Welcome to the ESSR!

March 23, 2018

Whether by accident or on purpose, you’ve stumbled across the blog of a brand new Erasmus + grant project called the Experience of State Socialism Reimagined (ESSR). Welcome!

This project is the work of five contributing partners: the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague, Czech Republic; the Sofia Platform in Sofia, Bulgaria; Haggadah in Sarajevo, Bosnia; the Innovative Teaching Group from Slovakia and the Creative Teaching Group out of Prague as our associated partners. Together, we’re working to find historical sources that can be used in intercultural education. While we focus on teaching about state socialism and the communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, we hope that our methods will be applicable to finding material for other periods and regions. This blog will serve as a record of our progress, and then later a roadmap for ourselves and for anyone else who hopes to do the same thing.

The original idea for the ESSR was born out of an earlier project from the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, which resulted in an online educational environment called Socialism Realised: Life in Communist Czechoslovakia, 1948-89. However, an ideal version of a resource like this would take the experiences of other former Eastern bloc nations into account. Through the ESSR, this group of partners is going to work together to build a process for finding educational material that can both speak to the experience of specific countries and also fulfill universal educational goals’ if such goals exist.

We’ll be wrestling with numerous big questions throughout this process: how can we build intercultural dialogue through education, specifically history education? How, and to what extent, can we use a process of cultural translation in order to create historical sources that work universally? What kind of historical sources work in which contexts?

As we go through a process of finding these sources, piloting them in schools in each partner country, and then putting them together into concrete lesson plans, this blog will be a way for us to reflect on and record the experience. At the end of the process, it will have captured both our successes and our failures, and thus will essentially function as a manual for anyone attempting to do similar work.

We at the ESSR team are excited to start working. We just had our kick-off meeting in February of 2018, and we will have gotten our teaching materials together and translated into four languages by the fall of 2019. We’re thrilled to have you follow along on what will surely be a fascinating and illuminating experience.