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Smith Forges New Partnership with University of Sarajevo

By Kristen Cole

Almost a decade after a peace agreement brought a halt to interethnic civil strife in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Smith College is partnering with that country’s largest university to develop a degree program that will further understanding of international relations.

Smith recently received a three-year $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State to facilitate the development of an American Studies Program at the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- the first such program offered at the undergraduate level in southeastern Europe.

The new program will engage undergraduates in examining America’s experience building a democratic multicultural society; Bosnia and Herzegovina established a democratic form of government in November 1995.

Developing an American studies degree program at the University of Sarajevo is a timely challenge that will further the understanding of international relations, says James Hicks, one of the Smith project leaders who will help develop the program. Photo by Jim Gipe.

“In Europe, we often talk of transatlantic integrations as a way of achieving a better future and stable and sustainable development in our part of the world,” says Srebren Dizdar, a faculty member at the University of Sarajevo.

“By exposing our students to a diversity of theories, experiences and examples from different areas of American life, both in the past and in the present, we hope to broaden their horizons, teach them to develop critical thinking and pass their knowledge and skills to a wider community in their respective countries.”

The partnership between Smith and the University of Sarajevo includes visits to the partner institutions for planning, lectures and research. Along with Dizdar, other project leaders include Zvonimir Radeljkovic of the University of Sarajevo and, from Smith, James Hicks, director of the American studies diploma program, and Alan Bloomgarden, director of faculty grants.

“Creating an academic program with interdisciplinary focus, real-world relevance and cutting-edge scholarship is a timely challenge,” according to Hicks. “Such engagement in this time of mutual incomprehension between the world’s Muslims and America will clearly benefit both societies.”

The new American Studies Program at the University of Sarajevo will complement the European Studies Program there, which was organized with the University of Bologna. The University of Sarajevo enrolls 47,000 students.

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