|International summer school in Bakuriani stimulates thought|
|July 11, 2008|
July 11, 2008
From July 7 to 13, Georgia’s mountain resort Bakuriani will hold a summer school entitled ‘Europe and Liberty.’ The summer school is designed to bring the concept of liberty to students from European and CIS states, and offers students in this region the chance to study this type of course closer to home.
The seminars discuss topics such as understanding the market and the logic of the state; trade and growth; what are rights and why we have them; the history of globalization and its causes; liberty, wealth and property rights; and economic freedom and peace.
Guest Professor Pierre Garello from the Paul Cezanne University said: “We have worked out a mixed approach towards the idea of the summer school. A team of economists, a lawyer, a historian and a philosopher are all trying hard to get through to participants and show them that in order to understand what it takes for the society to be prosperous, analysis of all these aspects is essential.”
The seminars aim to offering young researchers an opportunity to present themselves before the diverse audience and more importantly, to listen to professionals: Colin C. Ganley from the Oxford University, James Stacey Taylor from the College of New Jersey; Boudewijn Bouckaert from the Law School of the University of Ghent, Paata Sheshelidze and Gia Jandieri from the New Economic School of Georgia and Pierre Garello from the Paul Cezanne University. Kakha Bendukidze, the current Head of the State Chancellery of Georgia and the former State Minister on Reforms Coordination is scheduled to speak about the path of economic reforms in Georgia.
Full scholarships for Georgian participants have been provided by the Knowledge Fund, a non-profit organization supporting education and science. The Knowledge Fund is the legal owner of the Free University of Tbilisi that consists of two leading higher education schools – the European School of Management (ESM) and Tbilisi Institute of Asia and Africa. Other organizers of the event include the New Economic School of Georgia, which was founded in 2001 and is oriented towards forming public opinion based on classical liberal ideas; the European Institute of Economic Studies (France), CATO Institute (USA) and Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Germany) which is currently financing Armenian and Azerbaijani participants. Representatives of the Baltic States, Ukraine, Great Britain, Sweden, Romania and other countries are also attending the summer school.
Garello is a representative of the IREF, a think tank that promotes fiscal federalism, and the coordinator of the European liberal think tank Resource Bank. Garello said: “The main problem that we generally encounter with students is that they specialize very early on and partly lose the ability to think in wider terms. Our main goal is to introduce some smart students to new ideas and make them start thinking.”
His Georgian colleague, Paata Sheshelidze, President of the New Economic School of Georgia, finds the format of the summer school most fitting to the goals of the seminar.
“Such a format of studies is very interactive. It gives students the chance to dig deeper and ask questions, and on the other hand, it leaves plenty of time for lecturers to provide an in-depth understanding on issues discussed. Besides, strong bonds are easily established between professors and students and among students. Classical education does not provide for such networking,” Sheshelidze explained.
Students agree that the format is obliging and involving. Lana Oniani, the main specialist at the Legal Department of the State Chancellery of Georgia and a participant awarded scholarship of the Knowledge Fund has been getting up at 7 every morning to be on time for seminars. “It makes you feel uncomfortable to be late because of the environment full of professionalism and motivation,” says Oniani.
Oniani finds the good mixture of theory and practice very useful. “Each professor does two hours of lecturing. Every day, every two hours, gives us new topics and new ideas. After the two hours, we are organized in groups of 6 and have to think of a maximum of three questions that interest us. We are given 25 minutes for in-group discussions. The best thing about these discussions is that the people rotate amongst the groups, so you get to meet new people and be active.”
Her colleague from the State Chancellery of Georgia, Giorgi Tsenteradze, agrees that the cultural diversity adds to the educational value of the summer school. “The fact that Armenians and Azeris work in the same group and try to work out questions together is a very positive fact in itself,” Tsenteradze emphasized.
His lecturer, Boudewijn Bouckaert, a member of the Belgian High Council for Judicial Matters and Chair of the Land Management Committee, considers the same effect of the summer school to be a main indication that seminars are successful. “When participants -sometimes in conflict - work together, when discussions are lively, when students of different nationalities go well together, it means that courses are interesting and that students will be urged in future to apply knowledge gained at seminars to practice,” said Bouckaert.
Gia Jandieri, Vice-President of the New Economic School of Georgia shares his optimism. “I’d like to advise students to read many books, never miss a chance to attend such valuable seminars and don’t be scared to actually turn their knowledge into practice,” Jandieri says.
His colleague from Oxford University, Professor Colin Ganley, the Economic History Editor of the Journal of the Oxford University Historical Society, said he had already noticed sound prerequisites for such optimism. “Our main goal is to expose classic liberal ideas and to facilitate dialogue. Everything we say, people take it personally here and discuss very thoroughly. You can see that these people want to play an active role in how their countries develop,” Ganley said.
For Lithuanian Mandas Sekmongas, this is his first visit to Bakuriani. Sekmongas believes that the main goal of the summer school studies has been achieved: “This is the first seminar in my life, when you listen to professors, take part in discussions and then you notice that you start thinking about bigger things like freedom, for example, and how you approach them. This seminar stimulates thought.”
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