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WCED Lecture - Harvesting on the Fields of Ignorance: On the Blessings of Not-Knowing and Not-Understanding in the Post State-Socialist Reforms of Higher Learning

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB

Voldemar Tomusk, deputy director, Higher Education Support Program, Open Society Institute, London. Sponsored by the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, Center for European Studies-European Union Center, and Center for Russian and East European Studies.


The author argues that higher education reforms in post State-Socialist Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have been incomparably less radical than initially proposed or demanded. Ironically, considerable energy and resources have been spent on reform projects of limited or no outcomes. The simple sociological lesson from this is that institutions still matter. In the context of ongoing pan-European higher education reform initiatives, the question of the direction of the latter relative to the direction of the transition is intriguing. It sometimes appears that we are not that far from the point we started 20 years ago. However, this does not mean that universities in Central and East Europe should not be strengthened, but rather that there is more than one force they should be strengthened against, and that there is no quick fix. Approaching higher learning from the both sides of the modern project--communism and capitalism--might allow us to reach a better understanding of the life of mind and its institutional basis.

Speaker's Biography

Voldemar Tomusk is the deputy director of Open Society Institute's Higher Education Support Program (HESP), based in London, UK. He holds a doctoral degree in Social Sciences in Sociology of Education from the University of Turku, Finland and a postgraduate certificate in European Studies from the Central European University, Prague. Prior to joining Open Society Foundation in 1995 he served as head of the Higher Education Division and acting director of Higher Education and Research in the Estonian Ministry of Education. He is the author of a few dozen papers on higher education and higher education reforms. His recent works include a book, The Open World and Closed Societies: Essays on Higher Education Reforms "in Transition" (2004), and an edited volume, Creating the European Area of Higher Education: Voices from the Periphery (2006).