ISA in support of education in humanities in Bulgaria

ISA endorses the below petition in support of general education in the humanities and social sciences in Higher Education institutions in Bulgaria issued by Association of University Professors in Philosophy in Bulgaria

In view of the increasing trend for reducing the hours provided for general education classes, mainly philosophy classes, often going hand in hand with closing humanities and social sciences departments, we turn to the responsible institutions and all citizens who are concerned about the future of higher education in our country, to support this petition.

1. By virtue of the established academic traditions at European universities, studying philosophy and, more generally, humanities and social sciences, is considered a significant part of university higher education, and is among the prerequisites for the gravity and prestige of the university diploma. We consider it unacceptable not to offer philosophy and social sciences classes in higher education institutions that call themselves universities.

2. It is precisely the education in philosophy, social, legal and economic disciplines in higher education institutions that could ensure achieving the main goal, formulated in the adopted Strategy for development of higher education in the Republic of Bulgaria for the period 2014-2020: for higher education to contribute to “the overall development of the individual and of society” and to prepare “students not only for their professional realization but also for their social and civil role.”

We are convinced that studying the above-mentioned disciplines promotes establishing basic human, civil and academic values, personal development of students and their successful professional realization. The Strategy for development of higher education in Bulgaria for the period 2014–2020 is not presently accompanied by a concrete analysis of the mechanisms for achieving the goals set in it. Thus, instead of reinforcing the presence of general education classes in higher education institutions, the trend in our country is towards eliminating them and reducing the number of full-time professors in these disciplines.

3. Training in the field of philosophy, and in social, legal and economic sciences at Bulgarian universities would contribute to acquiring a considerable part of the knowledge, skills and competences provided for in the National Qualifications Framework of Republic of Bulgaria, adopted by a special Act by the Council of Ministers Act 2012: “wide personal viewpoint, beyond specific vocational training ”, “forming and expressing one's opinion on issues of social and moral nature”, “ability to analyze views in a broader social context ”,“ ability to cover perception, understanding and expression of theories and principles ”, “ability to understand others and solidarity with them”, “ability to formulate ideas, problems and solutions to different audiences ”, “ability to individually interpret the acquired knowledge ”, etc.

We also consider the teaching of general education subjects essential in view of the ever declining level of literacy and general knowledge of the students who are currently entering the higher education institutions in our country.

Considering the responsibility of the state to guarantee quality education, fostering links between scientific disciplines and awareness of professional responsibility, as well as being flexible with regard to the conditions of modern life, we believe that a well-thought-out and long-term state policy regarding the training in philosophy and social sciences in Bulgarian universities is imperative.

We are convinced that while respecting the autonomy of higher education institutions, there are mechanisms, for example in evaluating them by the NEAA, that could encourage the study of general education disciplines in Bulgarian higher education institutions, as well as ways to offer targeted training to non-philosopher students in Philosophy and Social Studies, in accordance with the specifics of higher education institutions and the respective professional interests of students in the corresponding majors.

We insist on open discussion of the issues with quality in higher education, on formatting a working group with representatives of the academic community and MES experts on the issues raised in the petition, and on developing a regulation of state requirements for general education in acquiring Bachelor's degree in the Republic of Bulgaria.

Association of University Professors in Philosophy in Bulgaria

The petition text in Bulgarian and English is available at https://www.peticiq.com/235817