Liberal Education in CEE Countries: A Case Study of MISH UW in the Transitional Period

  • Abstract:
    After 1989 CEE countries have faced the challenge of transforming their higher education systems. Contrary to a growing need for professional, market-oriented study programs, in 1993 University of Warsaw has created College of Interdepartmental Studies in the Humanities (MISH UW). This institution has allowed a gradually growing number of students to follow an individual path of study under supervision of a tutor. It wasn’t a college in a full sense, rather a mode of study, allowing students to attend classes within the whole university. It was hoped that the college will serve as a model for transforming whole university. It may be tempting to call this kind of study ‘liberal education’ – so in the first part I would like to show to what extent this can be justified. MISH became very popular in Poland as a model of a honours programme of a kind. Over the years 10 big public Polish universities have introduced their own MISH. Artes Liberales Academy has been created to serve as a MISH between six universities, and Collegium Artes Liberales started offered BA and MA studies in artes liberales. But at the same time the eastern partnerships – with universities in Ukraine and Russia – has been developed and resulted in opening MISH-like institutions in those countries. I would like to show the map of liberal education institutions in CEE countries. From the beginning, the spiritus movens of those institutions Jerzy Axer, a classicist, currently dean of recently created ‘Artes Liberales’ Faculty. During the last two decades a number of things have changed, for internal as well as external factors have played role. A generational change is getting close, and the need of a more distinct vision of study spreading. In the last part of my presentation, I would like to present current discussions on reforming MISH.