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OLIve - the Open Learning Initiative

OLIve Program 2021-22

The Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) is a project funded by the Open Society Foundations through the Open Society University Network which links Bard College Berlin with Central European University and the University of East London to enhance education opportunities for people of refugee backgrounds in Europe. The OLIve Academy Year (AY) program is a full-time track within Bard College Berlin’s existing Academy Year program that has two goals: (1) preparing students to make competitive applications to BA programs and (2) supporting these students in developing the language, writing and study skills, and disciplinary knowledge to be successful students in these BA programs. 

In the academic year 2021-22, the OLIve-AY program is supporting a select cohort of students. These students participate in Bard College Berlin’s Language and Thinking Program in August. Over two semesters, students take the Core course Plato’s Republic and Its Interlocutors, a course on Academic Writing, and additional courses based on their academic interests. Students also benefit from workshops on various aspects of academic life and modules that assist in preparing transfer applications for BA programs in Germany and beyond.

History of the OLIve Program 2019-21

The current OLIve Academy Year is a new iteration of educational projects developed by the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) unit established in August 2019 at Bard College Berlin to facilitate access to higher education for refugees in Europe. From 2019 to 2021, within the Refugee Education Initiatives 2 Project (2018-2021), OLIve implemented three university preparatory programs and led the Work Package on Creating and Promoting Welcoming Environments.

OLIve at Bard College Berlin supported 18 students with a refugee background, or in a refugee-like situation, in three fully-funded preparatory programs for graduate studies in English, OLIve-Plus (Fall 2019), OLIve-Access (Spring 2020), OLIve-UP (AY 2020-21). By the end of the Refugee Education Initiatives 2 project (30 January 2021), 13 out of the 18 OLIve students were accepted to, or had graduated from, master programs in Business Studies, Human Rights, Political Science, and Public Policy.

OLIve university preparatory programs (OLIve-UP) are a good practice developed by the OLIve team at Central European University (Budapest, Hungary), during the first iteration of the Refugee Education Initiatives project (2016-2019), inspired by the graduate preparatory programs offered at Central European University for Roma students since 2004. The OLIve-UP curriculum is student-centered and aims to develop and strengthen academic skills that are necessary to get accepted to and thrive within a graduate program in English.


Dr. Jeffrey Champlin
Academic Director of the OLIve Academy Year Program

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