The Second Decade of BISLA

The Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA) is entering the second decade of its existence. Its program offers education that is distinct from most bachelor degrees in Slovakia and Europe. The focus is not only on content, i.e., what is taught, but also on the method of teaching and the physical setting of our campus. Students study, in English, a variety of subjects in small groups and engage in extracurricular activities and internships in order to encounter the depth and breadth of educational experiences characteristic of liberal arts studies. The success of BISLA can be judged through the success of its alumni who study and work around the world.

BISLA did not emerge suddenly and has an important institutional pre-history. In the decade before its foundation in 2006, BISLA’s founders had administered SHL/VVS, an institution that provided a tutorial system and small seminar setting for a select group of university students from around Slovakia. Hence, it was natural that SHL/VVS transformed into an accredited liberal arts college thanks to its educational know-how and experience. Our encounter with the liberal arts and the existence of BISLA would not happen without generous help from and cooperation with the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation (CAJEF, currently The Endeavor Foundation). The Endeavor Foundation has been instrumental not only through its continuous financial support, but also thanks to its essential advice and consultation, in particular with the President of the Foundation, Ms. Julie J. Kidd.

Also, it was clear from the beginning that BISLA could not remain a school alone because it intended to have only a small number of students (below 100). Its mission thus has been to expand its activities. In 2006, BISLA founded the Bratislava Institute of Humanism (BIH), which organizes public discussions and lectures. It publishes Kritika & Kontext, a journal of critical thinking published in Slovak and English. BISLA has also become a hub of liberal arts education thanks to the Slovakia-based, Europe-wide foundation European Consortium of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ECOLAS), which is based at BISLA and currently has around 25 members. This network organizes a variety of activities and provides small research grants for educators around Europe working in the field of liberal arts. Finally, BISLA is also proud to be a member of of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance (GLAA), a worldwide network of liberal arts institutions within.

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