic Relations. They also took part in a seminar on language, organized by the Languages Department to coincide with European Languages Week. Dave’s Public International Law classes were attended by students from the Law Department of Varna Technical University. Both John’s and Dave’s classes were regularly attended by a number of their university colleagues, which supported informal discussion and exchange of ideas and materials concerning teaching methodologies. Dave also tutored students for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) external exam (the UK professional accountancy exam). In addition to his scheduled class-load, John offered an advanced course in EU Accession, to the Masters students at the University.
Tanya Wanchek participated in the European Identities Conference, organized by CEP and the European Studies Department of Rousse University, and gave a seminar on e-commerce to a student group. She also continued in the process instigated by her predecessor- Robert Castle - in the establishment and expansion of the European Studies library and reading room in the University.
Along with teaching at the New Bulgarian University, Visiting Fellow Robert Castle continued his relationship with his former host institution, Rousse University. He taught an International Relations course there during the spring semester, and continued his efforts to support the establishment of the European Studies reading room. These extra efforts saw Robert receive a special note of thanks from Rousse University, Department of European Studies. As in previous years, Robert organized the purchase of second-hand textbooks from students at the American University in Bulgaria. The books have since been catalogued, and will be distributed to universities across Bulgaria.
CEP's Visiting Fellow in Macedonia, Kevin Adamson, was involved in designing and delivering a four-phase British Council Project. Phase one involved Kevin teaching a course in European Union Politics for fifteen weeks to the staff of Macedonia's European Integration Office, a government body made up of officials from all ministries set up to prioritize the government's Euro integration strategy. Phases two-to-four covered courses in specific policy areas; skills training - presentations, public relations and negotiation skills; and, a translation project of EU and EU related texts into Macedonian, in support of the other phases of the project. In addition, Kevin was closely involved in CEP’s commencement of a new partnership with a consortium of three Institutes at the University of Skopje: The Institute for Sociological, Political and Juridical Research; The Institute of History, and the Institute of Economics; and, the NGO EUROBALKAN. The partnership involved a seminar series on European Union Politics, which Kevin delivered to postgraduate students of the consortium's institute members. Within all of this, Kevin still found time to support the participation of his students in a number of CEP international events, which was particularly important given Macedonia’s relative isolation in recent years. Kevin’s work in the program was not limited to Macedonia - as well as involvement in a number of the CEP events, he was also a collaborator with the Institute of Public Administration in Bulgaria to help them design a program for government officials involved in the process of EU integration.
Boyan Znepolskiis the lead scholar in the preparation of an issue of the magazine, Critics and Humanism entitled, "The Myths in Contemporary Bulgarian Historiography." He took part in the bi-weekly seminar, "Phenomenology and the Social Sciences" at the Faculty of Philosophy, Sofia University. Boyan also received a prestigious research grant from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences for studying Contemporary Historiography Methodological Problems (February - March, 2001).
Boris Kostovwill continue teaching this year as a Local Faculty Fellow at the Political Science Department, Sofia University, where he will establish a new teaching position in the European Studies Department. He was also involved in the preparation for the Negotiation Simulation, and has already begun work on the next edition of this annual event.
After two years of hard work, Jordan Jordanov (second year LFF, supported by theGerman Marshall Fund - Varna Economics University) was finally able to see the self-publication of his course book Financial Investment. The book, based on work done for his doctoral thesis and dealing with stock market operation and financial products, was primarily intended to support the teaching of his courses, but is likely to have a much wider readership. For more information, contact Jordan by email. Despite the dedication needed to complete this work, Jordan nevertheless found time to work with his two CEP colleagues in Varna, John and Dave, and was a regular participant in the other country events. He is currently working on a joint project with the Center for Liberal Strategies.
Second year Fellow at Sofia University, Svetlana Stamenova, also supported by the German Marshall Fund, invited Professor Gabor Toka from the Political Science Department at Central European University in Budapest to give guest lectures at Sofia University and New Bulgarian University.
"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… and to be a part of the CEP activities, which is a sheer pleasure. I don't know about other people, but it sounds like a good deal to me!"
Professor Georgy Ganev, Eastern Scholar Alumnus
American University in Bulgaria
New Bulgarian University
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
South-West University "Neofit Rilski", Blagoevgrad