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June 2005
Round table: “The referendum regarding the European Constitution, France, 29th of May, explanations and conclusions.”
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May 2005
Colloquium “From Signing the Treaty to a Successful Integration in the United Europe”
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April 2005
Conference in Cluj -“The European Integration, countdown for Romania.”

March 2005
Conference «The future of Europe. What kind of Romania in what kind of Europe?»
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October 2004
French - Romanian conference in partnership with the European Movement

September 2004
Ithaka Foundation and the British Council: debate on "Current EU Policy Issues: A UK Perspective", held at the Titulescu Foundation

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Education

Life-long learning: the earnest value of a scholarship and its visible returns.

 

Some hundred years ago, the British writer, H.G. Wells was stating, "human history is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe" (The War of Worlds). Those of us concerned by this race, have our consciousness guided by the action of keeping the balance on the side of education and learning.

Life-long learning

Learning is one of the main keys for everyone to realize their ambitions and meet their life expectation. Whatever one’s age or expertise learning is life-long.

All the Ithaka Foundation’s programmes have been developed and will be pursued in accordance to the principle of learning/ training, as we view education as providing a wealth of engaging opportunities providing our stakeholders with the skills to develop as lifelong learners.
Be it scholarship or exchange programmes, EU awareness or the development of a corporate responsible behaviour at the work place, learning is the core and foundation of our philosophy.

Inspired by the generation of 1848 Romanian patriots who, upon completing their studies in the West, returned home to build the basis of the modern Romanian state, the Ithaka Foundation aims to be one of the actors working to create a new generation of modern, forward-looking Romanians who can lead the country into a democratic and prosperous 21st century.
Looking more broadly at the current state of affairs, and placing ourselves in the perspective of the very achievement that just this month Romania will very likely be invited to join the North Atlantic Alliance, and looking back at no more than fifteen years ago and at the context of the past fifty years, what is one to say, for example about the extraordinary success achieved in the almost half century that began in 1945 and ended in 1990, which saw what could in fact be avoided between two heavily armed states, ideologically and politically hostile such as the United States and the Soviet Union? Is credit for this undoubtedly remarkable achievement to be given simply to political leaders in both those societies and perhaps in others as well who saw the need for restraint, have preached it, and have practiced it?

Or, ought one to acknowledge that in the absence of knowledge, these heavily armed states might have restored the war, as others had done in 1914, with even more catastrophic consequences?

How much did the study of arms control, supported initially largely in the United States, create knowledge eventually shared with others that made all who possessed atomic weapons realize the hazards of their use? How much were the control systems, devised by the great powers, the intellectual inventions of scholars, men and women who understood that the new weapons were not simply more powerful than those that had existed before and would not be controlled by the legal procedures valued by so many in the inter-war years who constantly preached the necessity of disarmament?

In any tribute to peace- makers, the name of Ralph Bunche ought to figure prominently along with dozens of others. Known to have been foremost scholars, they have worked to develop and implement those ides that have recommended restraint. The institutions that have supported their research –recognising the imperative need for new knowledge-must also be recalled; these two, together precede the intellectual armament that so greatly helped to prevent war.

Knowledge through learning has helped greatly to shape the opinion of ordinary citizens, journalists, politicians, diplomats and academia, professors, who all felt an obligation to speak or write on the subject. The importance of that knowledge cannot be exaggerated; one may argue that it did much to prevent war.

Where such knowledge has not existed, where scholarship has been weak and fragmentary, journalism has been the mainstay of public opinion and the results have generally been less happy. While it would be an exaggeration to say that for example, the errors made in Vietnam through for U.S. presidential administrations – those of Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford-can be attributed principally to the paucity of knowledge in the United States of the societies of South East Asia; Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, or of the country’s inadequate understanding of the guerrilla warfare, such claim is not totally unreasonable. By providing instruction to both civilians and selected military personnel in the requisite languages, but more importantly in the politics, economics and culture of societies fundamentally different from the American, a major contribution was made to winning the war, but also, to a large extent in keeping the peace. The intellectual profit the U.S. has realised through this investment in education cannot be overstated. No comparable effort was made before the war, during the war, or since the war in South East Asia. It remains terra incognita for all, but a few experts able to claim learning in an area that today embraces hundreds of millions, if South Asia is seen to be integrally connected to it. (Stephen Graubard- Professor History Emeritus at Brown University). That ignorance is unfortunately replicated in other areas as well.

These are problems of the past that persist today. Looking at the world after September 11th -a world where the circumstances that prevailed after 1945 -yesterday’s defence solutions are not likely to be useful in resolving the twenty-first century’s crises. How can whole populations be instructed in the dangers that now impend?

Scholarship, one of the keys

Most answers to these dilemma presume a willingness to study the present and to learn from the past, not only the remote times of ancient Rome and Athens, or of nineteenth century France, Germany and the UK, but also of the 20th century United States. One needs to always know more about political and social systems, the fundamental differences in intellectual and moral capacities and concerns, but also, or moreover, about their intellectual and political understanding. For this, it is not enough to study war and peace. One must inquire closely into the ideas and values common in their time that made certain policies possible, and others unthinkable. What institutional innovations were attempted in the twentieth century, by whom, and with what success? How was public opinion changed, and with what consequences, and for whom? In short, at the moment, there is an imperative need to know the democracies of today, no less important, perhaps than learning about regimes, groups and individuals who for whatever reasons chose to threaten those democracies.

We have never been more privileged with respect to information; the urgent need today is to know how to use that information to devise policies to create again the sense of personal security and safety that so many once imagined nation states were in a position to provide. That knowledge is desperately needed and only institutions committed to social inquiry can stimulate individuals to produce it.

Today, we need these individuals more than ever. Going back to global security as one of the prerequisites of the development of our societies, we cannot foresee integration in the absence of it. We cannot foresee integration in the absence of the understanding of our role in the larger world. Romanians have been known to give as outstanding names to the world as any other nations, be it in culture, science or diplomacy. A nineteenth century Eminescu, just like a twentieth century Titulescu - to only state these two - have enriched their lives, and the universal culture and society through exchanging education and melting in the larger European scene, while leaving their most authentic contributions to the world. They are our foremost motivation.

 
 
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