The HIPS participates in and supports a variety of initiatives within the domains outlined above. Such initiatives include:
I. Harmonia Center—
In the wake of the 1989 post-socialist East European systemic transformation—the marketization of the centralized economy—the HIPS conducted sociological research on production and property changes in Wielkopolska, the Western province of Poland. Based on the published research conclusions, pointing to social cleavages, early forced retirements, or unemployment of whole segments of the local population, the HIPS subsequently initiated a project in a local community of the region.
To counteract the social fragmentation of the community that stemmed from broad and deep economic changes brought by the post-socialist reforms, the HIPS has undertaken the complex restoration of a 19th century mill in Tarnowo Podgorne, near Poznan (the Wielkopolska regional capital), with the aim to convert it into a community center.
The HIPS has engaged in the fundraising and labor for the restoration of this unique historic site in the community, with a dual goal. First, in the context of the current preference for investments in properties and products regarded as new, modern, and predominantly for individual consumption, the HIPS seeks to save a historical structure that was left for years in disrepair. In doing so, the HIPS aims to revive the site’s history in the local social consciousness, highlighting the community’s continuity and strengthening local pride. Second, the HIPS intends to adapt this historic place for regular social use—to create a shared public space designed to bring all the segments of the community together in an informal way, and to house social programs for groups at risk of marginalization. The name for this building—the Harmonia Center —reflects our aspirations behind the restoration and adaptation of the building.
II. Symposia and collaborative work with the local government and universities—
The multiple challenges—legal, administrative, logistical, financial— that we have faced in the restoration of the Harmonia Center have prompted the HIPS to initiate a dialogue with the Tarnowo Podgorne county government (gmina), Poznan UAM University, and Poznan Polytechnics in search of a new approach to address the restoration and adaptation of Wielkopolska’s other historic sites that are still in disrepair, at a time when social surveys indicate an unmet need for meaningful social spaces. In February 2015, the HIPS organized a symposium with the local government and addressed the county assembly a month later, proposing changes in local spatial planning and zoning that would improve administrative infrastructure and facilitate the engagement of social entrepreneurs in the restoration, protection, and ongoing social utilization of local historic sites, not as individual projects but as parts of a coordinated network actively assisted by the local government. As a concrete step toward this objective, the HIPS established two-semester internships, engaging students from the Poznan Polytechnics and the Poznan UAM University to produce a comprehensive inventory of the Tarnowo Podgorne county historical sites combined with an architectural/functional utilization plan for these sites as public spaces that fulfill the social needs of, and integrate, local community members as well as attract outside visitors.
The Two-day conference between HIPS and the Tarnowo Podgorne county government on social cohesion and spatial planning, based on final architectural projects of 80 students from Poznan Polytechnic, concluded with a brief informal visit to the Harmonia Center that is currently under renovation by the HIPS.
III. Reshaping the Sociology Discipline in Post-Socialist Polish Universities—
This initiative is run by the HIPS in connection with the Poznan Sociology Institute, Poznan UAM University, and aimed at empowering young sociologists. The HIPS participated in a series of conversations between faculty and students within the preeminent sociology department in Poland, to generate a shared vision of the administrative and substantive changes in running sociology departments and developing the sociology discipline in Poland necessitated by the fall of socialism. The HIPS organized these discussions as face-to-face two-week exchanges within the framework of small conferences between Polish students of Poznan UAM University and American students from Haverford College. The results of these exchanges were published in Poland in a book, Sociology in the 21st Century, financed by HIPS.
IV. Cooperation between the ISA and The Haverford Institute of Public Sociology—
The new president of the ISA, Margaret Abraham, has identified as a key priority of her tenure ISA’s further globalization through its membership and research agenda. She has committed to support young sociologists from the world periphery in their efforts to overcome barriers to their participation in the ISA global exchanges. She has espoused a strong research and action agenda with an emphasis on addressing social injustice, inequality, and marginalization, including gender and geographic gaps, across the globe. In tackling these vast and complex issues and seeking to guide social change, she has committed the ISA to interdisciplinary and inter-organizational collaboration.
The ISA’s agenda closely aligns with the mission and the activities of the HIPS. In 2015, the ISA’s Executive Council approved cooperation between the ISA and the HIPS. The HIPS is committed to support the goals of the ISA and its president. In particular, the HIPS is committed to raising the ISA membership among the periphery’s young sociologists and to addressing issues of marginalization and social justice. Specifically, the HIPS is committed to supporting the ISA president’s priorities, within the next two years, by enhancing the institutional capacity of ISA and working to eliminate barriers to the effective participation of young sociologists from the periphery. Thus, the HIPS plans to seek grants that would strengthen ISA financially and help ISA map sociologists from marginal countries. In addition, the HIPS plans to grant $500 to 10 young sociologists from Central European countries to defray the costs of their attendance at the 3rd ISA Forum in Vienna in 2016, and organize and run two workshops for young sociologists from Central Europe. For more information on the travel grant click here.
HIPS Travel Grants for Young Sociologists to the 3rd ISA Forum in Vienna
The ISA PhD Lab 2017
As a part of the cooperation with ISA, the HIPS hosts this year, together with the Institute of Sociology of the UAM in Poznan, young sociologists from all over the world. For a week in September of 2017, the finalists of the world-wide competition for the best dissertation projects, will arrive in Poznan, to engage in a collective constructive critique of each other dissertations, to get to know the research projects of their host institutions, to meet local governmental and non governmental actors, and to explore local cultural scene and develop group ties.HIPS hosts