Why the name of our team is Higher Education Unbounded!
Our challenge is how to find the proper methods of innovative pedagogy to channel academic and civic ideas into non-democratic learning environments. We aim to invent and implement social science research-based teaching projects that can innovatively overcome the political restrictions. Our solution is practical and effective: we apply new methods that promote critical thinking and discursivity. These new inventions are based on our team’s unique strength combining broad expertise and a new community dedicated to develop learning: social scientists, education specialists, students, civic organization with field experience in challenging environments, and experts in business training. In addition, we rely on wide international and national networks that support our innovative process by complementing our competence and by offering dialogue.
This project is not only about teaching techniques but we have a benchmarking initiative that creates a new bridge to communicate and exchange ideas. Our aim is to learn to better understand other political systems and their societies, and more importantly, how to deal and come to terms with them. In this sense the project has an intrinsic aim to produce policy relevant results and publications that can be of use for Finnish authorities that deal with democracy deficits on the global, and particularly on the regional scale. To build a dialogical relation with these systems is necessary as it enables us to understand our own development and the changes in our democracy.
We concentrate on university students because they are the next generation of intelligentsia, decision-makers and managers that will concretely be able to affect their countries’ future. In addition, we establish strong relations to university staff and spread our methods to secure their continuity in the target countries. We apply our innovations in democracy-challenged countries in the neighborhood of the EU, Belarus, Turkey and Azerbaijan, all of which have a record of authoritarianism and human rights violations. We acknowledge the duty of our embedded role as educators, researchers and practitioners to take an active stand in the debate over future social development. We also want to show an example of how to take advantage of the enormous possibilities of learning.