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Through the lens of Transition

Series of online talks
Through the lens of Transition – How the corona pandemic brings back images of the time of transition
In this series of talks, organized in the context of the Transition Dialogue project,we are going to gather impressions from different countries on issues that bring back images of the transition period. The series will be organized over the course of the next few weeks.

Education, Interrupted

25 June 2020

Education in the time of COVID-19: a system successfully running for 200 years that has suddenly had its fundamental foundations shaken. Schools, universities and other learning institutions that rely on in-person presence and interaction to fulfill their purposes have had to close their real-life doors and open their virtual windows, following the move online of all procedures and learning processes – for which, in many cases, neither students nor teachers were fully equipped. This leads not only to interruptions in both teaching and curricula, but to a magnification of social inequalities, and leaves at risk many pupils and students who suffer from poverty and domestic violence. Crucially, the students of these institutions are now confronted by new questions and anxieties about the world around them, ones to which their schools are now unable to provide an answer.
30 years ago, students and teachers faced another kind of transformation throughout Eastern Europe. Schools and universities that had been under one system were suddenly jolted into another. Whilst the teachers, the textbooks and the buildings often stayed the same, everything else was changing rapidly around them.
These two time periods, though a generation apart, share the fact that gaps have been punched into many of their young people’s scholastic and future careers, and that their teachers are the ones supposed to provide guidance when they themselves are also subject to overwhelming change.
What are the long-term consequences of these educational gaps and what do teachers and practitioners of education need in order to guide their students through them? What will our schools and universities look like after the pandemic? And how will the quality and content of education change in the process?
Speakers for the session:
  • Caroline Hornstein-Tomic (DE/HRO): Research Advisor at the Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Co-Founder and Chair of the Management of the Zagreb-based foundation “Wissen am Werk / Znanje na djelu”
  • Alicja Pacewicz (PL): Economist, social and educational activist, Co-Founder of Center for Citizenship Education and School with Class Foundation, working in the area of quality education, civic engagement and school reform. Expert of the Polish Ministry of National Education and the Central Examination Board
  • Veronika Ludwig (DE): Teacher for history and civic education in Berlin, Germany

Transformation of Public Space

12 June 2020

Public spaces serve as indicators of a country’s political situation. Are we safe there? What is allowed in public? Under socialism, the state dominated and controlled public space, and it ensured that one could not even perceive a public space without being confronted with symbols of the state’s power. With the fall of socialism, the status of these public spaces became uncertain as the former symbols of power became meaningless. How does this affect our perceptions of those spaces, then and now? How does the state of public space affect democracy and the ability to demonstrate one’s political views openly and freely?
The speakers for this session were:
  • Andrei Zavadski (RU/DE): Researcher and communications scientist
  • Zhenya Kulyeba (UA): Urban activist, NGO “Misto Sad / Garden City”
  • Gruia Badescu (ROU/DE): Urbanist, Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the University of Konstanz
Watch the full conversation here.

The Virus in our Economies

28 May 2020

In the second session we looked at economies and discussed these and other related questions:  Are the 90s coming back? Are we going to experience a new “time of transition” with empty shelves in the supermarkets and empty pockets for workers?
The discussants:
  • Victor Guzun: Teacher, former politician and diplomat. Formerly Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to Estonia
  • Vedrana Pribičević: Economist and lecturer at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management
  • Asta Ranonyte: Open Lithuania Foundation, Head of Examination Department at the National Examination Centre of Lithuania
You can watch the talk here.

Closed Borders, then and now

14 May 2020

Europe is closing its borders again, 30 years after they were finally opened. Borders being closed is a well-known part of the past, actively used by many countries, especially during the Cold War. New challenges to democracy have appeared in our lives that remind us of the times of the Soviet Union and the communist regimes in Europe. What lessons have we learned from that period of closed borders and what walls are we building up now? What consequences will the situation with closed borders and delayed mobility of EU-citizens and EU guests have on our future? How will it affect the refugee crisis on Europe’s doorstep? Will it mean closing our societies for longer periods of time, and will it give authoritarian regimes the power to use the situation to “close down for good?” Or will it provide us with new opportunities for development, especially in education and culture? How does it change civil society?
The topic was discussed with the following speakers:
  • Momchil Metodiev: Editor-in-chief of the Christianity and Culture Journal and Research Fellow in the Institute for Studies of the Recent Past, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Alexander Morozov: Political scientist, publicist, and co-director of the Boris Nemtsov Academic Centre for the Study of Russia in Prague. Previously editor-in-chief of the “Russian Journal” and has written for slon.ru, Colta.ru, Forbes.ru, Vedomosti, Gefter.ru and other Russian media
  • Alicja Pacewicz: Economist, social and educational activist, co-founder of the Center for Citizenship Education in Warsaw. Expert of the Polish Ministry of National Education and the Central Examination Board
“My hypothesis is that the currently closed borders will become some sort of a game changer with regard to both, a greater reliance on EU institutions by Eastern European countries and in the protection of EU borders towards non-EU countries”. – Momchil Metodiev, Bulgaria. You can watch the full conversation here!
You can watch the full talks on Transition Dialogue’s page. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more updates!
The event is hosted by DRA – Deutsch-Russischer Austausch e.V. and Sofia Platform Foundation with the participation of our colleague Momchil Metodiev and is part of the Transition Dialogue project.
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