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Curriculum Research Fellowships
Research projects supported in 2006


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Magdalena Elchinova, Irena Bokova:
Curriculum Development: Anthropology in Bulgaria and Macedonia in the post-socialist period (1995-2005)
Mihaela-Cornelia Frunza, Theodora-Eliza Vacarescu, Roxana Havrici, Ioana Vacarescu:
Gender Studies Curriculum Development in Romania: Milestones, Achievements and Challenges (1995-2005)
Agota Andrea Szentannai, Andreea Mogos:
Changes in the Curricula of the Faculties of Social Sciences during their 15 years of existence in Romania
Elena Yarskaya-Smirnova:
The Dynamics of Social Work Curriculum Development in Russia, 1991-2006: national standards and the impact of international collaboration


Project title:

Curriculum Development: Anthropology in Bulgaria and Macedonia in the post-socialist period (1995-2005)

Research team:

Magdalena Elchinova (project leader) - Head of the Department of Anthropology at New Bulgarian University, Sofia
Irena Bokova, associate professor of cultural anthropology

Universities where research will be carried out:

New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria
'St. Kliment Ohridski' University, Sofia, Bulgaria
'Paisii Hilendarski' University, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Southwestern University, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
'St Cyril and Methodius' University, Skopje, Macedonia

Brief overview of the research project:

The research focuses on two countries where anthropology emerged as a new discipline in the second half of the 1990s, often closely related to ethnology. Anthropology curricula at various universities in Bulgaria developed as competing with, rather than as complementary to each other. As a result, no academic debate on the state of art of the discipline existed and the fragmentation of the discipline appeared as a major trend of its development in the country. At the same time, although anthropology is not very familiar to the wider public, the number of students has been gradually increasing in the last few years. All this calls for closer examination of the state of art of the discipline and the perspectives for its development, in order to make it more competitive at a national and international (regional) level.

The research proposes:

  1. To study the academic traditions of anthropology (and ethnology) in the two countries at focus;
  2. To study the diversity of ways the discipline appeared and developed in different universities in the two countries, by comparing the existing BA and MA curricula and their earlier versions at 5 different universities (4 in Bulgaria and 1 in Macedonia);
  3. To suggest an insight on the strategies of building these new curricula with the influence of external experience and with the search of own (internal) profile and specialisations (a comparative perspective will be provided, including examples from anthropology curricula across Eastern Europe, as well as in some West European and U.S. universities (particularly those that have been taken as models for elaborating the curricula);
  4. To examine the quality, scope, teaching methods and educational objectives with special reference to the cross-disciplinarity in curriculum building and how these curricula reflect the new trends in the discipline;
  5. By comparing the developments in Bulgaria and Macedonia, to provide understanding of the future perspectives of anthropology in the Balkans and East-European region, including possibilities for academic exchange and development of joint-degrees.

Expected results:

The research results will be presented in a detailed analytical report. A multimedia CD representation of the major research results will be also prepared. It is expected that the project would contribute to:

  • The understanding of the trends of development of academic anthropology in Bulgaria and Macedonia, and, broader, in the post-socialist European countries
  • Provoking a systematic engaged discussion on the state of art of the discipline, as well as outlining perspectives for development, cooperation, better marketing effect
  • Initiate concrete changes in existing curricula in order to make them coherent with internationally recognized standards in the discipline.

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Project:

Gender Studies Curriculum Development in Romania: Milestones, Achievements and Challenges (1995-2005)

Research team:

Mihaela-Cornelia Frunza (project leader) - Lecturer at the Department of Systematic Philosophy, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj
Theodora-Eliza Vacarescu, Assistant Lecturer, Ph.D. student, University of Bucharest
Roxana Havrici, Teaching Assistant, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, Babes-Bolyai University
Ioana Vacarescu, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bucharest

Universities where research will be carried out:

  • Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of European Studies, Center for Gender Studies, Cluj, Romania
  • National School of Political Studies and Administration, Bucharest, Romania
  • University of the West, Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies, Timisoara, Romania

Brief overview of the research project:

It has been more than a decade since the first courses in Gender Studies started to be taught at Romanian universities at the undergraduate level. Also, three postgraduate programs have been established in major academic centers and a few prestigious Romanian publishing houses started book series in the field. It is by now clear that a certain process of institutionalization of the discipline started to take place. But there are no comprehensive researches on this issue that would show the diachronic development of the field, as well as the state of the arts synchronically. The aim of the project is to:

  • Research the reasons and context of the introduction of Gender Studies in Romanian universities at the undergraduate and postgraduate level;
  • Research the development of the curriculum in Gender Studies in the three Romanian universities that developed programs in this field;
  • Research the resources used and produced by the programs and courses in Gender Studies;
  • Inquire into the reasons students pursue this line of study, their hopes, accomplishments and career opportunities (both academic and professional).

Preliminary research questions and topics:

  • How have Gender Studies been introduced to each university and what was the "window of opportunity" for them?
  • Who were the initiators of the programs, what were their intentions and how much of these desiderata they have accomplished so far?
  • Who were the people that taught during the first years and how did they join the field?
  • What types of resources were accessed and used in order to develop the field?
  • How have the curricula changed/ developed?
  • What are the results of these programs, in terms of books, projects, journals etc.?
  • Who were/ are the students enrolled in these programs?
  • What is the career path of the graduates of these programs?
  • The relationship between teaching and research in Gender Studies.
  • The relationship between academia and civil society in Gender Studies: Is the academia in contact with the NGO world? Who are the academics in Gender Studies and who are the NGO activists? How do the two spheres interact?
  • The relationship between the three university centers in Gender Studies: Are the three academic centers in contact? What kind of collaboration is there?
  • The role of other academic programs in Gender Studies from the CEE region (e.g. CEU).

Expected results of research project:

The result of this research will be an extended study (40-50 pages) that is to be published on CRC website. Shorter versions of the study (15-20 pages) are going to be prepared for international journals. A version of the study, translated into Romanian, may appear as well in a Romanian journal such as AnAlize or Gender Studies, or in JSRI (Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies). A presentation of the research will be organized in Cluj, at the Seminar for the Interdisciplinary Research of Religions and Ideologies (SCIRI), Dept. of Systematic Philosophy, Babes-Bolyai University, and at the Institute for Gender Studies.

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Project title:

Changes in the Curricula of the Faculties of Social Sciences during their 15 years of existence in Romania. A comparative study between the Departments of Political Science, Journalism, Public Administration and Communication of Babes-Bolyai University and West University of Timisoara

Research team:

Agota Andrea Szentannai, Assistant Professor , Faculty of Political Science, Public Administration and Communication, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania
Andreea Mogos, Assistant Professor , Faculty of Political Science, Public Administration and Communication, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania

Universities where research will be carried out:

Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania
West University of Timisoara. Romania

Brief overview of the research project:

As higher education faced new challenges in the last decade throughout Europe, universities are going through a quick change that affects also the curriculum. Some of the main reasons for this are:

  • Requirements imposed by the Bologna process
  • Crystallization of disciplines as new programs at universities in Romania
  • Marketization of higher education, emerging new roles for universities, economic pressures from the government
  • External pressures toward more efficient teaching and competitive teaching programs even at international levels.

Due to these multiple reasons, changes in curricula occurred yearly and had to be applied quickly. The aim of this research is to describe and to understand the process(es) of change that the study programs had to face; to detect the connections among the different levels of change, to understand the difficulties arising from the adaptation of the formal curricula to the actual teaching process that is taking place in the classrooms.

We expect that the changing process is much more intensive in the newly established social science disciplines - e.g. political science, communication studies, etc. - which have undergone a continuing and complex process of legitimization both in the academic community and the society itself. This research targets four academic departments in two different universities in Romania. The departments were all established in the early nineties. By choosing the departments of Political Science, Journalism, Public Administration and Communication Studies the research will grasp the quick changes inside some of the disciplines. These study programs did not have time to consolidate properly before the quite dramatic changes occurring in higher education of today.

Expected results:

The very first product resulting from the research is expected to be a presentation of the empirical data and its analysis. This will consist of a case-study like presentation of the curricula by study programs, and the description of the process they had been constructed. The case studies will be a valuable resource for further analysis.

Another type of product will be an academic paper - intended for publication - which will compare the case studies and will place the results in a wider theoretical context.

A third type of paper will be a short policy document about curriculum design, presenting the conclusions drawn from the case studies and using research data as illustrations.

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Project title:

The Dynamics of Social Work Curriculum Development in Russia, 1991-2006: national standards and the impact of international collaboration

Researcher:

Elena Yarskaya-Smirnova, Head of the Department of Social Anthropology and Social Work at Saratov State Technical University

Universities where research will be carried out:

Saratov State Technical University
Volgograd State Pedagogical University
Ural State University at Ekaterinburg
Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences
Nizhni Novgorod State University
Russian State Social University or Moscow University for Humanities
Tomsk State University or Novosibirsk State University
StPetersburg State University
Samara State University
Kuban State University at Krasnodar

Brief overview of the research project:

The introduction of social work as a new academic discipline in Russia in 1991, in a period of significant political, economical and cultural changes, was considered as an inevitable component of the formation of democracy and welfare state and coincided with the restructuring of social sciences and humanities in Russian universities.

In building new curricula for social work education and training departments employ strategies of importing externally developed curricula but adjusting them at university level and according to the local needs. In addition, the curricula, structure of programs and modes of teaching in social work in many cases have been developing under the conditions of intensive national and international exchange of scholars. This research proposes:

  • to study the effects of the investments made by international donors into the development of social work education in Russia, including the endeavors by the JEP of TEMPUS/Tacis (StPetersburg, Izhevsk, Saratov, Volgograd, Astrakhan, etc.), Inter-University Partnership of USAID, HESP projects (Rostov-na-Donu, Moscow, Saratov, etc.), British council programs (Ekaterinburg, etc.), Fulbright and Soros fellowships for guest lecturers in social work, as well as IMF loans provided through National Training foundation (Nizhni Novgorod State University, StPetersburg State University, North-West Academy of Public Services at StPetersburg), Ford Foundation sponsored programs of further qualification, a number of international research projects conducted on the base of social work departments.
  • to analyze the regional and cross-university differences in curricula,
  • to explore how social work teachers and administrators of the schools justify changes in their curricula and modes of teaching
  • to analyze the content of the textbooks in relation to the priorities articulated by the supra-national non-governmental bodies and the Bologna declaration,
  • to study the opinion of teachers concerning the changes affected by international cooperation

Expected results:

The results of the comparison of curricula in the dynamics of their changes, as well as of textbook analysis and case studies will be disseminated through a workshop for social work teachers, where presentation and discussion of the results will take place; a paper in an academic peer-reviewed journal; an electronic report on the CRC website.

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