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INTRODUCTION

Mission

The International Academic Network in Socio-Cultural and Historical Anthropology aims to connect junior faculty and young researchers from universities in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, including Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Hungary, and support their work as educators and scholars in the anthropological sciences. In addition to working for the advancement of the related disciplines, the network is also committed to the implementation of new research and teaching methods in academia in the region. In the long term, the organizers hope to extend the activities of the network to include colleagues from the Baltic states and Central Asia.

Rationale

Transition to democracy in the formerly communist countries has elicited new socio-cultural paradigms and a movement of modernization in higher education in both content and structure. Traditionally, higher education institutions and research centers in the former communist bloc have focussed on mainstream disciplines, showing a positivist approach and making extensive use of teaching and research methodologies that motivated neither students nor scholars to play an active role in teaching, learning and research. Assessment techniques and research methods that failed to capitalize on students’ and scholars’ capacity for critical thinking and problem-solving and overemphasized the role of memory as the main indicator of performance, hindered the development of teachers, researchers and other professionals.
It is in this larger context that the Network aims to fill in this gap by fostering the advancement of methodologies applied in the anthropological sciences in the region. 

The network’s history

The Department of History and International Relations of the Free International University, Chisinau, Moldova, in cooperation with the Institute of History, University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland, launched a new study program in Fall 2001. The program is rooted in its participants’ conviction that the development of new social and cultural skills, roles and behaviours, access to information and the ability to react dynamically to changes are integral conditions for the modernization of society. Supported by OSI/HESP, the program’s goal is to modernize education and research processes in the department through international cooperation. In the first phase of implementation, the department organized several academic events to explore ways of improving the quality of education and modernizing scientific paradigms. Events included workshops on active teaching and learning, visits to universities in Poland, Romania, Great Britain, Hungary and France, and intensive courses with the participation of Western academics.

Goals

In this context, IANA offers junior academics an opportunity and potential to broaden and deepen their cooperation with colleagues in the region. Capitalizing on our partners’ extensive experience in implementing new teaching and research methodologies and through active collaboration with advisers from Western universities and Fellows in the CEP Belarus-Ukraine-Moldova program, the network will engage in the following academic activities in 2002-03:

  • establishing ANI Resource Centers in Moldova, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania in order to facilitate cooperation among junior faculty members and senior academics from the post-totalitarian space
  • creation and improvement of thematic libraries in each ANI Resource Center as sources of information, resource materials and teaching methodology which will support the improvement of the teaching skills of junior faculty members from periphery universities in the region;
  • academic workshops, public lectures, and trainings on ways to advance core disciplines, exchange academic and research experience in the field of anthropology
  • network building through the elaboration of joint research projects, active teaching and learning materials development, involving academics from European and Central Asia countries organizing thematic workshops and an international workshop in Chisinau;
  • designing the network’s web page to facilitate links between academics and institutes, as well as the development of the mechanisms and conditions of the teaching quality, individual and collective scientific work, competitiveness and professionalism of lecturers; and
  • end of year International Workshop "Society, Ethnos and Cultural Paradigms in the Post-Totalitarian Space" in Chisinau, Moldova.
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