Summer Institute Bridges Worlds in Times of Crisis

July 03, 2024
Summer Institute Bridges Worlds in Times of Crisis

The Summer Institute for the Study of East Central and Southeastern Europe (SISECSE) gathered international scholars for a two-week residency on the AUBG campus in June. Coming from various universities in Eastern Europe and North America, they had the opportunity to work on and discuss “Humanities and Interpretive Social Sciences in a Time of Emergency, or Thinking Urgently”.

The workshop, organized by the American Council of Learned Societies in partnership with the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (CAS), offers an open space for people to share their research on the topic at hand, generate ideas and gather viewpoints from different fields of study through fruitful dialogue.

“The atmosphere is casual and friendly, and for these past two weeks people created friendships, they had the chance to talk about their interests freely and without any sort of censorship,” said CAS Director Diana Mishkova. “We create communities, a network of communities, to be exact. I was proven that this group of people continues to stay connected [beyond the program], to collaborate on projects and organize events, and I hope this network will keep widening its scope.”

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The summer institute encourages an idea-driven environment where participants can explore global pressing questions, related to the importance of the humanities in times of crisis. It builds a bridge between two differing parts of the world and allows for a collective thought exchange towards tangible solutions, which proves to be especially relevant in today’s conflict-ridden world.

AUBG Professor Emerita Evelina Kelbetcheva initiated the partnership between the university and CAS after her fellowship in the center back in 2014. The SISECSE program started in 2023 and was organized this summer for a second year in a row. Professor Kelbetcheva shared her appreciation for the care and effort everyone put into organizing the event. “The takeaways so far are all very positive not only when it comes to the facilities but also for the engagement of the whole AUBG staff,” she said.

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Piotr Kuligowski, a researcher at the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, enjoyed learning more about the current research about Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. “That was great to learn, what others do in the field and also a good place to foster camaraderie, meet great people and spend good time here,” he said.

Tomasz Grusiecki came from Boise State University in Idaho and appreciated meeting like-minded people focused on East Central and Southeastern Europe. “It’s all about building connections and listening to people who might be struggling with similar issues and, you know, the kind of experience of being marginalized in American and Western European academia,” he said.