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Connecting Academics from the Balkans: Discovering New Perspectives on Academic and Journalistic Writing

Academic exchange between Chemnitz and the Balkans will continue in 2020 when students and professors from Germany, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia will focus their discussions on the topic “From Uncertainty to Confidence and Trust”.

The cooperation that has existed since 2013 between Professor Josef Schmied from the English Department at Chemnitz University of Technology and several Southeast European Universities will continue next year. The central concepts this time around are “uncertainty”, “confidence” and “trust”, as they interact with this year’s topic of "Conflicting Truths (in Academic and Journalistic Writing)". In this context, uncertainty is seen as a natural starting point in academic and journalistic writing – however, through detailed analysis, methodological rigour and diligent work, this first leads to confidence and trust in oneself and one's own work, and then an awakening of trust in the listener or reader. These aspects will be further developed, discussed, taught and applied together with students and lecturers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia during a workshop in Kosovo in spring 2020 and summer school in Serbia in summer 2020.

Since 2017, a new partner has joined the project each year. Next year, the established team will welcome another partner from the University in Banja Luka (in Republika Srpska). The extension of the cooperation to Bosnia and Herzegovina also brings the subnational uncertainties within the Balkans in the three parts of this country directly into this project. Discussing national identities has become an important part of these projects and is greatly appreciated by all participants, even in light of the many commonalities students from the participating universities have discovered in the projects so far. As in previous years, a joint academic publication and further use in the partner universities will yield publicly available results at the end of the project.

As with the other projects before, the new project is generously funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) through their “Ost-West-Dialog: Hochschuldialog mit den Ländern des westlichen Balkans 2020” programme. In the successful project, researchers collaborate from the fields of English Linguistics, Media Research, Journalism, TESOL and Cultural Studies. The primary focus lies in improving students’ academic writing and presentation skills and enhancing the interaction between students from the Balkans, who are neighbours but might still hold prejudices against each other. This was confirmed through the excursion from North Macedonia to Albania as part of the Summer School 2019 that was praised by all participants as particularly "prejudice-reducing".

The experiences so far have been extremely positive. This does not only result from the joint work in mixed Summer School groups during interviews, presentations and discussions in the last projects, but also from the lively karaoke and dance evenings, which were described by the Summer School participants themselves as popular evening events that foster understanding and build identity. These experiences and ideas will definitely be taken up in our 2020 project in order to make the Summer School not only an academic, but also a cultural experience.

Prof. Dr. Josef Schmied, 0371 531-34226, E-Mail

Jessica Dheskali, 0371 531-35292 ,

(Author: Jessica Dheskali)

Matthias Fejes

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