Interdisciplinary International Traveling University:
in Western Stara Planina and in Chiprovtsi, Bulgaria:
26 May – 1 June 2016
In 2016, our unifying thread will be
Cities of the Future / The Future of Cities.
We still have some free places for lecturers, students and volunteers from EU and if you or your students or colleagues are interested in to join us, we can still manage that. You can book a ticket to Sofia and send us a link at place.for.future -at- gmail.com. The Departure from Sofia is at July 6, 8.30 from St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. We will travel from Sofia to Chiprovtsi with bus with microphones for lectures on the road, 50 seats.
NEW AND TRADITIONAL COMMUNITIES IN EUROPE: BETWEEN PAST AND FUTURE
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:
NEW AND TRADITIONAL COMMUNITIES IN EUROPE: BETWEEN PAST AND FUTURE
Traditional communities and behaviour models have been disintegrating; some have already become anachronistic. World-scale changes in our societies are so dynamic and unpredictable that they pose serious challenges to the capacity of inpiduals or groups to adapt. It has become increasingly difficult for groups to identify themselves on the basis of enduring, traditional interconnections. Identities seem to be ever more focused on personal choices, unfettered by long-lasting relationships and commitments. The structures, institutions and interactions fundamental to any society—family, matrimony, class oppositions and pisions, intergenerational, intersexual and interspecies relations—have undergone drastic transformations. At the same time, the necessity for new sustainable models of social behaviour, interaction and coexistence has become increasingly acute on all levels of social interrelations.
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. Moreover, these processes prevent inpiduals from maintaining organized forms of shared life. The new inpiduals, who reject (and become ever more incompatible with) traditional norms, institutions, values and models of communal life, turn into institutions in themselves, and it is their calling to construct the new communities and norms of their world. 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.
Last but not least, our Traveling University will stir us to debate and reflect.
Why do new communities emerge? How do they attract young or educated people? Can we discern, past their obvious persity, some common principles and values? Do they offer more—or different—opportunities for personal expression? How are they related to democracy? How do communities make decisions? Do they foster a more responsible attitude to communal wealth and public responsibilities? What are their drawbacks? Can they offer solutions to the crisis of community and identity? Do they overcome the disadvantages of ‘living in communes’ characteristic of the ‘old’ new communities from the 19th and 20th centuries? How?
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
The main institutional partners of our education network are:
- 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
For more information about our previous Traveling Universities,
please see the following links:
More about the region West Stara Planina
~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.
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