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COIL Center Receives Open Society Institute (OSI) Higher Education Support Project Grant
The COIL Center at Purchase College (SUNY) and the European Humanities University – International (EHU), jointly received a prestigious OSI grant this past spring. COIL is working with EHU administrators, faculty and students to assess the state of EHU’s distance learning programs and to develop a strategic roadmap for their future development. These programs were originally put in place soon after Belarusian authorities forcibly shutdown European Humanities University in 2004, necessitating their move to online instruction as the only way to continue operating as a higher education institution.
SUNY and EHU team members at work
The European Humanities University opened in Minsk, Belarus in 1992, and was a leader of internationalization and liberalization of higher education in that country for 12 years. With the support of international donors, EHU worked to integrate Belarus into the arena of European higher education, but it became the target of increasing pressure from Belarusian authorities, and was eventually forced to terminate operations in summer 2004. It reestablished itself in Lithuania with financial support from the European Union, OSI, USAID, and the MacArthur Foundation. Though officially registered as a Lithuanian university, EHU continues to carry out its mission of providing internationally recognized quality higher education to Belarusian students who come to Vilnius to study in face-to-face courses or enroll in EHU’s distance learning programs, which are the focus of the joint OSI grant.
Jon Rubin, COIL’s director assembled a team of 4 SUNY experts who are working with EHU personnel throughout the grant period. In April 2008 the COIL team spent 7 days with their EHU partners conducting needs assessment and problem identification interviews, workshops and structured discussions. They returned to Vilnius in July with their findings and recommendations. As EHU acts to implement those recommendations, faculty from EHU and four SUNY colleges are working on an initiative to develop online modules for courses to be delivered collaboratively in the fall 2008 semester. These courses include Visual Design with FIT; International Law with ESC; English with SUNY Ulster and Tourism and Trade with SUNY Delhi.
Folk Music Festival in a Vilnius ParkThis project brings together faculty and staff from a number of SUNY campuses to apply their expertise to support human rights at the university level in a meaningful way. The COIL team is: Clark Shah-Nelson, the Coordinator of Online Education for SUNY Delhi; Hope Windle a multimedia instructional designer at SUNY Ulster; Valeri Chukhlomin the Coordinator for Management and Economics at SUNY Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning; and Eric Feinblatt co-founder of the Center for Excellence in Teaching at the Fashion Institute of Technology.