The Centre for Advanced Study Sofia is an independent Bulgaria-based platform for fostering outstanding, highly interdisciplinary and international research in the Social Sciences and the Humanities. A dynamic institution with an excellent record of international project management, since its establishment in 2000 the Centre has initiated, carried out or/and hosted 17 major international and interdisciplinary research projects, having supported the work of more than 299 researchers from over 25 countries. The quality of the academic activities and the selection of Fellows are ensured by an Academic Council comprising scholars of high international renown. The research conducted at CAS aims not only to cross, but to question disciplinary boundaries, national scholarly traditions, and conventional approaches thus allowing for innovative and challenging intellectual creativity at the highest level. CAS is a member of the internationally acknowledged network of "Institutes for Advanced Study" in the US and Europe, while its academic contacts encompass major European universities and prominent international scholars, thus providing its researchers with access to the widest pan-European academic networks in the field of the Social Sciences and the Humanities. CAS aims to attract young talents as well as outstanding senior scholars by offering institutional conditions conducive to innovative research, intellectual creativity and dialogue, thereby supporting the formation of new scientific elites. With its professional, lean and flexible management, CAS sets a best practice model for academic administration, and is a reliable partner for donors and scholars alike.The CAS vision is rooted in the belief that
CAS continues to define its profile as a vibrant and flexible institution with strong international and interdisciplinary orientation which sustains academic independence and freedom of research, scholarly excellence, and intellectual creativity. CAS seeks to foster this profile by combining independent research and collaborative cross-cultural enquiries. In cultivating its distinctive profile CAS strives to fuse stability and vigour, coherence and openness to new fields.Context
While being a member of the internationally renowned group of "Institutes for Advanced Study" in the US and Europe, CAS has developed in response to specific national and regional context-generated needs. Paramount among them are the drastically diminished influence of academia in the public sphere and the lack of intellectual agency to carry out authoritative critical self-reflection in the societies of the region. CAS seeks to be not only a "brain gain" institution but to emerge as an innovative force in the development of the academic potential on a national and international scale.
The countries of Southeast Europe are faced with the imperative to develop a new network of regional co-operation in order that academic and intellectual circles can actively contribute to the regional interchange and European opening and integration. There is thus a clear need to foster the production of ground-breaking knowledge and innovative ideas about the region, and to bring together scholars from different cultures and countries. More recently CAS has been gradually extending the scope of its comparative research from East-Central Europe and the Balkans towards the Black sea and the Near East to other European regions, such as Scandinavia, Iberia, etc. CAS research focus is to be defined by intersecting cultural-historical legacies, exploring comparative advantages deriving from the availability of regional expertise in certain fields, such as Byzantine, Jewish and Muslim studies. The latest two-year research initiative "Conceptual History of European Regions and Boundaries", which CAS set off in 2012, is illustrative of the pan-European scale which CAS feels capable to address. Such wide-ranging comparative approach is intended to provide the basis for effective international cooperation beyond the region of East-Central Europe and bring about a more encompassing European and global perspective.Profile
CAS provides financial and institutional support for post-doctoral qualification and for research programmes in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. By initiating and hosting collaborative multidisciplinary projects and inviting regional scholars, as well via its (thematically-) independent fellowships programmes, it helps to establish a viable intellectual network and promote practical academic collaboration between the countries of Southeast Europe. With the help of other advanced study institutes, national and foreign universities, and academic and cultural associations, it works to re-establish the tradition of intellectual communities and to facilitate open critical debate and exchange on a national and trans-national level. CAS operates as a principal hub of research and debates on the improvement of higher education and academic research in the country and the broader region and thus provides access to quality full-text databases and specialized literature via its electronic resource centre and library, and fosters local and international academic community-building via several dynamic online projects.Thematic Priorities
CAS is open to ideas and proposals from the entire range of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Its principal emphasis in research is in the following areas:
Since 2009 CAS has launched the Advanced Academia Fellowship Programme in two complementing modules: fellowships for Bulgarian scholars and in-residence fellowships for foreign researchers. This new fellowship programme ensures possibilities for conducting thematically-independent research in an international, inter-disciplinary environment - an approach which we believe will boost the excellence of local academic scholarship and its visibility on a supranational level. The Bulgarian module of the programme is funded by the America for Bulgaria Foundation, whereas the international module is implemented with the support of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.Additional Activities at CAS
In addition to granting fellowships and coordinating local and regional projects, CAS encourages the dissemination of knowledge through a variety of events - publication programmes, discussion forums and public lectures. CAS has set off a series of public lectures aimed at presenting the results of the Advanced Academia Fellows' research to a wider academic and interested audience. We expect that this public event, which is held on an annual basis, would help to significantly increase the local visibility of both CAS Fellows' work and the Centre itself. CAS also organizes Bulgarian and foreign guest-lecture series and workshops with the participation of leading senior scholars, international conferences and seminars, as well as cultural events, literary readings, exhibitions, etc. A special service is offered by the CAS Academic Gateway and the PhD Student Database - online academic communities and databases of scholars and doctoral students. The variety of international public events (workshops, conferences, guest-lectures, book launches, public lectures, etc.), is yet another venue for promoting the work of the Centre. CAS reports on its activities and achievements through the electronic publication of research series and disseminates information by maintaining an up-to-date reference library and providing free access for researchers and PhD students to quality full-text databases. CAS also takes on the task of building a bridge between the local and regional scholarly community and the academic diaspora working outside the region.