From a Quinquennial to a Decennial
The Programme of Armenian Studies is an educational and academic organisation founded in London, which aims to promote Western Armenian and Armenian Studies. The organisation has been steadily flourishing since its establishment in September 2012. This success is thanks to the constant and unwavering effort on the part of its staff and friends.
The scope of activities
Though the geographical scope of the activities carried out by the Programme of Armenian Studies is wide, our online presence has made them accessible to all. We have been recording and uploading our lectures to our website since 2016, allowing all those around the world who are interested in Armenian studies to watch them for free. This year, for the first time, one of our lectures was broadcast live online. We wish to make this the norm in order to allow as many people to attend and participate as possible, making our lectures a platform where issues are discussed freely, and debates become simultaneous clusters of different voices between all those with an interest in Armenian questions, wherever they may be.
Since 2016, our Programme has carried out its activities within Armenian communities in various European capitals, by organising high quality Armenian Studies related lectures.
We believe that, with a clear and strong vision behind it, Western Armenian will survive. With our small workforce and limited financial means, we bring our modest role in spreading and strengthening the language. In this respect, we have taken two principal initiatives:
- Since its foundation, the Programme has offered Western Armenian evening courses. The year after foundation, we started to offer Western Armenian Summer Intensive Courses (now the main field of our activities) which take place in London every summer. In this respect, our Programme, unique in its kind, is in a leading position. People from all corners of the world take part – from the UK to France, Italy, and the USA, from Switzerland to Turkey (Please see more details below under The First Quinquennial).
- The Programme of Armenian Studies is the FIRST educational institution in the West to conceive and implement a new teacher training programme. This programme aims to send young blood from the West to Western Armenian-speaking communities in order to train as Western Armenian teachers. In September 2017, Adham Smart, one of our alumni, went to Beirut as our first candidate. There he will follow a special Western Armenian course, and, after his return to London next year, he will teach Western Armenian at the Programme.
What makes us different?
Our continuous efforts are directed towards making the Programme of Armenian Studies synonymous with QUALITY. In this respect we spare no efforts, and so we achieve unprecedented results. We believe in remunerated work; that is, we value work that is based on a professional rather than a volunteer basis, believing the latter to be the main enemy of Armenian initiatives. It is only through a professional approach that quality can be ensured. Thus, all of our colleagues are paid for their work, although unfortunately not always as much as they deserve. We consider this a rectifiable shortcoming.
Our first international success
Before completing its fifth anniversary, the Programme of Armenian Studies signed its first international educational and academic collaboration contract with the Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest. This serves as an indication of the growth of our Programme’s reputation.
Accountability and transparency
We consider accountability and transparency an infrangible moral principle. The Programme of Armenian Studies is one of the few Armenian establishments for whom the publication of its yearly accountancy is already an established order. It is essential for us to ensure the trustworthiness of our organisation. To view our accounts on our website, please click here.
We are proud
It is our deepest conviction that within any Armenian organisation, over half of its employees at least should have a knowledge of Armenian. We are proud to announce that all our employees have a knowledge of Western or Eastern Armenian, or are in the process of improving their language skills. This is one of our main demands; we believe in practising what we preach.
The aims of the Programme of Armenian Studies are not only short-term. With its gaze ever towards the horizon, the Programme moves in a clear direction; in other words, it is the result of a vision. We are determined to create a higher education programme within the scope of Armenian Studies, the main purpose of which will be to prepare a new generation of Armenian speakers – that is, future Armenologists, Armenian teachers, leaders, and others working within different fields of social life.
For us, impartiality has always been a leading principle. We believe that knowledge is not subservient to any ideology; it is a tool to help us make sense of the different aspects of our lives, which enriches and enlightens the circles we move in. The intellectual space that we intend to create will be a platform of interaction, collision, and an amalgamation of ideas, while arming students with the only intellectual weapon they need – critical thinking. We realise that our proposed target is an ambitious one, and that is why we take steady steps towards this goal. We believe that the implementation of every big project is the sum of many small achievements.
The First Quinquennial
During the first five years, we were busy creating an intellectual infrastructure. Western Armenian being the core of this educational program, our efforts were concentrated on creating language courses of quality. Our success in the beginner and intermediate level courses is undeniable. Today, we have two established courses with a clear structure in which we use our own textbooks. The beginner level textbook is almost ready for publication, the intermediate level textbook needs only a little more work, and the advanced level Armenian textbook is underway. The summer intensive courses are another important part of our work. These 100-hour courses run for a whole month and are offered at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. For more information about these courses please click here.
After fully establishing these language courses, we will expand the educational programme to include other topics in Armenian studies, including literature, history and culture. This last course of the series will be an Armenian proficiency course. Thereafter, we plan to begin a university summer course, which will be open to the public. The final step will be the creation of a higher education-equivalent certificated course in Armenian Studies.
2016 was a year of expansion for our activities. Stepping out of our traditional London borders, we opened up towards other European cities. Our first international event took place in Brussels in May of the same year. Last year, the second event of the same series was also held in Brussels, and the second in Munich. This programme has different purposes:
- Organising lectures of quality related to Armenian Studies, especially for those Armenian communities which are often deprived of such chances.
- Spreading Armenian Studies in the Armenian language, especially in Western Armenian.
- Introducing emerging Armenologists to Armenian audiences.
The Programme of Armenian Studies signed its first international contract in April with the Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest, according to which the Programme will take charge of the development and preparation of the Western Armenian and Armenian literature courses that will form part of a new masters programme in Armenian studies. The two sides will collaborate closely to work towards spreading Armenian studies in Hungary by organising lectures, conferences and exhibitions.
The previous five years have also been dedicated to the preparation of a workforce, as well as to administrative organisation and improvement. We have built an infrastructure on which our future base of activities will be built. In this respect, our second accomplishment was assembling and training a group of young and dedicated workers. The core of the organisation is made up of five people who have different responsibilities. The past years were the time of gaining work experience on a part-time basis. Here, it is important to remember that we have always endeavoured to turn individual efforts into collective work. We have a smooth working process, which nevertheless still needs improving. Despite limited financial means, we were able to create a working website, though this too needs serious improvement. We currently have eleven part-time employees in our organisation.
Implementation of our vision
For the implementation of our vision, we have the following schedule for our decennial target:
- Continuing the preparation of the advanced Western Armenian course
- Preparing an Armenian literature course
- Completing the establishment of the advanced Western Armenian course
- Starting the Armenian Literature course (modern)
- Starting the Introductory Armenian History course
- Establishing the advanced Western Armenian course
- Starting the History of Armenian Culture course (modern)
- Creating a summer university
- Preparing the Western Armenian proficiency course
- Armenian Literature course (ancient and modern)
- Armenian History (ancient and modern)
- The History of Armenian Culture (ancient and modern)
- Establishing the Western Armenian proficiency course
- Preparing for the creation of a higher certificate course
Over the past five years, the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has been invaluable. Without this support it would have been impossible to achieve all that we present to you today. However, the funding of this organisation should not only be the responsibility of the Gulbenkian Foundation. Some may believe that the Foundation’s support is sufficient and the Programme does not need more help – this is not the case! There is a grant limit for all foundations, and the Gulbenkian Foundation is no different. They have a great number of responsibilities, and the Programme of Armenian Studies is neither their only nor their main priority. We understand this well, and thus work within the means available to us. The support we receive is between a fourth or fifth of our expenses. However, we can do and give much more! The Programme of Armenian Studies does not exist to serve the Gulbenkian Foundation, but rather Armenian communities and the Armenian world. As such, supporting it is also your right. We make no secret of the fact that we aspire to expand much further, but this will be impossible without your financial help.
We do not have medals to decorate buttonholes․ We have a vision, and the resolute will and hard work that direct us towards this vision, which is the establishment and reinforcement of Armenian identity. This as a reward to your gracious attitude.
Why support us?
This is a valid question. The past five years have been a period of accomplishments for the Programme of Armenian Studies. Here are six valid reasons for supporting us:
- Support us because we have a developed and serious programme; we know what to do, why, and how to do it. We are directed by our vision, and our deep belief that Western Armenian and Armenian studies are the most important anvils for forging the Armenian identity.
- Support us because we have a professional attitude towards work.
- Support us because our efforts to open up to the world by including as many Armenian communities as possible have already borne fruit. We are the product of deterritorialisation in this period of globalisation. We are everywhere through our online presence. All financial support from Paris, Beirut, and Montreal is an investment in the communities of Athens, Aleppo, Yerevan and London.
- Support us because your support today will be an investment for the establishment of Armenian identity in your children, grandchildren, family and loved ones.
- Support us because we create infrastructure in the pan-Armenian sense. Armenian infrastructure has always been related to buildings and constructions, whereas our priority is to create and intellectual infrastructure of educational programs, workforce, educational literature, etc. This has so far been overlooked as an approach.
- Support us because we hold ourselves accountable for every penny you give us. We have very clear and unwavering moral principles.
What are we asking of you?
- Establishing scholarships for the Summer Intensive Courses
- Sponsoring the organisation of the lecture series
- Sponsoring the preparation and publication of textbooks
- Developing the website
- Sponsoring the organisation of lectures in different communities
How can you help?
- By establishing scholarships. This can be in the name of family members, commercial establishments, and other names worthy of remembrance. The yearly amount of a single scholarship is £1100.
- By sponsoring a lecture event in London or in any other European capital. The expenses for each event are around £1000-£1500.
- By sponsoring the preparation and publication of Western Armenian textbooks and other educational literature.
- By sponsoring to improve our website, the annual expenses of which are £1500-£2000.