Czech Republic and Slovakia
"CEP Visiting Faculty Fellows serve as a source of information. They bring different experiences and are initiators of outreach activities. They bring new views, an international atmosphere, their own contacts, culture, and various backgrounds, all of which broaden horizons and help to keep the balanced environment within the group."_Zora Vidovencova, Country Director
By the end of the current academic year, Civic Education Project's oldest program will have celebrated a decade of higher educational reform and outreach activities in the former Czechoslovakia. Visiting Faculty Fellows and Local Faculty Fellows continue to be well received by all the host institutions, student numbers continue to climb and Fellows continue to pursue innovative outreach projects. For academic year 1999-2000, CEP supported eleven Fellows (two Visiting Faculty Fellows in each country, four Local Faculty Fellows in the Czech Republic and three Local Faculty Fellows in Slovakia) at six universities. At the same time, the program began to shift its focus from the Visiting Faculty Fellow Program in the Czech Republic to a reliance on Local Faculty Fellows to carry the program and its accomplishments into the new millennium.
"The [Local Faculty Fellow] program is much more than a support group for young academics. It is a regional information network dedicated to informing young scholars and their students of various educational and support programs, as well as in extending our existing knowledge about study abroad." -- Jiri Sedivy, Local Faculty Fellow Alumnus, Charles University
CEP's Local Faculty Fellow Program is a conscious strategy to reverse the "brain drain" from the region by helping promising young scholars who have received graduate education abroad to return home to teach. CEP assists these scholars by providing financial and institutional assistance, teaching materials, enrichment programs, and access to its international network of scholars. Many Local Faculty Fellows are former students of the original Visiting Faculty Fellows
In addition to teaching, CEP Fellows undertake support projects on behalf of the universities and consult with administrators and faculty members regarding university affairs. Some have assisted with writing grants for funding or opening up contacts in the US for exchanges and collaborations. All have assisted with translation of business correspondence, and preparing students for the International Student Conference. Lecturers uniformly assist students with scholarship applications and opportunities for studying abroad.
In 1995 CEP inaugurated a Teacher Training Program in the Czech Republic. The Jan Hus Educational Foundation later took over administration of the program with funding from the Higher Education Support Program (HESP) and renamed it "Novicius." It is now a cooperative effort of CEP and Jan Hus, with combined financial, administrative and human resources. Each year at CEP partner universities, Visiting Faculty Fellows and Local Faculty Fellows assist junior faculty and advanced graduate students in their pursuit of academic careers. The students work intensively for two semesters under the guidance of a mentor. For the third semester the students attend western universities. Certificates are awarded each fall to those who complete the training and several workshops.
"My Novicius training proved to be a complex and multifaceted experience, vital for my teaching since it has provided me with a multitude of invaluable suggestions. It has been a "concert" of various methodological approaches and student_centered activities serving as a fruitful inspiration for me. I am much obliged to ... the Civic Education Project, as well as the Jan Hus Educational Foundation. The worthwhile example, set by a CEP lecturer, of encouraging students' critical thinking, argument build_up, and analysis of the facts is being continued. The seeds Novicius sowed in Presov are beginning to sprout. I have learned not only how to satisfy students' curiosity about the field but also how to spur it." _ Ivana Takacova, Lecturer, Department of British and American Studies, Presov University, Former Novicius Participant, and 1999_00 Fulbright Scholar
One of the most effective Novicius programs has been at the Department of British and American studies at the University of Presov, where two former Novicius participants have begun to teach. One of these young lecturers, Patricia Langova, is currently an Local Faculty Fellow; the second, Ivana Takacova was awarded "the best applicant" by the Fulbright Commission for the 1999-2000 year.
In most CEP programs, the effectiveness of classroom work and outreach activities are enhanced by the pairing of two CEP Fellows in the same department. During the 1999-00 academic year in Slovakia the work of Visiting Faculty Fellow David Reichardt and Local Faculty Fellows Andrej Findor and Marek Rybar at Comenius University was typical of the effects that clustering has had on maximizing CEPs influence. While they did not work at the same department, they were the core Fellows organizing the Danube Regional Conference which was held in Bratislava.
Another example of the impact of Fellows working in clusters at one faculty is Palacky University and its Philosophical Faculty, where CEP cooperates with two departments: the History Department where two Local Faculty Fellows, Martin Elbel and Jan Stejskal, held posts, and Political Science and European Studies Department where Visiting Faculty Fellow Gaudenz Assenza and alumni Kevin Capuder (VL) and Dan Marek (ES) currently teach. All of them assisted each other by offering lectures at various academic and study programs for international students. All of them were extremely active instructors at the faculty.
Outreach Activities: National and Regional CEP projects
Other activities by CEP Fellows include work outside the classroom, the introduction of innovative teaching methods and classes, and publications.
Regional CEP projects:
Austria-Slovak-Czech Student Conference :
CEP International student conference
Student Conference of European Integration and International Security
Conference on History Krakow,
National CEP project:
Individual Outreach Activities David Reichardt
(Visiting Faculty Fellow, the Institute of International Relations and Approximation of Law in the Law Faculty, Comenius University) continued teaching one class using the Model UN approach. David also lectured at Academia Istropolitana Nova within the European Studies Program in Spring 2000, offered a course in the Fall semester in the Political Science Department, evaluated all fellows in Slovakia and was the coordinator of the Danube Regional Conference.
Visiting Faculty Fellow Thea Vinnicombe taught at The Faculty of Economics and Management, Slovak Agricultural University, Nitra and was co-organizer of the Honors seminar on Internationalisation. Two of her students were selected to participate in the International Student Conference.
Patricia Langova (Department of British and American Studies, Philosophical Faculty, Presov University) is the first former Novicius participant to become an Local Faculty Fellow and take over the majority of American Studies courses. Academic year 1999-2000 was a busy one for Patricia. She attended a number of conferences, where she gave presentations and reports, and was one of the organizers for the Danube Conference and the seminar on Academic Writing (held in Presov). She also coordinated the Human Rights panel at Martin Luther University in Wittenberg, Germany, took a three-month course on the European Union at Academia Istropolitana Nova in order to design a new course, and wrote a thesis on Placement of English Adverbials on Written and Spoken Discourse, in American historical texts.
Local Faculty Fellow Andrej Findor was on a preparation committee of the Regional Danube Conference. He worked mainly with students, and invited as a guest speaker a former finance minister to his class. Andrej also participated at the History conference in Krakow.
Local Faculty Fellow Marek Rybar (the Center for European Studies, Comenius University, in the Institute for Public Administration and the Society for Higher Learning) was on a preparation committee for the Regional Danube Conference and wrote two books. One is a textbook of comparative politics, the other one is a book that scrutinizes the period of the transition in the Slovak Republic. He was involved in several international research projects.. He has prepared three new courses for the next year.
Martin Elbel and Jan Stejskal belong to the core of teaching staff within a young, reform-minded department who have brought changes, new ideas and courses. Both participate in the Central European Studies Program for students from Nebraska University and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, where they coordinated academic and cultural programs for the students and were responsible for their field trips. Both participated in the Novicius Program as mentors of their younger colleagues. They also recruited for the Central European University (Medieval Studies and History departments) among the students of their department and organized the History Student Conference during the fall semester. Jan became coordinator of the first department conference in November 1999 and of the national conference in December 1999.
Martin was elected to an Academic Council of the Philosophical Faculty. Jan completely revised the syllabus of the seminars on Medieval Historiography, which is now planned for two semesters instead of one. He was given free rein to reform and change the courses he teaches. He has organized a project of historical source translations together with Professor Hrabová. The two received a small grant from their faculty in order to pay stipends to cooperating students. A database of sources will be installed on the web page of the department, which has been also prepared by Jan. Jan has received a Harvard post-doctoral fellowship to Villa I Tatti, Italy in Spring 2001.
Local Faculty Fellow Tomas Havlicek participated on international and departmental research projects, and prepared several lectures for Patricia Langovas course on Social Geography of the USA in May at the University of Presov.
Vit Smetana (Local Faculty Fellow, ) prepared a very demanding course on Cold War history. During the second seminar, students had to analyze diplomatic documents. He chaired one of the panels of the Danube regional Conference in Bratislava, in which one of his students participated. . Vit also worked on a research project at the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The final aim of this project is to publish an Encyclopedia of Czech history covering the period of 1938-1945. Vit is a co-editor of a historical journal Dejiny a Soucasnost.
For Visiting Faculty Fellow Andrew Lebman 1999-00 was his second year with CEP, during which time he prepared a team for two moot court competitions and mentored a PhD student under the Novicius program.
Gaudenz Assenza (Visiting Faculty Fellow DETAILS) was appointed an academic coordinator for the development of a new MA program in Public Administration, developed in cooperation with Valdosta State University in the US. Gaudenz inaugurated an internet project where the whole program will be accessed internationally. Besides that, he and his students organized a day long Model United Nations Conference for the class.
All CEP Fellows make donations of textbooks and teaching materials to their departments, universities, and libraries.
"The book donations program made an enormous difference in the quality of papers produced, classes taught and subjects discussed in our department...I can think of no more important contribution to a university than the enhancement of its information base."_Tom Murphy, Visiting Faculty Fellow Alumnus, Faculty of Arts, University of Presov, Slovakia
"Formerly as a student, and now as a lecturer, I have had a great opportunity to interact with CEP lecturers to gain the teaching, research, and language skills and experience that otherwise I would not have been able to get."__Dan Marek, (Local Faculty Fellow Alumnus) Lecturer and Ph.D. Student in Politics, Dept. of European Studies, Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic
Czechoslovak Society for Arts and Science (SVU) Congress 2000,
Slovakia is known for its mountain ranges. The High Tatras, part of the major Carpathian Mountains system, contain the country's highest peak and Slovakia's largest national parks. Southwestern Slovakia is dominated by a fertile lowland region that extends to the Danube River, which forms part of the country's border with Hungary. Slovakia's climate ranges from cold, dry winters to hot, humid summers.
Slovakia's 1993 constitution declares the country to be a parliamentary democracy with a president and a prime minister. The president is elected by parliament and is responsible for naming the prime minister to head the government. Slovakia's single chamber parliament has 150 members elected by popular vote.
Living and Working in Slovakia
In Bratislava one can find all essential consumer goods, but not in the variety found in the US. All manner of cultural activities - theater, opera, ballet, art galleries, films, discotheques, jazz, coffee houses, concerts etc. - are offered. According to one Visiting Faculty Fellow Alumnus, "people from Vienna buy tickets to the opera here because they are not expensive and the performances are good. Furthermore, there are many special cultural events. We, for example, went to a folk dancing exhibition in which some students from my class performed. It was excellent."
Presov is the fourth largest city in Slovakia, at about 90,000 _ 100,000 persons. It is 33 km from Kosice (40 minutes away), the second largest city in Slovakia, and within easy distance of Hungary, Ukraine or Poland. Train and bus travel within Slovakia is simple and cheap. Bratislava is 6 hours, Prague 9.5 hours.
All essential goods can be found in Presov. There are also several movie theaters, along with musical and stage performances. Students sometimes put on theatrical works as well. Presov is the home of a professional hockey and soccer team. A monthly guide is available detailing all events.
It is very useful to know some Slovak, though one can get by with rudimentary understanding. Slovaks greatly appreciate foreigners making an effort to learn their language. German, Russian and Ukrainian are widely spoken. Local tutors are the best bet for language training.
Nitra provided by Visiting Faculty Fellow Alumnus, Norbert Hohl Nitra has over 90,000 residents, but much of the business and commercial activity is concentrated in a few streets in the center and around the newly reconstructed pedestrian zone. It is located just where the Danubian plain ends and the hill country begins. It is smaller than Bratislava and Kosice in the east and just a bit smaller than Banska Bystrica in the center of the country. Nitra is an agricultural center with some industry, but most heavy industry is to the south or west. It is one of the less polluted towns, and is scenically laid out at the base of the Zobor, the landmark hill (585m) on its north side.
Everything is available in Nitra that you would expect to find in a town that size. Even a handful of English and German language newspapers and magazines have become available recently. Only language will make it harder than normal to find things. Small stores are constructed on the "server behind the counter" basis of the type still found in western Europe. It requires verbal or pointing communication to get things - but this is a good way to learn the language. Small stores include general grocery stores, called "potraviny," meat and sausage stores, bakeries, confectionaries, fruit and vegetable stands/shops. There is also an open air market or "trznica" in the large courtyard of the building on the southwest corner of the intersection of St'urovo and S'tefanikova streets.
Nitra is home to a large theater ("divadlo"), Andrea Bagara, on the main square north of the pedestrian zone. Performances mostly involve long running plays in Slovak, and sometimes Czech. Occasionally there are also ballets and other musical performances. The closest opera or music hall is in Bratislava, which offers high quality performances at very low prices. Each year in fall Nitra hosts a theater festival attracting international ensembles from countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Netherlands, France and the U.K.
Athletics is taken seriously by the Slovaks. Almost everything, including US football, exists. Most popular here seem to be volleyball, all forms of hockey, soccer, tennis and boxing. However, there is also basketball, handball, swimming, table tennis, baseball, etc.
Universities Hosting CEP Fellows
"I am proud to have been a part of the process of shaking up standard teaching methodologies, providing the impetus for alternative academic options, and delving into the complexities of cross cultural exchange in the classroom environment. I wouldn't trade it for anything -- in fact, I have learned far more from my students and colleagues that they ever could have hoped to learn from me." -_ Thomas Murphy, PhD, Visiting Faculty Fellow Alumnus, British and American Studies Program, Presov University