CEP’s Central Europe Program currently operates in the following countries: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia. Given the recent developments in these countries - with accession to the European Union anticipated in 2004 and their governments’ increased efforts to create the European Higher Education Area as a result of the Bologna process - CEP has reassessed its programs and developed a more targeted approach for Central Europe (CE).

In line with CEP’s general mission, but taking into account the new regional context and the potential CEP has developed in CE over the last ten years, the main goals for this region are to help: 1. develop the most promising social science scholars; 2. build local and regional discipline- or issue-based networks; 3. connect academics to the community in a meaningful way; and 4. build and maintain bridges between Central Europe and countries further east, through the transfer of skills and knowledge.

With these goals in mind, the main areas of focus for CEP in Central Europe will be: professional development programs in the context of the Bologna process, academic networking, increasing opportunities in higher education for minorities and projects connecting academics with the larger community. Beginning with 2003-2004, CEP will no longer offer individual support through the Local Faculty Fellowship Program. CEP's focus in CE will not be on "retaining" scholars in academia but rather on empowering and creating a pool of resource persons who can later assist CEP in transferring skills and knowledge to other regions.

Building upon the experience of the PhD Studies Support Program and of other professional development programs developed in Hungary, Romania, Belarus/Ukraine/Moldova and Central Asia, CEP has developed a new Continuing Professional Development Program, which will offer a one-year training course focusing on: 1. Teaching and Learning, with a special focus on Problem-based Learning; 2. Course Development, with a special focus on the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and the Bologna process; and 3. Professional/Academic Skills Building. For each of these course elements CEP will work closely with a Western training organization, who will share its experience and provide expertise. Participants will be selected in clusters, representing targeted university departments, which are open to change, determined to invest in it and interested in cooperating with other like-minded departments in Eastern Europe. Through such targeting, the program will not only assist participants in their individual professional development, but in some cases directly cooperate with departments to implement changes in the Bologna - ECTS context.

CEP Central Europe is aiming at further training academics and creating a pool of resources able not only to help universities adapt to the new context, but also to assist colleagues in the pre-accession countries who are already struggling with similar issues. The plan is to create an effective model of professional development, which will equip junior academics with the key skills needed to function well in the new European Higher Education Area, and which can later be implemented in other CEP regions.

CEP Central Europe will continue to support local and regional projects, which connect academia to the community and emphasize the social responsibilities of universities and individual scholars. Through CEP’s existing Small Project Scheme, several such projects are supported in areas such as Social Entrepreneurship, Community Service Learning, Environmental Policy, Community Awareness Raising on Local Ecological Values, Media Representation of Crime and Punishment and Civil Economy. CEP hopes to help these projects expand both locally and regionally and to assist them in exporting some of these models within the CEP networks.

By building on its previous experience and by utilizing the existing network of Fellows and alumni, CEP is in a unique position to act as a bridge between the expanding European Union and Eastern Europe, in areas such as the Bologna process, professional development, academic networks, community-related projects and civic education.

"I would compare CEP to a rolling snowball. It is seemingly small, but may trigger considerable change. CEP really motivates scholars and their students alike, thus creating a fruitful academic partnership between them. I hope that some of my students will become the CEP scholars of the near future, and the ball rolls on."

Monika Pál, Local Faculty Fellow Alumna, Hungary

"Thanks to CEP, I have considerably improved my teaching in all aspects, and have numerous ideas as to how to improve it even more. CEP has taught me how to become a creative teacher. Finally, CEP created a network of young academics with whom sharing ideas and experiences is incredibly enriching and supporting. From this network, a number of excellent novel projects have sprung up and many more are yet to come."

Premysl Macha, Local Faculty Fellow, Czech Republic

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