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Socrates Project

The Socrates Project is a collaborative educational outreach program of the Civic Engagement Initiative at Bard College Berlin and the Community Engagement Office at Central European University. We offer free university-level courses in the humanities and social sciences to adults in the wider community of Berlin who have been denied educational opportunities in the past, including those who have not completed secondary school.  

The evening courses, taught in English or German, are discussion-based and tackle the big questions of life and society in a friendly atmosphere yet with academic rigor. By engaging in conversations with peers and teachers on a variety of interconnected topics, the participants are empowered to keep educating themselves and deepen their involvement in the cultural and civic lives of their communities. 

The current Socrates courses run from September to November 2021. In Spring 2022, the next round of Socrates courses on “Freedom and Society” as overarching theme are going to start. Applications are opening soon. Do you want us to keep you updated on the courses? 

What Our Students Say

Krisztina: Socrates Project Budapest, 2019 

Krisztina: Socrates Project Budapest, 2019 

In the classes you can express your opinion freely, there is no such thing as a wrong opinion, or a wrong thought. These discussions made me open up more, and I came to understand topics in more depth. My classmates often shed light on things I wouldn’t have noticed in the readings – it was astounding how much more there is in certain people. Probably I also have knowledge they don’t. Several of our classmates who lived in very dire conditions contributed amazing thoughts. This strengthened my view that every person is a world of their own. People are important, no matter where they come from. 
Adrienn: Socrates Project Budapest, 2019 

Adrienn: Socrates Project Budapest, 2019 

This isn’t the regular, frontal teaching style: students take an active part, and they get to tell the group their own take on the material. It’s completely different from traditional education, since it includes all the students, who feel that the experience is their own, and are actually affected by the topic itself. They are not just passive listeners, since everyone adds a new aspect to the given topic, complementing each other. Through the discussions, this became a full circle, as we always reached a conclusion of some sort.

Judit: Socrates Project Budapest, 2019 

You had to begin using a completely different mindset, a different attitude: to think freely, and to voice your opinion freely. ... For us, to remain free is painfully missing, and this needs to be strengthened. In the classrooms at CEU, we were having free discussions, and we were listening to others’ opinions that they could put forward freely.

Gitta: Socrates Project Budapest, 2019 

To me, it was new that everyone did the assigned readings in advance and we then had a discussion on those in class. This is very different from secondary school, where the teacher gabbles the material, which the students then have to cram, whether or not they actually understand it. Since then I tried the Socratic method myself and I was pleased by the results. Otherwise I would tend to tell others what they need to know, whereas when they find and say it out themselves, they will remember much better. I would continue the course without hesitation, and I recommend it to anyone who likes and wants to think independently.


Socrates Partners

The Socrates Project is a collaboration between Bard College Berlin and Central European University in Budapest and Vienna, supported by a grant from the Open Society University Network.
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