WiP: Nutsa Kobakhidze on Academic Freedom in Georgia

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils are pleased to announce the 17th talk of the Spring/Summer 2023 Tbilisi Works-in-Progress series!

The talk will take place in hybrid format in-person at CRRC Georgia and online through Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/…/tZwoduCvqT4tHdAGN3nttE…

“Navigating the Challenges of Academic Freedom in Post-Soviet Georgia: De Jure Declarations, De Facto Realities”

Nutsa Kobakhidze, University of Hong Kong

Date: 19 July 2023, at 18:30

Post-Soviet universities inherited heavy past with ideological pressure, censorship, government control, top-down management style and the absence of a notion of academic freedom. In Georgia, the question of academic freedom has come to the fore only after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Both Constitution of Georgia and Georgian Law on Higher Education stipulate the principals of academic freedom, however, the official declaration does not always coincide with actual practices.

This presentation is based on a paper “Less USSR, more democracy please!”: Hope and discontent in Georgia’s quest for academic freedom” published in Higher Education Quarterly in 2022. The study itself draws on document analyses, including laws and regulations, government reports, ministers’ decrees, various reports from non-governmental organisations, think tanks and media archives. The findings of the paper reflect how academic freedom is understood in Georgia and two major threats to its exercise in universities, namely, interference from external politics and internal managerialism. We argue that academic freedom as a concept does not yet have its own place in Georgia’s higher education system, protected de jure but with different de facto realities. The presentation will shed light on how Soviet legacies of self-censorship, hidden mechanisms of control and a culture of conformity continue to create tensions inside universities and an environment in which academic freedom cannot flourish.

Nutsa Kobakhidze is the Director of the Comparative Education Research Centre and an Assistant Professor in Comparative and International Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong. She is the programme coordinator for the M.Ed. in Comparative and Global Studies in Education and Development. Her research interests include privatization of education (focus on private tutoring), comparative and international education, teacher professionalism and identity, and methodologies of large-scale international assessments (e.g. PISA). Nutsa’s works have been published in well-regarded international journals and she is an author and co-author of books published in Georgian, English and Burmese. Nutsa holds BA and MA degrees in Philosophy from Tbilisi State University, a Master’s degree in International Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, USA and PhD in Comparative Education from the University of Hong Kong.

Works-in-Progress is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place office of CRRC at Liziko Kavtaradze St. 1 and online. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public.

In observation of the spirit of the Chatham House Rule, the talks will not be recorded, and we courteously request that the other participants refrain from recording and/or distributing recordings as well. The opinions expressed in WiP talks are those of the speakers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC, ARISC or of American Councils.