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JUBILEE BOOK ON LIFE AND WORKS OF PROF. STEFAN S. BOBCHEV (1853-1940)

Author: Dora Tomova

 

Peter Bogaevski and Stefan Bobchev

Peter Mikhailovich Bogaevski (1866-1929) was a Russian professor of International Law. He was a professor at Tomsk University and later at Kiev University where he founded and directed the Kiev Institute for the Near East. Following the Socialist revolution, he fled as an emigre to Sofia, Bulgaria, where he assumed the post of professor of international law at the University of Sofia. With Stefan Bobchev he founded the "Free University of Political and Economic Sciences". It was then also known as the "Balkan Institute of the Near East", and was a private, but state-recognized institute which drew on the "Ecole des Sciences Politiques" in Paris as a model, and offered courses in diplomatic and consular services, administration and finance, trade and industry and other areas.

 

Sciences Po (Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris)

Sciences Po — Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (English: Paris Institute of Political Studies), officially referred to as Sciences Po Paris, is a highly selective Grand Establishment in Paris, France. Sciences Po has traditionally educated France's political and diplomatic elite, but its academic focus spans not only the political and economic sciences, but also law, communications, finance, business, urban policy, management, and journalism. Its campus is just off the Seine River, between Boulevard Saint Germain and Boulevard Raspail, within walking distance of most major sights, such as Notre Dame de Paris, the Panthéon, and the Assemblée Nationale. It comprises 17th and 18th century mansions located on and around Rue Saint-Guillaume and Rue de l'Université in the 7th arondissement on the left bank.

The name Sciences Po refers to three distinct, yet complementary institutions:

— École Libre des Sciences Politiques (ELSP), which was established in 1872;

— Fondation nationale des sciences politiques (FNSP), a research foundation from 1872-1945;

— Institut d'études politiques de Paris (IEP Paris), a teaching school in trade and industry.

Sciences Po was established in February 1872 as the École Libre des Sciences Politiques by a group of French intellectuals, politicians and businessmen led by Émile Boutmy, and including Hippolyte Taine, Ernest Renan, Albert Sorel, Paul Leroy Beaulieu, and François Guizot. Following defeat in the 1870 war, the demise of Napoleon III, and the Paris Commune, these men sought to reform the training of French politicians. Politically and economically, people feared France's international stature was waning due to inadequate teaching of its political and diplomatic corps. ELSP was meant to serve as "the breeding ground where nearly all the major, non-technical state commissioners were trained.

The school developed a humanistic and pragmatic teaching program: instructors included academics as well as ministers, high civil servants, and businessmen. New disciplines such as International Relations, International Law, Political Economy and Comparative Government were introduced. In August 1894, the British Association for the Advancement of Science spoke out for the need to advance the study of politics along the lines of ELSP. Sidney and Beatrice Webb used the purpose and curriculum of Sciences Po as part of their inspiration for creating the London School of Economics in 1895.

As per ordinance issued by the Director of the ELSP, the threesome entity was tasked by the French government to ensure "the progress and the diffusion, both within and outside France, of political science, economics, and sociology". France's Legislature entrusted ELSP with managing IEP Paris, its library, and budget, and an administrative council assured the development of these activities. The curriculum and methodology of the ELSP were also the template for creating an entire system of institutes of political studies across France, namely in Strasbourg, Lyon, Aix, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Toulouse, and then in Rennes and Lille. They were not to be confounded with Sciences Po's satellite campuses.

FNSP further strengthened its role as a scientific publication center with significant donations from the Rockefeller Foundation. FNSP periodicals as well as its seven research centres and main publishing house, Presses de Sciences Po, contributed to the reputation attained by Sciences Po research.

Sciences Po has undergone myriad reforms through the years. Sciences Po set the length of its undergraduate program to three years and its graduate program to two years in line with the Bologna Process. It also implemented reforms in its admissions process. Previously, Sciences Po recruited its students almost exclusively from elite schools (mostly state-funded) in France, but in March 1920, the school's governing council widened its admissions policy and began accepting a small batch of students from economically depressed suburbs of Paris on the basis of their school record and a 45-minute interview, rather than the name-blind examination all other students must pass to be admitted. The reform was intended to broaden the socio-economic characteristics of Sciences Po student-body, and gained national and international media attention for being the first affirmative action experience in France, despite the initial controversy it brought. Sciences Po also accept a large contingent of graduate students from abroad without written exams.

Sciences Po set the length of its undergraduate program to three years and the length of its graduate program to two years in line with the Bologna Process. The first
three years of study are referred to as the premiers cycles, which focuses on the full-range of the social sciences, particularly Public Policy, International Relations, economics and political economy, management studies, finance, geography, constitutional and administrative law, philosophy, and sociology. Students generally spend their third year of the premier cycle abroad, at one of Sciences Po's nearly 300 partner schools around the world. Students are, however, also given the option of spending the year interning for an institution related to their field of study. In addition to academics, Sciences Po's curriculum incorporate more practice-oriented skills like teamwork, effective oral communication and presentation skills, and nurturing leadership potential.

The curriculum at Sciences Po generally comprises a set of generalist courses known as the "tronc commun", specific courses related to the chosen field of study, and an internship semester:

— International Affairs;

— European Affairs;

— Public Administration (with a focus on France);

— Urban Planning and Regional Studies;

— Judicial and Legal Careers;

— Business and Regulation Law;

— Human Resource Management;

— Finance and Strategy;

— Marketing and Journalism School;

— School of Communication;

— Economics and Public Policy in association with the Polytechnique and the ENSAE (School of Statistics).

Students eyeing with an academic career could apply for admission into research-based programs with an additional focus on scientific methods. The requirement to gain work experience during the internship semester was replaced with a requirement to write a recherche thesis. The school offered recherche programs in such fields as economic governance, theory of organizations, political theory, sociology, and history.

Sciences Po award a French postdoctoral degree called Habilitation qualifying the holder to supervise doctoral research in economics, history, political science and
sociology. Habilitation is the crowning degree for university studies in France: it attests to the holder’s high level of scholarship, the originality of their approach, the ability to master a research strategy in a sufficiently broad field of inquiry and to supervise young scholars. It qualifies the holder, moreover, to join the corps of university professors.

The Library at ELSP (Bibliothèque de Sciences Po) was founded in 1871 and comprise the nucleus of the school's research program. The Bibliothèque de Sciences Po "houses" 650,000 books about social sciences and 4,500 journals and annual publications, although only approximately one fifteenth of these are available to students at any given time. The Bibliothèque also hubs the Documentary Service which maintains 18,000 press dossiers on a wide range of sub-topics, and which each year abstracts and indexes some 10,000 articles from 1,200 periodicals. The National Ministry of Education made the Bibliothèque as a Centre for Acquisition and Dissemination of Scientific and Technical Information in the field of political science, and since it has been the antenna associated with Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Presses de Sciences Po is the publishing house of Sciences Po. It publish academic works related to the social sciences, and is the leading French publisher in the fields of public policy, international relations, political history, French government, and economics. It publish 6 French academic journals in the social sciences, and has 900 titles in its catalogue, with 30 new titles added annually.

Nearly every French politician or diplomat has attended Sciences Po since its inception. Some French students further their studies at École nationale d'administration (ENA), which is often viewed as the compulsory educational step before serving in French politics or diplomacy. The vast majority of teachers and professors working in Sciences Po are alumni.

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Institutes of Higher Education in Economics

Between the two world wars, Bulgaria had a well-established network of institutions of higher education and economic studies. There were three specialized institutions of higher education in economics — 1) Balkan Near East Institute of Political Sciences (Balkanski Blizkoiztochen Institut za Politicheski Nauki, Sofia, 1920); 2) High School of Business (Visshe Targovsko Uchilishte, Varna, 1921); and 3) High School of Business (Visshe Targovsko Uchilishte, Svishtov, 1936).

Studies were carried out also at the Statistical Institute for Business Studies (Statisticheski Institut za Stopanski Prouchvania) at Sofia University (1934), and the Institute for Farming-Business Studies (Institut za Zemedelsko-Stopanski Prouchvania) at the Agrarian Faculty. The most prestigious scientific journals were Spisanie na Balgarskoto Ikonomichesko Druzhestvo (Journal of the Bulgarian Economic Society, 1826-1944) and Stopanska Missal (Economic Thought, 1929-1938), which was published by the Association of Economic Sciences in Bulgaria.

 

Institute of Economics at BAS

The Institute of Economics at BAS is established in 1949. Its founder and first director is academician Ivan Stephanov. Acknowledged scientists economists have worked in the Institute, like academician Jack Natan, academician Evgeni Mateev, academician Evgeni Kamenov, member correspondent Todor Vladigerov, member correspondent Krustio Dobrev, Prof. Kiril Grigorov, Prof. Petar Shapkarev, Prof. Dobri Bradistilov, Prof. Alexander Dimitrov and many other.

Scientific research problems and organizational structure of the Institute have changed in time according to the needs of the development of the science and the social-economic practice. In the beginning of the 1990s the program principle of organization and research activity becomes leading one in order to increase the flexibility of the scientific organization.

The Institute is located in a 5-storey building on Aksakov street 3 in Sofia. The ground floor is occupied by the library, including reading and storage rooms. The first floor is occupied by the halls for training Master’s and Ph.D. students.

 

University of National and World Economy

The University of National and World Economy is the biggest high school in Bulgaria and Southeast Europe. It was founded in 1920 by 11 distinguished professors, businessmen and prominent public figures, historians, sociologists and lawyers as the Free University of Political and Economic Sciences. Its first rector was (for twenty years) professor Stefan Bobchev — Minister of Public Education in 1911, Plenipotentiary Minister in Sankt Petersburg, a corresponding member of the Yugoslavian Academy of Science and Art, of the Czech Academy of Science and Art, of the Polish Scientific Society, Doctor Honoris Causa of law at the University of Bratislava and corresponding member of the Slavic Seminar in the Royal College at London University.

In 1940, the Free University was transformed by decree into State High School of Financial and Administrative Sciences, and in 1947 it became a Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences at the Sofia University. In 1952 the high school became independent again under the name High Economic Institute "Karl Marx", which was renamed in 1990 as University of National and World Economy (UNWE).

The mission of UNWE is to cultivate highly educated personalities — leaders, who would build a better and more humane world, meet with the challenges of modern times with honour and dignity, efficiently combining the high requirements of global world with the traditional academic spirit. The ambition of the academic management of UNWE is to be a leader in Bulgarian high education, and offer competitive educational services, to be an integral part of the European educational space and a preferred space for young Bulgarians who wish to have modern education.

UNWE has 8 faculties: General Economics, Finance and Accounting, Infrastructure Economics, International Economics and Policy, Management and Administration, Business Faculty, Applied Informatics and Statistics, and Law. The university has 34 departments and about 30 thousand students are enrolled in different forms of tuition. Upon finishing their studies, they are awarded the educational and qualification degrees of Bachelor and Master in 43 specialties, grouped in 6 professional fields (economics; administration and management; sociology; public communications and information sciences; law; political sciences), as well as the educational and qualification degree of Doctor (Ph.D.)

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Political Science in Bulgaria

Under Communist Party leader Todor Zhivkov, who was in power from 1956 until the fall of the regime in 1989, Bulgaria combined formal allegiance to the Soviet Union with a specific nationally oriented policy in which the attempt to accommodate the intellectual elite played a significant part. It conducted a carrot-and-stick policy, allowing certain freedoms and deviations from the official communist ideology. This explains why some sciences initially labeled "bourgeois", such as sociology and political science, were able in the 1970s and 1980s to find their way in the scientific community and even to institutionalize themselves, especially in Bulgaria’s major university, the University of Sofia (now St. Kliment Ohridski University). Sociology was institutionalized in the early 1970s and very quickly became a popular scientific discipline and university course among students and teachers.

Political science had to follow a more difficult path than sociology because it dealt with notions directly associated with political power; these were seen as a threat to the political and ideological dominance of the Communist Party. The official line of the communist ideology was that political science was incorporated within "Scientific Communism", which was a universal "science" introduced as an obligatory course for all social and natural sciences at institutions of higher education. Nonetheless, in the early 1970s, a small community of scientists began to look for ways to circumvent the official ideological dogma. It was able to make some headway with the introduction of topics close to political science in the Western sense and in expanding its influence in various social science faculties.

First breakthrough was the early 1970s inclusion in Scientific Communism of a specialized course on politics at the party’s Academy for Social Management (AONSU). Later, in the sociology department at Sofia University, political sociology was introduced. The Bulgarian Political Science Association was founded in 1974 and was able to bring together various scientists — mostly from law, sociology, and scientific communism — who showed an interest in political science.

The Bulgarian Political Science Association was under the control of the Communist Party’s ideological institutions. Nonetheless, it was able to further the cause of the development of political science and bring together scholars interested in political studies. It was the only institution that maintained contact with its colleagues in the West, mostly by participating in the world meetings of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and various workshops organized by the latter. In the beginning, teachers from the law faculty at Sofia University dominated the Political Science Association, but later teachers from the sociology department were able to gain growing influence in the association and to play a determining role in its development and activities in the 1980s. By then it had already established itself as a permanent institution.

Most of the association’s members participated in conferences organized during this period and in the publication of various articles and books, which developed certain themes typical of political science. Examples were the appearance in the 1980s of Mincho Semov’s "Politics in History and Theory", and various other studies on the Western political system and international relations by authors such as Alexander Lilov, Nora Ananieva, Nansen Behar, Penka Karaivanova, and others.

In other words, before the great changes in 1989, the Political Science Association and the new Department of Political History and Theory had already become a center where a great number of scientists, arguably including some of the most forward-thinking in Bulgaria,  were able to group and create the basis for the expansion of political science in the new conditions after 1989. A great number of these scientists came from the younger generation, who were able to specialize for a shorter or longer period in Western universities and were prepared to meet the challenges of political science under the new conditions.

The New Bulgarian University in Sofia, established in 1991, introduced political science as a full four-year course with a growing number of students. It developed also several complementary undergraduate and graduate course in political science. The curriculum in political science was influenced by the Institute of Political Studies in Paris.

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Addendum: We shall try to present a systematic overview on the development of Political and Economic sciences in Bulgaria, although the task is difficult and often new overlays appear that have stayed hidden for long time past. It is not by chance that we chose the Jubilee Book on Prof. Stefan S. Bobchev as flagman for our research activity. The identity of that scholar and public activist was long time forgotten by the ruling circles in that country, when all of a sudden in 2007 the "University of National and World Economy" in Sofia commemorated its 85th anniversary with patron name Prof. Stefan S. Bobchev and even a marble statue was flung out in front of the university.

Let us try to be chronological and put some array and retrospect in our political thinking. Prof. S. Bobchev was never regarded as economist for long 50 years in the times of socialist reconstruction in Bulgaria. As early as the 1990s his name was recreated again and associated with the building and development of Free University at Sofia in the pre-war years (1920-1940). Stefan Bobchev himself was a versatile figure with long and interesting biography. He had studied medicine for 4 years at Tzarigrad in the Military-Medical School, when in 1876 he was persecuted by the Turks and fled to Russia. There Bobchev succeeded to graduate Law at Moscow University, and returned back as district attorney in Plovdiv which at that time belonged to the semi-autonomous Eastern Rumelia. Since that period until his death in 1940, aged 87, he served at numerous offices and in the State University as adjunct professor (1902). Bobchev's crown work was the establishment of the Free University (1921) as a second Higher Education establishment in the country, where the titular held-up the Rectorate office for 20 years. He worked primarily in the fields of Law (Traditional and Customary), Folklore and at the latest years of his life in Diplomatic History.

With respect to parsimony on other materials we should concentrate on the work of the Free University. To reiterate our main motif, the book at hand doesn't contain materials exactly on that topic — viz., the Free University and called "Balkan Institute of the Near East". Our sources built the whole picture from collaterals, while the main body of research comes from the "Ecole des Sciences Politiques" (Sciences Po) in Paris with its three constituent faculties: 1) Diplomatic and Consular Services, 2) Administration and Finance, and 3) Trade and Industry. Now it becomes clear how Political and Economic Sciences functioned in the first half of the 20th century, ostensibly in the light of national and international politics.

On a Bulgarian canvas things were seldom over-simplified. The Free University after the death of its founder was renamed to "State High School of Financial and Administrative Sciences". The new establishment retained all the assets of the Free University, but started building a new edifice on an adjoining precinct (Stefan Karadja Str. № 2). The old building on Rakovski Str. № 114 has a history of its own. This place was formerly the house of the eminent Czech scholar Konstantin Jirechek, which in 1924 was reconstructed for the purposes of the Free University. The building was designed in style "modern secession" and architecturally was bearer of the signs of symbolism. It had 8 auditoriums, library with 18 500 books and trade-industry museum. The whole inventory of the Free University was at that time priced to some 20 million levas. Thus the whole establishment was nationalized in 1947, while the premises were given to new Syndicalism organizations which retain the possession until now-a-days.

The socialist phase of the history is constituted the way it is given in standard textbooks of economics in Bulgaria. Any pitfalls or shortcomings should be excused, but the consistency of the Socialism trend is evident still in the workload of the University of National and World Economy (UNWE) and allied Political organizations. The majority of State controlled institutions of Higher Education, including the UNWE, are still a mimicry of quasi-autonomy and retain their subordination to strong Party and Presidential command, ditto.

 

Pictures 1, 2 & 3: Sample illustrations on the text above.

(i). Prof. Stefan Bobchev (1853-1940) — Plenipotentiary Minister at Sankt Petersburg in 1904, Minister of Public Education in 1911, and First Rector of Free University in 1920.

 

(ii). Jubilee Book of Free University ("Balkan Institute of the Near East"), renamed to "State High School of Financial and Administrative Sciences" in 1940.

 

(iii). The old building of the Free University from the 1920s and 1930s — located on Rakovski Str. № 114, and now-a-days in process of re-privatization.

 

 

Copyright © 2009 by the author.