The program reflects a number of recent cooperative ventures between the University and organizations representing the Balkans, said Prof. Raymond McNally (History), who added that the program was founded through a donation from the Balkan Studies Institute in Boston, which he heads.
McNally said that the program is designed not only to teach languages of the Balkan region, such as Bulgarian, but to provide a strong opportunity for scholarly analyses of the region's social, economic and cultural aspects. A Balkan Studies background would be useful in such fields as commerce, trade or government, he said.
"Interest in that part of the world is increasing as the countries move towards a market economy," McNally said. While American business is playing a large role in that shift, he added, "very few Americans know anything about the Balkans. People are needed who can speak the language and understand the culture."
The program offers six courses in history, politics, culture and languages of the Balkan region, including "Ethnic Problems in Russia and the Balkans," taught by McNally and Prof. Radu Florescu (History), and "The Balkans in Our Times," taught by Assoc. Prof. Donald Carlisle (Political Science), the program's executive director. Students who successfully complete Bulgarian language courses this year will be eligible for free tuition, room and board during the 1996 summer session at the major Bulgarian national university, St. Kliment Ohridski University, in Sofia.
The program also promotes faculty exchanges, offers a student internship program and sponsors a guest lecture series featuring scholars, politicians, business leaders and other experts from the US and the Balkans. A Balkan delegation from St. Kliment visited the campus this week to help inaugurate the lecture series, which began on Monday.
Last month, program faculty began conducting a joint research project with Balkan British Social Surveys-Gallop International on ethno-cultural and socio-political attitudes in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.
Last spring, as a prelude to the program's founding, the St. Kliment Ohridski University Press chose Boston College as the official American archive for its books and publications. The press, one of the largest in Europe, offered to donate up to 600 books per year, according to Burns Librarian Robert O'Neill, which will strengthen the University's resources in Balkan studies. BC was also chosen to host one of seven MacArthur Fellows from Bulgaria in the United States this year.
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