University of Sofia Erasmus International Teaching Exchange June 2015
By Dr Graham Manville
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral by Night
This year is the second year of the UEA/NBS Erasmus link with Bulgaria’s Leading university, the University of Sofia, St Kliment Ohridski. As well as being Bulgaria’s no 1 university, it is in the top 4% of universities in the world which is pretty impressive given the country’s emerging economic status.
Graham established this linkage during his time at the University of Southampton after meeting an academic in an informal networking session in a conference in Vicenza, Italy in 2009. He was soon introduced to the founding Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (FEBA), Professor Chobanov, the current Vice Dean of the faculty, Associate Professor Teodor Sedlarski & Associate Professor Miroslava Hristova, the MBA Course Director. Since joining UEA in 2013 he has maintained the relationship whilst handing over to colleagues in Southampton. Professor Lorraine Warren, from Southampton University attended their annual Entrepreneurship conference in 2013.
This year Graham made three presentations to colleagues and PhD students at FEBA. Two lectures were related to his research into Leadership and Housing Associations. One of his papers: The “Bedroom Tax, Benefit Reform and Localism: Leadership Challenges in Housing Associations within England and Wales” has recently been presented at the European Institute for Advances in Management (EIASM) 10th Third Sector Conference at the University of Edinburgh last month.
His third lecture was about the new UEA Enterprise Centre and the potential collaborations between NBS and Adapt Low Carbon Group such as the business breakfast series.
Graham also discussed exciting possibilities for collaboration on EU Horizon and Interreg bids between NBS and Adapt Low Carbon Group. In addition he plans on learning more about their international student society AISEC which would be very beneficial to our student societies and the UEA Bulgarian Society . Professor Chobanov and Teodor Sedlarski plan on visiting NBS in November during Global Entrepreneurship week when they will have an opportunity to meet other colleagues from NBS and UEA. Graham aims to develop a stronger relationship with UEA and Sofia University to stimulate entrepreneurship by a tripartite relationship between the UEA Enterprise Centre, NBS and Sofia Universities nascent Hi –Tech Business Centre.
Graham with Teodor in the Vice Dean’s Office. Left to Right: Dr Graham Manville and Professor Teodor Sedlarski.
Professor Sedlarski is the primary link between Sofia University & the University of Harvard’s Business School Course on Strategy and Competitiveness. This requires him to visit Harvard Business School in the USA once a year and he is pictured below, next to arguably one of the world’s most eminent thought leaders on competitive strategy, Professor Michael Porter.
Teodor on his annual visit to Harvard Business School. Left to right: Professor Michael Porter, Professor Theodor Sedlarski, Dr Christian Ketels.
From a cultural perspective, Bulgaria is an exciting place to visit. It is steeped in tradition with a long history dating from Thracian times to its accession to the EU in 2007. EU membership has brought investment and their metro system is ultra modern with polished marble floors and rapid transport from the airport to the bus and railway hubs. In contrast to some negative stories in the press, here are 10 things that may surprise you about Bulgaria:
- Bulgaria created the Cyrillic alphabet before it was adopted by Russia
- The oldest city in Europe, older than Rome and Athens, is Bulgaria’s 2nd city, Plovdiv!
- Nodding your head means no in Bulgaria and shaking your head means yes
- Bulgaria has the second largest number of mineral springs in Europe after Iceland
- The world’s oldest gold treasure was discovered in Bulgaria
- Marco, the grandfather of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was a Bulgarian refugee
- In the capital city of Sofia, there is a free walking tour of the city every day at 11am.
- Sofia has a hotel with a Roman Amphitheatre which is exhibited to guests and media.
- The impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral domes in the picture contain 8Kg of gold plating
- Sofia, whilst under Roman occupation was known as Serdica, the gateway to the Byzantine Roman Empire.
Top: University of Sofia, St Kliment Ohridski and bottom: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral