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Belarusian Review

Belarusians Abroad

CBS Symposium at Southwestern College

The Center for Belarusian Studies at Southwestern College organized and held a major symposium October 6 and 7, 2009, on the topic “Higher Education and Civil Society in Belarus.” The conference - held on Southwestern’s campus in Winfield, Kansas - brought together leading specialists in the subject area from Belarus, from the North America Belarusian Diaspora, and from the diplomatic arena.

The symposium was chaired by Dr. Maria Paula Survilla, the Center’s Executive Director and Associate Professor of. Ethnomusicology at Wartburg College in Iowa.  In addition to Professor Survilla, Associate Executive Directors Dr. J. Andrew Sheppard and Ambassador (retired) David H. Swartz also presented papers

Belarusians participating in the two-day meeting included:
Ales Antsipenka, Head, Belarusian Collegium, Aliaksandr Kalbaska, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs, European Humanities University, Aliaksandr Kazulin, Former Rector, Belarus State University, Stanislau Shushkevich, Former Head of State, Republic of Belarus.

Other official participants in the symposium were:
Zina Gimpelevich, President, Canadian Association of Slavists and Professor of Slavic Literatures, University of Waterloo, Kenneth Yalowitz, Adjunct Professor and Director, Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus.

The Center extended an invitation to the government of Belarus to send an official delegation to participate in the symposium.  Unfortunately, that invitation was declined.

Participants’ papers and the lively exchanges they evoked revealed highly relevant yet often significantly divergent views on the prospects for the role of higher education in advancing democratic civil society in Belarus.  A constructive synergy emerged over the two days of discussions, leading to a strong consensus around specific points pertaining to the current state of affairs in Belarus and the ageless question:  “What is to be done?”  The Center is now developing follow-up measures.

The Center for Belarusian Studies wishes to thank sincerely all participants in this symposium.  Their dedication, unique perspectives, and common sense are all greatly appreciated.  The Center is grateful to the German Marshall Fund of the United States for its financial support and also to the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program.

This article appeared in
Belarusian Review, Vol. 21, No. 4
Copyright 2009 Belarusian Review
All rights reserved.
Source: Center for Belarusian Studies, www.belarusiancenter.org

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