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The Institute for International Liberal Education (IILE) was formed at Bard in 1998. Its mission is to advance the theory and practice of international liberal arts education.
We believe that international educational partnerships must be based on mutuality and equality, and that it is important for international exchange to occur at the undergraduate level. Our long-term partnerships are characterized by the exchange of students, faculty, and curriculum—culminating in dual degree and dual credit programs. Historically, we have focused on countries that have recently overthrown authoritarian regimes—so-called “emerging democracies”—both because of an intrinsic interest in these nations, and because transitional moments are especially open to progressive change.
The Institute has interests in human rights theory and practice, and in translation. In all of its activities, IILE seeks to realize a humane and forward-looking educational politics; and in this way contribute to the just and realistic solution of global problems.
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Bard’s involvement in international education was stimulated by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Over time, we have expanded our interests and partnership programs from Eastern and Central Europe to Southern Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. In 1991, we began sponsoring undergraduate students who came to Bard from Eastern and Central Europe as part of the Program in International Education (PIE), which continues to this day. For a remarkable number of these young people, the nature of learning at Bard was the most profound experience of a transformative year. They encouraged us to explore possibilities for collaboration with institutions abroad who were interested in educational reform.
When faculty members from St. Petersburg State University (SPbU) approached Bard after the end of the Soviet Union, we joined together to initiate the joint venture that would become Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Smolny offers a dual B.A. degree in liberal arts from Bard and SPbU. It is Russia’s first accredited liberal arts college and a significant force in the reform of Russian higher education. IILE manages Bard’s administrative work with Smolny. U.S. undergraduates also apply through IILE to participate in the Bard-Smolny program, which offers the unique opportunity to study abroad in liberal arts classrooms with Russian students.
The overthrow of Apartheid inspired us to expand our reach to South Africa and Zimbabwe. In 2000 we created the International Human Rights Exchange (IHRE). Originally a summer program run by a partnership of 13 Southern American universities and American liberal arts colleges, IHRE became a semester program jointly offered by Bard and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. At the time, IHRE was the only semester-long multidisciplinary human rights program in the world. IHRE is now available directly through the University of Witwatersrand.
In 2008, we were approached about the possibility of forging a partnership with Al-Quds University in Palestine. We gladly accepted, hoping to make a concrete contribution to peaceful development and a just solution to the problems of the Middle East. The Al-Quds Bard partnership is becoming Bard’s most comprehensive international partnership to date. It includes the creation of the a liberal arts college within Al-Quds University, a Master of Arts in Teaching Program (the first in the region), and a model school.
In 2009, Bard signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) that commits Bard and AUCA to offering a dual B.A. degree. AUCA, which is located in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, was founded in 1997 and has 1,300 students. Instruction is in English.
This new partnership will also involve Smolny College, and will offer opportunities for students from North American colleges and universities to spend a semester or a year at AUCA as visiting exchange students.
The Institute also administers direct exchanges of students with universities in Germany (Humboldt University, Berlin); and the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe), Egypt (American University in Cairo) , Hong Kong (Lingnan University), and South Africa (University of the Witwatersrand). These direct exchanges are open only to Bard undergraduates.
In 2002, the Institute became home to Words Without Borders, an online translation journal that opens doors to international exchange through translation of the world's best writing. Words Without Borders also serves as an advocacy organization for literature in translation and supports high school teachers who desire to incorporate the literature and culture of other countries into their lesson plans.
In 2006, we undertook the creation of the first comprehensive dictionary of the Igbo language, in partnership with the Chinua Achebe Foundation.
Additional activities have included conferences on “Translation as Cultural Transmission. Toward a Politics and Poetics of Translation.” (1989), “Accounting for Atrocities. Prosecuting War Crimes Fifty Years After Nuremberg” (1998), and “The Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Impact and Contributions” (2007).
The Institute for International Liberal Education was formed at Bard in 1998. Its mission is to advance the theory and practice of international liberal arts education.
We believe that international educational partnerships must be based on mutuality and equality, and that it is important for international exchange to occur at the undergraduate level. Our long-term partnerships are characterized by the exchange of students, faculty, and curricular elements. Comprehensive exchanges afford the best possibility for the participants, both in and out of the classroom, to enter into direct, sustained dialogue on intellectual and cultural issues–precisely the kind of international dialogue that is needed to respond to the global challenges of the twenty-first century. Unlike the unilateral “exchanges” of the past, such substantive academic partnerships foster mutual respect and understanding and enrich learning and teaching for all students and faculty at Bard and participating institutions, not just those individuals who go abroad themselves. The Institute does not seek to export American models and methods. Rather, our aim is to create dynamic relationships through which we and our partner institutions learn from each others’ ideas and experience.
The Institute’s projects are located in regions undergoing rapid political and economic transformation (currently Russia, East Central Europe, Southern Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia). Our partners are leading universities with an interest in educational reform.
In addition to developing Bard’s partnerships abroad, the Institute organizes conferences and other events that raise awareness of international issues, including international education, among students, educators, and the general public.
Professional Associations and Compliance
The Institute for International Liberal Education is a member of the Forum on Education Abroad and adheres to the Standards of Good Practice.
The IILE also holds memberships with Diversity Abroad and the Institute of International Education, and participates in events sponsored by NAFSA (Association of International Educators) and the Council on International Educational Exchange.
Information on the current Clery Report for Bard College may be found at the Dean of Student Affairs website.
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