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The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is extremely concerned over legislation proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary that would place onerous restrictions on and, in effect, shut down Central European University in Budapest. Mr. Orban, who has vowed to wipe out liberal values in Hungary, recently issued legislation requiring all foreign universities in Hungary to have a physical campus in their home countries; CEU is accredited in New York but has only one campus, in Budapest.
The school, founded and funded by philanthropist and financier George Soros, was established in 1991 at the collapse of communism to train scholars and others in the building of open societies that respect human rights and adhere to the rule of law. The graduate school currently has 1,440 enrolled students and 370 faculty from more than 130 nations, and grants degrees accredited in both Hungary and the United States. CEU has a stellar international reputation for teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities. Its faculty has won prestigious awards in fields as various as medieval studies, network and cognitive science.
In the words of President and Rector Michael Ignatieff, CEU stands “for open minds and open frontiers at a time when political forces of anger, exclusion and closure are in the ascendant.”
Mr. Orban is himself a recipient of a Soros scholarship to study at Oxford in 1981, and the beneficiary of international scholarly and cultural exchange. AAA joins its voice with many others in calling for the immediate withdrawal of this legislation and for allowing CEU to remain a beacon of academic freedom throughout Europe and, indeed, the world.
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Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with 10,000 members, is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.