Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
CEP launched its Caucasus Program in Georgia in January 1998, with three Visiting Lecturers (now calledVisiting Faculty Fellows - VFFs) in Tbilisi. In September 1998, CEP supported four Visiting Fellows and two Local Faculty Fellows (LFFs - formerly Eastern Scholars) in Tbilisi, and began operations in Armenia with three Visiting and one Local Fellow, all based in Yerevan. The Caucasus program expanded further in 1999-2000. Thanks to a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, five Visiting and four Local Fellows taught in Armenia, and four Visiting and three Local Fellows were based in Georgia.
In 2000-01, CEP expanded its contacts with universities outside the capital cities in both Armenia and Georgia. It also for the first time hosted both Visiting and Local Fellows in Azerbaijan - at Baku State University, Azerbaijan University, Khazar University and Western University.
Despite its modest beginnings, the program has been enlarged in size and content. In three short years, it has gained the recognition and respect of partner universities, their faculties and students, as well as various NGO's working in the region, and is now firmly established in the academic life of the region.
"It was so difficult to get used to the idea that questioning the lecturer is something not only allowed but also encouraged. It helped me personally to overcome the psychological barrier between myself and the instructor, which was always an obstacle for my personal development and learning."
A CEP student from Gyumri
The Third Regional Student Conference
On 23-26 November 2000, the Third Regional Student Conference, "Issues and Approaches for the Caucasus," was held in Tbilisi, Georgia. Thirty-nine students from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan presented papers in eight panels: Regional Integration in the Caucasus; Gender/Social Issues; Economic Issues in the Caucasus; Contemporary Issues for the Caucasus in Transition; Culture through Images; Conflict Resolution in the Caucasus; Media/Environment in the Caucasus; Social and Political Issues in the Caucasus; and, Human Rights in the Caucasus. CEP Fellows chaired the panels and representatives of local NGOs and international experts were invited as discussants. CEP Fellows Talin Der Grigorian-Kotchikian and Jack Miller organized two separate workshops: "Culture Through Images" and "Oil Pricing: a Negotiation Simulation".
The First CEP Caucasus Debate Forum
The Caucasus Debate Forum was organized and held in Tbilisi, Georgia in March 2001, as a means to assemble students from the Caucasus region in an atmosphere of openness and intellectual challenge, and to provide an international academic setting for students to research and address recurrent arguments associated with the Caucasus region. The first of its kind, the Forum had as its goal the elimination of some of the many prevalent prejudices and stereotypes, thus helping to prevent further conflicts in the region. Thirty students attended - ten each from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
"Armenians and Azeris, who had been understandably distant with one another on the first day, were hugging and kissing goodbye, and exchanging e-mail addresses. When we left by mini-bus Azeris and Georgians were all standing by the hotel waving goodbye, and they didn't stop waving until we were out of sight."
Daniel Moses, VFF in Armenia, on the First CEP Caucasus Debate Forum
Youth Forum of the Caucasus: Building A Healthy Region
CEP Fellows organized a "Youth Forum of the Caucasus", May 3-6, 2001, as part of the effort to encourage democracy through education and to help build a civil society. Earlier in the year, students in the Caucasus Region had several opportunities to present controversial views and to debate issues. While these events were valuable, this event introduced students to another approach: collaboration and community building.
Nineteen students from Georgia and twenty-nine from Armenia convened at a popular Armenian mountain retreat - the "Gorge of Flowers" - where they had an opportunity to strengthen relationships through work, as well as through social and recreational activities.
International Student Conference
Thirteen students were selected from the Caucasus to present papers at the annual International Student Conference in Budapest. From the Caucasus team, Vugar Fataliyev (Baku State University), won a Best Paper Award for his paper on Integration between the South Caucasus and Russia.
First Georgian Conference: "Georgia Past, Present, Future"
Conducted in the mountain resort of Gudauri on May 11-13, the conference was held in the Georgian language, with fourteen students selected from Tbilisi State University, Telavi State University, and Caucasus Business School. Two CEP students from Georgian Technical University assisted in the event, giving a presentation on "being a CEP student and attending CEP events", as well as organizing two workshops dealing with culture difference and tolerance "The Bafa-Bafa Game" and "Culture through Images". Georgian LFFs hope to continue organizing such events in the local languages for those students who don't speak English and cannot participate in international or regional CEP events.
A number of public lectures were given by CEP Fellows during the 2000-01 academic year. On April 21, 2001, the Area Studies Student Conference was organized by Visiting Fellow Daniel Moses (Yerevan State Brusov Institute of Foreign Languages) and CEP alumnus John Mason. It was held at the newly renamed Yerevan State Linguistic University.
"Beginning to end, the conference was filled with thoughtful papers, lively discussions and a wonderful esprit de corps. The Area Studies Conference was the perfect training ground for students who later participated in other CEP events. Two of the participants rushed off the next day for the Budapest conference; many others attended the Youth Forum of the Caucasus the following week."
Nino Dzotsenidze, CEP Caucasus Country Director
A series of guest lectures and workshops was held at the Yerevan State Institute of Economy in Gyumri. CEP Fellows lectured in groups of two - one lecturer-one translator - on various topics. Barbara Coe talked on the role of the US Government in providing the framework and support for capitalism. Visiting Fellow Talin Der Gregorian-Kotchikian (Yerevan State University) lectured on "Transnational Corporations and Global Economy". Visiting Fellow Asbed Kotchikyan (Yerevan State) talked about the Czech privatization experience. Together with Asbed, Talin organized a workshop for students in Gyumri on Western Higher Education and Interview techniques for scholarships. Asbed also delivered a Guest lecture in Oshakan.
Local Fellow Armine Asryan (Armenian Open University) participated in an Institutional Assessment Instrument Training Program organized by the World Learning Armenian NGO Strengthening Program, during which she conducted an assessment of the Armenian NGO Maternity Fund. She participated in a research project on local government in Armenia, organized by the Civil Society Development Union, and wrote a report on "Corruption and Human Rights" within the framework of Catholic Relief Society. She participated in the diploma defense of the 4th year student she had supervised and conducted a workshop at the Open University on "Studying Abroad."
Visiting Fellow Margaret Pierce (Yerevan State University) edited English language summaries for the Sociology Department. She also participated in the Open Society Institute - Assistance Foundation, conducting interviews of physicians applying for training conferences in Vienna and Salzburg, and assisted in the selection of Fulbright scholars at the US Embassy.
Shushan Kurkchiyan(Yerevan State University) worked on research devoted to Health Care in Armenia, and wrote an article in Armenian for a handbook on civil society. She also translated several articles on social issues, such as suicides in Gyumri, housing for the elderly in Armenia, and youth opinion on genocide.
Barbara Coeorganized a workshop at the School of Public Administration entitled "Flourishing Armenia: The Role of the Young Generation in Governance", which was attended by roughly thirty students. The workshop began with an address on "human development" by Nune Yeghiazarian of the United Nations Development Program office in Armenia. Barbara also facilitated a strategy session on individual visioning.
Lilit Davoyan(Armenian Open University) organized a student conference at the Institute of Socioeconomic Development in Armenia and supervised four students participating in the conference. A Muskie Fellowship alumna, she took an active role in all CEP Caucasus events, including the conference of Small and Medium Enterprise development in Armenia, where she was one of the key speakers. At preset, Lilit is working on her dissertation.
With Daniel Moses and John Mason, Talin Der Gregorian-Kotchikyan helped set up the English Speaking Student Center, where she held discussions for the students. She donated about 500 books to different departments and universities, including Yerevan State University's Art History Department, English Department, and Brusov Area Study Room, and to Gyumri School of Economics.
Daniel Moseshelped organize a movie series at Brusov and donated ten movies that he brought with him from the US.
Asbed Kotchikyanworked with several NGO's to provide free access to the Internet for university students. He also participated in the CEP pilot program in the Baltics, where he lectured at Riga University for two weeks.
In November 2000 at Western University, Visiting Fellow Francois Depelteau organized a public debate on feminism. The main goal was to structure a rational discussion on the utility of Western feminist theories in Azerbaijan. Visiting Fellow Michael Maurer (Khazar University, Baku) served as a moderator and Jack Miller (Azerbaijan University) coached the student participants.
In March 2001, Depelteau gave three lectures to students of Visiting Fellow Donnacha O'Beachain in Tbilisi on the topic, "The Relationships Between Democracy and Nationalism through a General Overview of the Nationalist Movement in Quebec."
At Khazar University in Baku, Mike Maurer conducted CV writing workshops and lectured on "How to Write a Better Proposal for Applying for Conferences and Grants."
Jack Millerconducted a brief training session on small group teaching methods for local Medical Psychology professors.
CEP Local Fellow and Executive Editor of the journal "Social Bilgiler" ("Social Knowledge"), Etibar Najafov published his book "The Correlation Between Culture and Civilization in Social Development", which was partially funded by CEP. He also submitted an article, "Comparative Analysis of the two Historical Models of Modernization", for publication in the United Kingdom.
Visiting Fellow Daye Thurbin and Local Fellow Giorgi Zedginidze, both of Tbilisi State University, traveled to Telavi State University, in the Kakheti region, where Daye gave a lecture on human rights and a workshop on CV writing. Giorgi translated the lecture and workshop into Georgian. In the spring semester, Daye gave a series of lectures at the Robakidze University in Tbilisi.
Donnacha O'Beachaintraveled to Akhaltsikhe University in the south of Georgia and presented a lecture on the topic "The European Union: Myth and the Reality." One of his students accompanied him and translated the lecture into Georgian. Donnacha also gave a lecture at International House on "Ireland: History and Society". Donnacha gave a talk on "Democracy, Justice, and Equality" at the Civics and Debate Teaching Center at Robakidze University and also traveled to Abkhazia (a region of Georgia currently experiencing conflict) to observe and meet with university and NGO representatives. He is planning to have guest lectures there in fall 2001.
In November, Donnacha, Local Fellow Keti Vashakidze and CEP alumnus Hans Gutbrod organized a workshop on active learning methods at a Teacher Training Seminar for Georgian university teachers.
Maya Gogoladze, Local Fellow at Tbilisi State University, was involved in Democracy Education Seminars for young people. This program, with its focus on four topics (democracy and democratization, the role of local self-governance, citizenship, citizen's rights and responsibilities and international conventions on women rights), was designed for high school and university students in several regions of Georgia.
In the spring semester, Visiting Fellow Joe Bensen (Tbilisi State University) initiated an experimental documentary class/project in which students took photos representing elements of change in post-Soviet Georgian society.
Tamara Zurabishvili(Telvai State University) organized a round-table discussion entitled "Sociology in Georgia: Modern State and Perspectives." It was held in June at Telavi State University in conjunction with the Open Society Georgia Foundation Social Sciences Support Program. On hand were invited professors from different faculties at Tbilisi State University. Eduard Kodua, Dean of the Sociology Department at Tbilisi State University, delivered a speech on the history of Georgian sociology, its current condition and problems. Participants also discussed sociology developments in Georgia.
Giorgi Zedginidzewrote an article for a special anniversary edition of the Alumni News magazine (CEU), which was published in August 2001.
With Vugar Abdusalimov (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), Francois Depelteau and Etibar Najafov visited two refugee camps in Azerbaijan (Beylagan and Saatli). Afterwards, Francois wrote an article that was published in the Canadian magazine L'Actualite'Montreal.
Francois and Etibar worked on the creation of the Center of Research-Action on Democracy and Post-communism (CRADEP), now associated with CEP, which employs more than twenty researchers in eight countries (Western and Eastern), about half of whom are CEP Fellows. CRADEP is also associated with a research center in Montreal, Canada. One of the main goals of this project is to create new opportunities of autonomous academic activities for eastern researchers.
Francois also found time to return to Minsk, Belarus, in November 2000, to complete the setup of a student association that he initiated the previous year. The main goals of the association are to give authority to students to defend their interests at the university, to create contacts with students outside Belarus, and to organize social and cultural activities.
Maya Gogoladze, with Francois, Etibar, and Hayk Gyuzalyan (Yerevan State) worked on a joint project, "High Income Strata in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia: the Role in Development of Civic Society". The project was established to investigate the values, lifestyle and culture of the new middle strata of the population in these three countries and to define their role in building democratic and civil societies.
As part of a team organized by OSI, Michael Maurer, under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), was an observer of the November Azerbaijan Parliamentary Elections in the city of Mingachevir in western Azerbaijan.
Jack Millerand Mike Maurer participated in a National Peace Foundation conflict resolution workshop outside Baku in which about a dozen students from Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia engaged in simulations for the purpose of learning negotiation, mediation, and conflict-resolution skills.
Armenian Embassy in Washington, DC
Armenian Resources on the Net
CIA Fact Book
UK Travel Advice
US Consular Information Sheet
Armenian Open University
Brusov Institute of Foreign Languages
Gyumri Branch, Yerevan State Economic Institute
Yerevan State University
Azerbaijan on the Internet
Embassy of Azerbaijan, Washington, D.C.
UK Travel Advice
US Consular Information
Azerbaijan University, Baku
Baku State University
Embassy of Georgia to the US, Canada, and Mexico
Some general Information
UK Travel Advice
US Consular information sheet
The Georgian Institute of Public Administration
Georgian Technical University
Tbilisi State University
Telavi State University