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The Warsaw Voice » Society » November 29, 2012
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Tycoon Pays for Oxford Course on Poland
November 29, 2012   
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Britain’s Oxford University, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, is set to launch a new interdisciplinary course on contemporary Poland, sponsored by one of this country’s richest businessmen.

Prof. Margaret MacMillan, the Warden of St. Antony’s College, an all-graduate college of Oxford University specializing in international relations, Oct. 24 signed a deal with businessman Leszek Czarnecki (pictured), the owner of the Noble Bank group.

The St. Antony’s College Oxford Noble Foundation was set up to provide funding for the program. The foundation will pay an initial amount of around zl.6 million to launch the course.

Czarnecki said that since Poland regained independence 23 years ago it has caught up with Europe, while its experience since the start of the global crisis in 2008 shows that in many respects it is coping better than other countries. “However, a country’s importance on the international arena is determined not only by its economic position. It’s also a question of showing off its cultural heritage,” Czarnecki added. “I think that Poland is much less known around the world than its economic significance warrants. And it is about time we changed that.”

The Oxford University course will focus on the changes which took place in Poland in the 1980s and after 1989, and on the country’s current economic, social and political system. The course will be based on social sciences and the humanities. It will comprise political, economic, sociological, historical and cultural aspects, as well as studying regional ties. The goal is to create a research center and a source of information on contemporary Poland.

International applicants will be considered for the post of course director.

Planned are an eight-week series of seminars and workshops, conferences and lectures by experts. Additionally, there are plans to publish articles about contemporary Poland and to collaborate with other Oxford colleges.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the first non-communist Polish prime minister, is the honorary patron of the project. “I think that Poland can show Europe and the world something interesting—Polish political thought, which was the basis of the changes that took place after 1989,” Mazowiecki said at the signing of the deal with Czarnecki. “The Polish approach was to do this peacefully, without revenge, but methodically. And it is in this way that change was achieved in a world that seemed unchangeable,” added Mazowiecki, who was Polish prime minister 1989-1990.
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