Antioch Education Abroad to Revamp EIT Program

Experiential education is the cornerstone of the Antioch College, so it comes as no surprise that Antioch Education Abroad (AEA) has recently revamped its Europe In Transition program in order to meet the challenges and realities of the current political paradigm.
Since Europe In Transition’s (EIT) inception as “Urban Term” in 1972, students from Antioch College and a multitude of other universities have traveled through Europe during designated spring terms in order to explore a comparative approach of post-communism and post-industrialism.
While this may have been considered exceptionally relevant in the 1970s, Leslie King, the program coordinator, thinks that the program has begun to lose its appeal in the last several years, acknowledging, “One of the reasons for change is noticing that this intensive post-communist study has not been appealing to students in this day and age as much anymore.”
This has been attributed to the changing geopolitical landscape. With traditional-age college students primarily identifying with military adventurism in Yugoslavia and Iraq as opposed to the fall of the Berlin Wall, AEA is hopeful that the inclusion of Turkey in the program in place of the Czech Republic and Hungary will “strengthen” the comparative approach.
Kim Sims, AEA’s Associate Director and Program Director for EIT, noted that the program has had a long history of revision, with countries such as Sweden and Yugoslavia included for study and travel in earlier years. Sims thinks that the inclusion of Turkey will prove to be rewardingly challenging, stating, “We’ll be grappling with things that are too politically sensitive to address in a frontal matter, like the role of the military in political life, the Armenian genocide, and the Kurdish situation. These are things we’re all interested in and may have close personal investment in, but if we’re interested in it academically, we need to look at it from a different lens and in a way that won’t endanger our hosts or ourselves.”
Sims also added that the inclusion of Turkey in the program is not simply in response to its prominence in the headlines or its troubled political history. The program has been redeveloped in order to expand the relation of countries and their political and economic systems within the comparative context. The differences between Turkey and Eastern Europe are more striking than the differences that had presented themselves while EIT was concentrated between Eastern European countries of propinquity. Sims hopes to tie in the experiences of Germany and Poland with those of Turkey, by situating students in homestays with families that are representative of the general population and housing them with migrants, primarily in Turkish neighborhoods. This should provide a supportive foundation to study transnational linkages in a way that hasn’t been explored before in the program.
Although Turkey has been added as a location for study and individual research within the program, the majority of the curriculum will remain unchanged. The ability to “study seemingly incongruous environments”, according to Sims, will differ greatly in that, “similar places, for comparative projects, look at how cases relate as opposed to comparing them to control variables.” Sims sees the addition of Turkey in the program as an invaluable means of exacting the differences between these countries while still finding and researching points of relevance.
Both King and Sims maintained that they would consider first-year applicants, but they highly emphasized the research work that would be entailed, strongly suggesting that students with a second-year status or higher apply. The deadline for applications is October 30.