A Transdisciplinary Education Network for Sustainable Development and Civic Participation, established by the Shtastlivetsa Sofia Civic Association and its partners.
Travelling University ‘Place for Future’ 2017 in Western Stara Planina and Chiprovtsi
(20 – 25 May 2017)
2. Interdisciplinary International Travelling University:
VIDEO DIARY from the Student Work in Teams HERE:
The Whole VIDEO DIARY of The Travelling University 2016 is COMING very SOON!
Travelling University 2016
Photos of the event young Jim and I attended last summer, which is a collection of scholars and students from mainly Sofia HE Institutions, who form the Shtastlivetsa Civic Association.
It’s interdisciplinary and incorporates a wide range of subjects and fields from sociology, anthropology, ecology, archelogogy, philosophy, English, public admin and so on.
There were professors and participants came as far from France, Germany, Greece, Serbia and even myself and my student Jim from institutions in South Korea (even though we are from Scotland and China).
Nonetheless, the international mix worked well, I certainly had no difficult understanding anyone, Jim got an opportunity to study with other students whose 1st language was not English either, which all culminated in a group presentation on an objective task. It was very much a ‘classroom without walls’ there was not too much authority, the students thrived in the such conditions of trust, and demonstrated that they not only had the enthusiasm to deliver to task, but also good presentation skills and ideas to carry it all off at the end.
For Jim it was a chance to use some English and some of the skills he had learned as an undergraduate, to deliver an idea or information in second language, based on his own and the views of his group members. While for me it was interesting observation into the exploration of alternative pedagogical approaches beyond the confines of a classroom to see how students behave and perform under certain conditions where there are no grades at stake or some authority figure bending and shaping or dictating what should be done and how it should be done.
The result was a very intersting experience not just doing school like work out in the field, but learning a lot of aspects into the life of the people who lived there, the skills and crafts they had, their personality, outlook, their pride in themselves and their lifes, their hopes, fears and so on. It was also something that you not only look or listen to, but you taste, feel and smell (it is the countryside after all…and all 5 senses work outside the class, not the just the basic primary ones….feeling grass between your feet, tasting homemade country foods, smelling the mountain morning mist, feeling the sun….and lots of stuff.
So, I definitely gave the ‘Traveling University’ an A+ . In fact ithe whole notion of a non-static education to me, is a complete no brainer, what’s more important is that the youth (and old timers like me) better get their skates on and learn a lot of things they don’t teach practically in universities otherwise they’ll be gone, they’ll just crumble and die…and that would be a tremendous loss to humanity really.
It’s the old Joni Mitchell thing….”you don’t know what you got till it’s gone”
Kids need to learn this knowledge (and skills if they can), like where food comes from and how things are made…and the importance of ecology to a sustainable life.
I’m a bit sad, my new job will mean I won’t have time this year to go to this years event, but I will certainly keep in touch and hopefully do more research on alternative and experiential learning approaches (as students get a lot out of it, I’ve found).
For eight years now, Shtastlivetsa Association has organized interdisciplinary summer schools, lectures, seminars, student practices and internships, debates, and artistic happenings—all dedicated to the new paradigm of Sustainable Development. Some of our topics have brought together ecohumanism, new science, alternative culture and education, innovative forms of democracy and civic participation, ecology and environment quality. We have been weaving, like a Chiprovtsi carpet, the Place for Future education network, a community drawing its inspiration from a young tradition: the International Travelling University in the Municipality of Chiprovtsi and the region of Western Stara Planina in Bulgaria. Our aim and passion is promoting cooperative culture and sustainable living. This means providing information and inspiration but also knowledge and reflection for those seeking a community, forming communities, struggling with the challenges of the new communal shapes, or wishing to develop a greater sense of community in their workplace or the various environments in which they live and communicate.
The topic of our next Traveling University is:
The need for communal belonging and sharing, however, often conflicts with the isolation and alienation stemming from the hyper inpidualization of our communities. The increasing geographical, economic and cultural mobility brought along by globalization processes has created further challenges to preserving established communities. There emerge communities developing new kinds of ‘common life.’ Some of them categorically break with tradition, others categorically return to it, still others rediscover it, attempt to modernize it and hand it down to future generations.
The ‘New Communities in Europe: Between Past and Future’ Traveling University invites us to reflect on the present and evolution of living in communities. Participants will get introduced to specific local examples of new and traditional communities in Northwestern Bulgaria. These communities have the advantage of being examined in their natural environment. In parallel, participants will learn about other such communities in Europe and around the world, based on the principle of intentional communities: ecovillages, cohousing,residential land trusts, income-sharing communes student co-ops, spiritual communities, and other projects where people live together on the basis of explicit common values. Still more examples will be drawn from some of the newest types of communal life in Bulgaria: from social networks such as the Food Co-op and Bg-Mamma movements, to civic groups and environmental protection networks such as the For the Nature Coalition and the Save Irakli civic group, to the new forms of ‘informal formal’ association such as our own Place for Future education network. We will talk about new and traditional communities but we’ll also try to live in a community, even if for a short period. Each day of the Traveling University will include:
- in the mornings, presentations and discussions of various types of communities;
- in the afternoons, workshops aimed at group (‘community’) interaction among the participants;
- introduction to local traditional and innovative types of communal life.
We will focus on several topics related to coexistence and decision-making in a community:
- Leadership decisions and majority rule
- Innovative forms of decision-making (deliberation, democracy of consensus, etc.)
- Dealing with power imbalances
- Finding your role in a community
- Integrating new members
For more information about our next and previous Traveling Universities, please see the following links:
More about the region West Stara Planina
What is ‘Place for Future‘?
The PLACE FOR FUTURE network is a broad alliance for informal and alternative education. Our priority over the recent years has been the introduction of sustainable development education and good practices into Bulgarian curricula; and bringing together Bulgarian academic circles with genuine civic initiatives and good practices of civil participation.
Learn more by Content : here:
- New Bulgarian University, Sofia
- Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
- Institute of Archaeology with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
- La Maison des sciences de l’Homme, Dijon
- Georges Chevrier Centre at the University of Burgundy
- Institute of Sociological Studies at Pierre Mendes-France University, Grenoble
- University Montesquieu – Bordeaux IV
- Institute of European Studies at Jagiellon University, Kracov
- Institute of European Studies at Matej Bel University, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia
- European Association for the Protection of Human Rights
- For the Nature Coalition
- WWF – Bulgaria
- Chiprovtsi Municipality
- Chiprovtsi, Alternative and Development (CHAR) Association
- Chiprovtsi History Museum
READING FOR THE MONTH:Radosveta Krastanova: My Place for a Future We wish to make the island of public community a significant archipelago. *
Shtastlivetsa’s ‘trademark’ are travelling universities. Traditionally, we have organized them in Western Stara Planina since 2009, on the principle of interdisciplinary education through field demonstrations and practice.
‘The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were!’
John F. Kennedy
More of our Initiatives:
(in Bulgarian) 2014
Project of Peter Valchovski
with the support of SHTASTLIVETSA Association
Together with ‘Zelenika’ foundation, 2014 – 2015
You can make a donation to our Education Network here.
Under Construction Placeforfuture.org site is still under reconstruction. We apologize to our visitors.
We invite you to join our campaign
PLACE FOR FUTURE
What is it?
A university campaign for sustainable development and civil participation carried out by the Shtastlivetsa Sofia Civil Association and its partners.
What are we going to do?
Place for Future is an opportunity to combine new and different approaches, enjoyment and care for the environment with education, meeting new people, organizing workshops, open-air concerts, seminars, discussions, round tables, and informal learning from the personal example set by the members of the project.
We were brought together by our caring for the future of our favourite spots, in nature and the city alike.
Be one of us!
Who are we?
Young and committed, responsible and cheerful, ambitious and daring – an inspired team of friends and like-minded folks, still learning from one another and enjoying our work – because we plan, reflect, party, participate, create, give our best, offer solutions for the type of development that does have a future.
Who else takes part?
You are the future. You are concerned about the fate of Irakli, Sinemorets, the Knyazhevo Woods, Strandja and all the other heavenly, still virginal places around Bulgaria… and not only.
You sympathize with those citizens who not only protect Bulgarian nature and cultural heritage, but also set an example of honourable human and civil conduct.
You are an inquiring, seeking and active person, interested in the world around and helping change it for the better.
You believe it’s important to know your civil rights and learn how to uphold them.
You understand the benefits of civil activity and wish to get involved with a project, idea or event of your own.
You wish to find out more about the people who struggle to help the Rhodope Mountains, Vitosha, the Russian Church in Sofia, the Bulgaria Grand Hotel survive… Who organize tourism that fits in with the environment. Who stand up for their rights not just for themselves, but for the whole of their community. Who offer sustainable ways of development. Who are not afraid to be different, because their difference builds upon principles and values. Who see a point in being concerned about their fellow beings and draw satisfaction from deeds whose fruits will be gathered by the generations after them.
Who are invisible today – but shall be talked about tomorrow. Who think and act now, so that we human beings will be around also in the future.
You are a student, lecturer, university administrator…
You’re familiar with interesting and active people and initiatives which may enrich our understanding of the social world.
You have professional and civil experience that you’d like to share with colleagues and new friends.
You have ideas that you want to see come true: make a movie or clip, write an essay or article, plan and conduct a survey, organize a meeting or debate…
You wish to find others like you.
Look for us here (http://placeforfuture.org) or email us at place.for.future -at- gmail.com!
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….The Place for Future campaign evolved as a continuation of the eponymous project, which was carried out with the financial assistance of the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe, CEE Trust. Evaluation of the first year of PLACE FOR FUTURE by Hermina EMIRYAN
The project in itself is unique – the combination of the activities and the aim to bring together institutions that have a very different approach and background, putting together a team of diverse professionals etc. This uniqueness has proved to be a challenge but also the added value of this project. The initiative has developed and widened a network of NGOs, academia and students who work on environmental issues and share the sustainable development values and philosophy;
Goals and objectives
– The success of this project lies in the shared vision and goals – everyone involved in the project no matter of their background has a mutual understanding of the problems, the goals and the priorities. This joint understanding is the main solution to all of the challenges the team faced during the project.
Project team and partnerships
– A strong element of the project is the team. These are professionals in different fields (ecologist, architect, philosopher, political scientist, cultural scientist etc.) and the different points of view and experiences enrich the communication and the implementation of the project.
There are a few strong points that I would like to put the attention to.
First, it’s a new organization and the energy of a newly established entity is very much there.
Secondly, being a new organization the team has a new vision, fresh take on the issues, different approach. They experiment, try new things and get less discouraged compared to their colleagues who are in the field for the past decade (this was also recognized by their slightly more experienced fellow NGO colleagues).
Third – there is a very strong transfer of skills component in the team. The core team is open to learn new things and consult with older organizations on one side. On the other side the team manages to attract new people into the organization and train them in a way that at the end of the day they can delegate activities and responsibilities to these new team members.
Only within the one year of the project there are several new members of the Association and several new team members. Not only that – the organization is very transparent and open – they share theirs experience with the fellow NGO colleagues. Of course as a new team with such diverse backgrounds there has been a period of adaptation and team building for the people working on the project… (…)
Sustainable development and civil participation are not only key priorities for the future of the European Union. They are also key projects for the future of us all. PLACE FOR FUTURE presents real examples of civil participation and good practices of sustainable development in an academic environment. A key word of the project is interaction. Introducing a wide public debate into universities, the project provides opportunities for interaction between active members of civil society and the academic community. PLACE FOR FUTURE integrates the issues of real civil participation into students’ education as part of the project for sustainable development of our society. University environment is the natural place for visions and innovative projects for the future to be born. University education is meant to create an intellectual elite – competent specialists with active stances on civil issues. PLACE FOR FUTURE contributes to this goal. The project combines two aspects. First, by organizing various events in an academic environment, we support active civil initiatives. And second, in this way PLACE FOR FUTURE incorporates innovative forms of training into higher education. The students acquire knowledge and experience not only for the theoretical but also for the practical aspect of civil participation, as a basic element of sustainable development. The two aspects of the PLACE FOR FUTURE project determine the two target groups: the university community and the spontaneous civil initiatives dealing with concrete issues. Some of the actors in these two sectors actually span both of them. These two aspects also determine the innovative and interdisciplinary nature of the project. The PLACE FOR FUTURE project integrates the practical dimensions of civil participation and sustainable development into university education. It introduces relevant issues and trends into specific courses and subjects, by carrying out cаse studies, writing reports and diploma theses, and participation in practices and internships in the non-governmental sector, team project work, summer field work and traveling seminars. The involvement of our academic partners gives civil initiatives the opportunity to get specific expert and professional help. On the other side, the experience of civil initiatives enriches university education with concrete good practices and topics for educational activities. The unique Resource Fund of the PLACE FOR FUTURE project allows original student and civil initiatives to be realized. The wide public debate in an academic environment is carried out by the team and partners of PLACE FOR FUTURE through a series of thematic and conceptually related events – seminars, discussions, round-table talks, experience exchange meetings, exhibitions, ateliers, projections, press conferences. The partnering departments, faculties and non-governmental organizations provide expert, logistic, and administrative assistance for the realization of the project’s aims.
Place for Future account in youtube
Our main academic partners:
Our main civic partners:
PLACE FOR FUTURE
is a new type of project, because it • establishes strong links among different social circles – civil initiatives, non-governmental organizations, the academic sphere; • and gives specific examples of how sustainable thinking can turn into sustainable action, also providing practical hands-on trainings for the students, which determines the interdisciplinary collaborative work of faculties, centers and universities, bringing together a wide range of subjects and fields, because we are positive that only in dialog and active interaction between us, there can be real sustainable development. Objectives
- Informing the academic milieu of the existing civil initiatives for environmental conservation and sustainable development
- Students’ and professors’ commitment to support these civil initiatives
- Creating an academic space for ideas and experience sharing and exchange
- Encouraging and stimulating the network of already existing active university and inter-university student groups or initiatives tackling with various current environmental protection and sustainable development issues
- Improving civil initiatives’ capacity via sharing effective practices and expert support by professors and NGO experts
- Integration of the core Project’s sustainable development concepts and practices into the students’ curricula and professors’ schedules as internships and traineeships
Activities aimed at informing and presenting the core concepts, ideas and activities of the Project 1. Carrying out information meetings, lectures, presentations, video screenings in various Departments and Universities aimed at familiarizing the academic environment with the civil initiatives and the issues that triggered them
- (1) Could we Save Bulgaria’s Nature? – Debate with the participation of For the Nature Coalition and representatives of partnering Departments at New Bulgarian University /October 23, 2008, New Bulgarian University, hall 409, Building 1/
- (2) Nature With no Borders – discussion with David Morand, head of France – Rila Association /October 28, 2008, New Bulgarian University, Small Aula/
- (3) Оfficial presentation of Place for Future Project /aims, core concepts, activities, team members, Project’s partners; screening of a short documentary about the project created and directed by NBU students /October 30, 2008, New Bulgarian University, hall 409, Building 1/
- (10) My Vitosha – seminar-discussion about Vitosha Nature Park with the participation of partnering NGOs /Katerina Rakovska /WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme/, Aleksander Dunchev /Association of Bulgarian Parks/, Nadezhda Maksimova /For the Nature Coalition/, University Club for Ecology and Sustainable Development in Sofia University UNECO and Place for Future students/ /December 11, 2008, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Rector’s Office, Auditorium 65/
2. Information dissemination via mailing lists and information bulletins on the Place for Future web-site (the Universities campaign), the For the Nature web-site, Bluelink – see the Project’s web-site, Project’s forum, the NBU forum, the For the Nature Coalition site, Bluelink; information about all project events has been disseminated via several mailing lists with a current total of ca. 500 inpidual subscribers and ca. 700 media contacts; two brochures published /aimed at students and professors/; radio interviews, broadcasts on TV channels Activities aimed at involving the academic milieu 3. Discussions of various hot issues and topics organized by the students and professors themselves with the participation of representatives of NGOs and civil initiatives. Both students and professors launch and implement actions supported and coordinated by the relevant University coordinator.
- a Place for Future short documentary directed and produced by NBU students Elena Koleva and Grigor Atanasov from the Cinema, Advertisement and Show Business Department at NBU; screened at the Official presentation of Place for Future Project /October 30, 2008, New Bulgarian University/
- involvement of NBU’s Student Council in organizing and logistically supporting Bulgaria – a Country with no Future or а Place for Future photo exhibition (see pt. 6 below)
- (8) Water – screening of The Great Secret of Water, followed by a lecture by Prof. Vassil Simeonov /Sofia University/, a screening of the Place for Future documentary and a discussion /November 05, 2008, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridsky, Rector’s Office, Auditorium 65/ – organized in collaboration with the University Club for Ecology and Sustainable Development in Sofia University UNECO
- (11) A public discussion of problems, the current state of and future plans for urban development of the Student Campus area Studentski grad, organised by a students’ intiative committee, including the Association for Development and Public Control of Student Hostels and Canteens SROKSOS and other students NGOs, supported by Place for Future; attended by the Vice-minister of Health Stoyan Stoyanov /December 16, 2008, Seminar Hall of American University, Student Campus area Studentski grad, Sofia/
- (12) Water 2 – screening of The Great Secret of Water ІІ, presentations by students and discussion of the issues of water resources and supply in Bulgaria – organized by the University Club for Ecology and Sustainable Development in Sofia University UNECO and supported by Place for Future /December 17, 2008, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridsky, Rector’s Office, Auditorium 65/
- (14) Culture of the Future – Projects and Practices for Sustainable Development – a BA course at Sofia University, Department of Culture’s Theory and History /Thursdays, 1.15 – 3.00 p.m., Department of Culture’s Theory and History, Block 1, hall 410; director and lecturer of the Course: Petar Kanev, PhD in Philosophy/
- (15) Non-governmental Organizations and Management – a module within Comparative Politics and International Affairs MA Programme at the Political Science Department, NBU /Thursdays, 6.00 – 7.30 p.m., hall 602, Building 2, NBU; director and lecturer of the Module: Ass. Prof. Radosveta Krestanova/
- (16) European Projects – a module within the Comparative Politics and International Affairs MA Programme at Political Science Department, NBU /Thursdays, in various institutions and organizations involved in the implementation of EU Operational Programs’ projects; director and lecturer of the Module: ass. Prof. Radosveta Krestanova/
Activities aimed at creating a space for sharing and exchange of ideas and experience 4. Organization and carrying out of inter-departmental and interdisciplinary thematic meetings, seminars and discussions on current hot issues
- (5) Youth in the Green Movement – seminar with the participation of Project team members and students from partnering Departments at NBU – Mass Communications, Economics and Business Administration and Political Science Departments /October 11, 2008, NBU, Building 1, hall 409/
- (6) The BIG Little Choices – lecture by Kalin Nenov and Architect Martin Mikush and discussion with students from various departments at NBU /November 12, 2008, NBU, hall 214, Building 1/
- (7) The BIG Little Compost – a workshop demonstrating the construction of a compost container by NBU students; organised and supervised by Martin Mikush, Yuliana Nascova and Kalin Nenov /November 14, 2008, back yard of NBU/
- (9) Planting trees at the Dragoman Marsh, with the participation of students involved in Place for Future; organised and supervised by Georgi Stefanov and partnering NGOs – Balkani Wildlife Society and The Centre for Environmental Information and Education /December 06, 2008, Dragoman/
- (13) Sofia – a City for People – a round table about civil participation in the Sofia Municipality Council and topical problems of Sofia, with the participation of representatives of civil initiatives related to various urban issues /December 18, 2008, NBU, Building 1, hall 409/
5. Creation of A Place for Future web-site integrated into the www.forthenature.org web platform, along with an information bulletin and forum with two sections: 1) an academic virtual space for ideas and experience sharing and exchange; 2) a platform for referring citizens to NGO counseling experts and academic specialists; both forums are administered by students themselves – see Project’s web-site, esp. the Diary category, and the integrated Place for Future module on www.forthenature.org; see subforum Information, Knowledge, Wisdom at the Project’s forum 6. Organizing and promoting three mobile exhibitions in Universities
- (4) Bulgaria – a Country with no Future or a Place for Future photo exhibition, in collaboration with NBU’s Student Council /October 30-November 7, 2008, Small Aula, NBU/
Activities aimed at encouraging the already existing students initiatives network 7. Supporting civil and students’ initiatives and actions, incl. students’ workshops (atelies) in partnering Organizations (Universities and NGOs) – see Water and Water 2 in pt. 3 8. Encouraging of timely and effective students’ actions supporting the civil initiatives via funds from a designated Emergency Resource Fund – see public discussion about issues in Studentski grad and Water 2 in pt. 3; both events were funded by the Project’s Emergency Fund 9. Compilation, publication and distribution of a compendium describing the Project’s achievements, results and impact Scheduled later Activities aimed at strengthening and enhancing civil initiatives’ capacity 10. Securing experts’ support depending on various problems and specific needs: barristers’ office, drafting project proposals, experts statements, assessments, etc, regarding sustainable development plans as well as strategic vision and development plans, including urban design charette, with design proposals, presentations of sustainable architectural design, strategies for cultural and ecological tourism.
- Arch. Martin Mikush – Saving a Tree, the Citizen’s Way; Bulgarian Centre for Non-Profit Law – counseling on NGO law
11. On-spot research of a current problematic issue and summarizing of findings
- A survey measuring awareness about civil organizations and initiatives and civic culture among academic circles; some 200 quizzes collected, processed, analyzed and summarized
Activities aiming at sustainable development concepts and practices integration into curricula 12. Student internships in partnering NGO
- Martin Valchev, a Cultural Studies student, doing an internship at Bulgarian Biopersity Foundation
- Gabriela Petrova, Gergana Kosturkova, Violeta Krusteva – Cultural Studies students, doing an internship at Shtastlivetza Sofia Civil Association
13. Preparation and negotiation of traineeship’s implementation on the appropriate sites
- ongoing negotiations with Vitosha Nature Park and the Municipality of Chiprovtsi
14. Organizing and carrying out of one summertime traineeship for 30 people (incl. designing a virtual plan by an interdisciplinary team of students and professors, tailored to the characteristics of the selected site) Scheduled later Аchievements and lessons:
- Successful integration of project activities into the curricula
- Team has expanded, involving active students
- Topicality of project accounts for extra activities and events, eg. (11), media, academic and public interest
- Stimulating our NGO partners to offer more internships
- Preparation of summer traineeships
The aims of PLACE FOR FUTURE are: • Popularization of active civil initiatives in university environment Probably you have heard of civil initiatives such as Save Irakli or Sofia – A City for People. PLACE FOR FUTURE gives you the opportunity to meet their participants – live and in person. Because civil community in Bulgaria is not only an abstract term or a nice wish – it has its actual incarnations in real living people and concrete communities… • Interaction among civil initiatives and communities on the one hand, and between civil initiatives, and university lecturers and students on the other – communication, debates, discussions, mutual training, practical examples and common work… For a living social connection of solidarity and help among various civil and professional communities, between active civil groups and the academic community… In this interaction, through experience exchange and practical exercises related to their professional realization, students acquire skills for an integrated approach to reality and for being socially active, and develop their civil competency. • Involving the potential of expert representatives of the academic environment and the partnering non-governmental organizations; and engaging students by direct participation in the project activities as part of their training through: – Offering academic credits for specialized courses connected to the project – Independent work – Course projects and theses – Internships in NGO or another partnering organization – Summer practice – Travelling seminar – Participation in round-table talks, discussions, seminars – Providing opportunities for independent initiatives Experience has convinced us that questioning and protesting are not enough to build a future from our surrounding environment. We have devoted ourselves to this project because it is necessary to offer solutions together for a kind of development that has future. Join us! There’s а place for you. You can always find us at place.for.future -at- gmail.com.