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Academics Facing Autocracy: Alternative Modalities and Transnational Resilience in Higher Education

Monday, April 17, 2023, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

The CEU Democracy Institute cordially invites you to a hybrid workshop in the framework of the “Academics Facing Autocracy” program supported by Open Society University Network.

Physical venue: CEU Vienna campus, Quellenstraße 51, 1100 Wien / Auditorium

Online space: Zoom

The university is part of liberal democracy’s epistemic foundation and a site of its renewal. Illiberal practices and autocratic pressure have turned it into a theatre of intellectual, ideological and sociocultural contestation. Illiberal and autocratic policies are skillfully manipulating the well-known structural problems of higher education, privatizing or etatizing universities and research institutions. While autocrats avidly learn from each other, academics under siege scramble for self-preservation, caught between prospects of perpetual existential uncertainty and surviving in exile. 

The OSUN Global Visiting Fellowship for “Academics Facing Autocracy” brought together colleagues from the hotspots of this struggle for critical reflection and dialogue, to explore sustainable global strategies that create new links between research, teaching and civic engagement in response to a global challenge. In our discussion, we also drew on the experiences gained by the Invisible University for Ukraine project launched in Spring 2022. The closing workshop focuses on three questions that emerged as central during the preparatory meetings in Budapest in February-March 2023: institutional resilience, alternative pedagogical methods, and modalities of internationalization. Rather than a “conventional” conference, we chose a more open-ended and interactive format of panel discussions around three short position papers offering an overview of different contexts and practices. We hope that the participants bringing their own experiences will enrich this framework and offer new insights on devising innovative academic sanctuary programs and transnational programs of „hybrid education for students in hybrid regimes.” 


10.00 Welcome and Introduction 

10.15-12.00 Block 1: Autocratic Transformative Moments and Anti-Authoritarian Resilience  

12.00-12.30 Buffet Lunch Break 

12.30-14.15 Block 2: Pedagogical Innovations in Alternative Educational Projects 

14.15-14.35 Coffee Break 

14.35-16.30 Block 3: Transnational Synergies and (In)compatibilities  

16:30-17:00 Reflections and outlook 

Confirmed Participants 

  • Thiago Amparo (FGV School of International Relations, São Paulo)  
  • Alexander Etkind (Central European University, Vienna)  
  • Ligia Fabris (FGV Faculty of Law, Rio de Janeiro & Humboldt University, Berlin)  
  • Orli Fridman (Center for Comparative Conflict Studies, Belgrade)  
  • Nurzhamal Karamoldoeva (American University of Central Asia, Bishkek)  
  • Aysuda Kölemen (Bard College Berlin & Threatened Scholars Integration Initiative)  
  • Michael Kozakowski (CEU Yehuda Elkana Center for Teaching, Learning, and Higher Education Research)  
  • Rafael Labanino (University of Konstanz)  
  • Noémi Lévy-Aksu (Hafiza Merkezi/Truth, Justice, Memory Center, Istanbul)  
  • Almira Ousmanova (European Humanities University, Vilnius)  
  • Daniel Palm (University for Continuing Education, Krems & CEU Democracy Institute, Budapest)  
  • Lourdes Peroni (Paraguayan Institute of Constitutional Law, Asunción) 
  • Vladimir Petrovic (University of Belgrade & Boston University)  
  • Milica Popović (Global Observatory for Academic Freedom) 
  • Tena Prelec (University of Oxford and University of Rijeka)  
  • Shalini Randeria (Rector and President, Central European University, Vienna) 
  • Ostap Sereda (Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Central European University, Vienna & Imre Kertesz Kolleg, Jena)  
  • Oleksandr Shtokvych (Open Society University Network)  
  • Balázs Trencsényi (Central European University, Vienna & CEU Democracy Institute, Budapest) 
  • Renata Uitz (Central European University, Vienna & CEU Democracy Institute, Budapest) 
  • Alexandr Voronovici (CEU Democracy Institute, Budapest)