(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not an official Fulbright Program blog; the views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What am I doing in Romania?

I received a Fulbright Lecture Award to teach Fall and Spring semesters at Babes-Bolyai University, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. I will teach courses on NGO program development, professional ethics, and techniques of family therapy. In addition, I will convene a one-day conference for local NGOs at the university.
I hope to teach conceptual tools to analyze local NGOs, help them develop a strategic plan for greater sustainability, increase collaboration among NGOs, and thereby improve services for children and families.
The Need: Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the assassination of their dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, in 1989, Romania has made many efforts to develop institutions of civil society. The EU economic aid in the late 1990s, the John Stewart Mott Foundation grant in 2000-2005, and the World Learning Romania civil Society Project in 2005-2007 sought to provide guidance and support for the 50,000 registered NGOs in Romania. After all this external funding ceased, few NGO Resource Centers survived. Once they entered the EU in 2007, philanthropy has been harder to come by. Consequently, NGOs must be more deliberate in showing the effectiveness of what they do.
The Project Activities: The overall goal is to provide conceptual tools that can advance sustainable social services, with a particular focus on services for children and families. I will be teaching 5 courses, 3 in the Fall and 2 in the Spring:
Systems of Care for Children and Adolescents: Students will learn how to use a Logic Model to analyze the goals, resources, activities, and effectiveness of several local NGOs. We'll do field trips and have guests from local NGOs talk to the class about their programs.
Ethical Issues for Social Service Professionals: I am using a textbook that gives an overview of major philosophical ethics, such as consequentialism, utilitarianism, deontology, ethical egoism, virtue ethics, and applies their insights to social services.
Evidence Based Treatment for Adolescents: We will look at risk factors for US adolescents and evaluate if those risk factors are relevant for Romanian youth. We will look at empirically validated treatments for difficult youth, again to evaluate if they think it will work in a Romanian context.
Participatory and Applied Research Methods: Fancy name for how to evaluate the effectiveness of a program that you are involved in. They'll learn how to do needs assessment, asset mapping, impact analysis, performance indicators, and focus group research.
Marital Therapy: I will present John Gottman's marital research and clinical techniques and discuss if they think it will work in Romania. We'll translate many of the assessment and intervention tools that he uses.
NGO Consensus Conference: Most of the courses will analyze what is going on in local NGOs. At the end of the spring semester, the plan is for the university to host a conference that will build collaboration between the university and the NGOs and help with strategic planning, share best practices, and build coalitions among organizations of similar mission. The Scholarship of Application are scholarly activities that link knowledge and expertise in the university with needs in the community. I hope to get to know my faculty colleagues and learn what their specializations are that the NGOs need to know.
Outcomes: Published reports of what Romanian NGOs need indicate that most of the attention has been on legislation, funding sources, and capacity building. This project offers resources "downstream" at strategic planning (2 courses), treatment (2 courses), and ethical professional practices (1 course). So students should develop some competencies in therapy techniques and strategic planning that they can use in NGO employment. By the end of the grant, I hope to have a document that lists the mission, program activities, resources, and effectiveness of every NGOs in the area, sort of like a United Way Information and Referral Center. In addition, the NGO Consensus Conference seeks to build a collaboration between the University, as a knowledge center, and NGOs as consumers of that knowledge. I also hope to introduce NGO leadership to faculty members of the university who have areas of expertise that they can use.
The Challenges: The biggest challenge is that I don't know Romanian. Many of my experiential learning activities involve going out to the community to set up field trips, and networking with NGOs to be resources for students' learning. I am planning to get a language tutor before I get an apartment. I hope that I can learn enough Romanian to make friends with the people who I will need to be successful.


  1. Hello Dan,

    If you need any Romanian language resources other than those that Babes-Bolyai University can provide, I recommend Bridge Language Study House for their competent and certified programs and instructors. Check them out at:


    I'll be in Cluj in October and November - perhaps we can meet then.

    Best wishes!


    Rodger Mattlage
    Lincoln, MA

  2. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll contact them.