European College of Liberal Arts in Belarus is a non-formal education project launched in 2014. The project team includes humanities specialists and social science representatives, contemporary art and theater theorists and practitioners, experts and intellectuals. The project became possible due to the teaching and research experience accumulated in Belarus and abroad by the majority of founders and project participants.
We were driven by a desire to create an alternative education space where it would be possible, together with students, to discuss current challenges and up-to-date texts, read author's courses, and carry out project and research activities.
Before ECLAB, in 2006-2014, we created and worked as editors and authors for “Novaja Europa” online-magazine, which aim was to intellectually europeanize Belarus. Issues of European identity and memory in Belarus, view on Belarusian society through the lens of gender studies, socially critical art as an agent of democratization were among the thematic priorities of the magazine.
Online activities were supplemented by holding public lectures and discussions. One of the most successful projects is a series of roundtable discussions "Dialogue of expert communities" (2008-2009), held in cooperation with ARCHE magazine and the website of the Belarusian expert community “Nashe Mnenie” ("Our Opinion").
In 2011 our team launched «European Cafe: open lectures and discussions» project, through which Belarusian audience had an opportunity to discuss issues of international policy, historical memory, mass media, education, gender and socially critical art together with recognized experts from EU, Russia, Ukraine and USA.
In partnership with photographers and artists, two exhibition and discussion projects were carried out: "Pioneer Exposure" (“Ў” Gallery, 2013) and "Radius of Zero. Ontology of Art Zeroes", which included the study of contemporary Belarusian art of the first decade of the 21st century, an exhibition in the space of the "Horizont" plant and the publication of a five-hundred-page collective monograph in Russian and English. The book was presented in Minsk, Kiev, Vilnius and Berlin.
In January 2014, with the support of the Goethe Institut, we held the International Week of Hannah Arendt in Minsk. The scientific activity of our team, carried out on the basis of the Center for European Studies, can be judged by a number of studies and publications, including: the collective monograph "The ways of Belarus' Europeanization: 4 between politics and identity construction (1991-2010)", "The Glossary of EU Terms and the Eastern Partnership ", the translation of two books by the Czech philosopher Jan Patočka. Also in 2011 an international conference "Jan Patočka and the idea of Europe" was held in Minsk in cooperation with the Belarusian Philosophical PRASTORA. In partnership with the Institute of Political Studies “Political Sphere” the Center for European Studies reviewed Belarusian scientific publications "Book Symptom".
The Liberal Arts model, according to which ECLAB works, has successfully combined the experience accumulated by our team in the field of research, contemporary art, intellectual journalism and teaching.