The Open Society University Network (OSUN) is a new global network that integrates learning and the advancement of knowledge across geographic and demographic boundaries, promotes civic engagement on behalf of open societies, and expands access of underserved communities to higher education.


  • Foster critical thinking, open intellectual inquiry, and fact-based research to strengthen foundations of open society amid authoritarian resurgence
  • Educate students to address tomorrow’s global challenges by getting to know other societies from the inside
  • Expand access to higher education at a time of growing inequities
  • Counteract polarization by promoting global research collaboration and educating students to examine issues from different perspectives and advance reasoned arguments
  • Bolster efforts by universities in challenging environments to build their own capacity through global partnerships to make greater contributions to their societies

OSUN Structure




(United States)

Bard College, founded in 1860, is highly regarded for its excellence in liberal arts and sciences teaching and its innovations in bringing high-quality education to underserved communities. Bard is a leader in forging international partnerships and integrating civic engagement and the arts across its undergraduate and graduate programs.





The Central European University (CEU) is a graduate institution founded in 1991. Its mission is to promote open societies and democracy through advanced research and research-based teaching, primarily in the social sciences and humanities.



Institutions Participating in First-Phase OSUN Projects*


Al-Quds University/Al-Quds Bard College of Arts and Sciences (Palestine)
American University of Bulgaria
American University of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan)
Arizona State University (Unites States)
Ashesi University (Ghana)
Bard College Berlin (Germany)
Birkbeck: University of London (United Kingdom)
BRAC University (Bangladesh)
European Humanities University (Lithuania)
Fulbright University of Vietnam
Sciences Po in Paris (France)
SOAS University of London (United Kingdom)


Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (United States)
Chatham House (United Kingdom)
Institute for New Economic Thinking (United States and United Kingdom)
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (Austria)
Open Society Archives (Hungary)
Rift Valley Institute (Kenya)

*OSUN is actively in discussions with other potential partners that share its principles and academic ambition.


OSUN builds on the accomplishments of several major initiatives in higher education supported by the Open Society Foundations (OSF). In the 1990s, OSF’s Higher Education Support Program (HESP) effectively served as a Marshall Plan for higher education in Central and Eastern Europe. CEU, founded in 1991, became a unique model in graduate education, combining cutting-edge research and research-based teaching with a focused social mission.


Project Spotlight


Challenging Students to Examine the Ideas and Practices of Being a Global Citizen in the 21st Century

OSUN Network Courses are virtual international exchanges that unite students and faculty from several universities located in different parts of the world in the classroom, sharing faculty and conducting joint research projects in which people from many universities collaborate.


Empowering Young Leaders of Change

Student leaders from an international network of institutions gather every spring for a five-day conference at Central European University's campus in Budapest, Hungary. The Get Engaged Conference gives students the opportunity to develop community leadership skills and collaborate on solutions to local and global challenges.

OSUN Facts

What Is OSUN?

The Open Society University Network (OSUN) is a new model of global higher education. It will integrate learning and knowledge creation across geographic and demographic boundaries, promote civic engagement to advance open societies, and expand access of underserved communities to higher education.

Why is OSUN being created?

OSUN aims to educate students to address tomorrow’s global challenges. It will foster critical thinking and open intellectual inquiry to strengthen the foundations of open society amid the current authoritarian resurgence. OSUN will counteract intellectual monocultures and polarization by uniting institutions around the world in collaborative research projects and by encouraging students to examine issues from different perspectives and through reasoned arguments. In addition, OSUN seeks to address inequality by expanding educational access to neglected and minority populations, such as incarcerated persons, the Roma, and refugees.

Who will lead OSUN? And who else will be part of the network?

The Central European University and Bard College are co-founding OSUN, with the support of the Open Society Foundations, and will run the network. They will collaborate closely with a wide range of institutions, including universities, such as Arizona State University, American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan, Ashesi University in Ghana, BRAC University in Bangladesh, Sciences Po in Paris, SOAS and Birkbeck: University of London, and think-tanks and research institutions, such as the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Chatham House, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen. OSUN is actively seeking the participation of additional partners that share its values and principles.

What will OSUN do?

OSUN will integrate curricula, teaching, and research across partner institutions; embed civic engagement into the learning environment and the creation of knowledge to prepare students to become engaged citizens; create new pathways for underserved communities into higher education; and create a dynamic ecosystem of long-term partnerships that will generate innovation and amplify the impact of individual institutions.

Where will OSUN operate?

With a geographically and demographically global network, OSUN will stretch from Bangladesh and Central Asia to the Palestinian territories, from South Africa to Colombia, and from leading universities and research institutes in Europe and the United States to New York State prisons to inner city high schools in Baltimore and Newark to Syrian and Somali refugee camps.

When will OSUN start up?

The launch of OSUN was announced at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2020. OSUN programs will begin this year.

What makes OSUN distinct?

OSUN will consist of deep, long-term partnerships based on reciprocity, not vertical integration. Partner institutions will come together in their shared commitment to advance open society and address fundamental global challenges, such as inequality and climate change. They will integrate curricula, courses, and research initiatives across different countries and incorporate civic engagement into higher education. OSUN will thus create a vibrant network of diverse institutions, which will include think tanks, museums, and artistic and cultural centers.

What is OSUN's added value?

The Central European University and Bard College have succeeded in establishing long-term partnerships, integrating courses and curricula across academic institutions, promoting civic engagement, and creating pathways into higher education for underserved communities. OSUN will build on these successes by combining their elements in a single network, strengthening academic integration across partner institutions and achieving a truly global reach.

What impact is OSUN expected to make?

OSUN will endeavor to transform global higher education and make significant impact in communities around the world, including to:

  • Build a new model of global higher education
  • Cultivate a new generation of globally engaged citizens
  • Unite researchers worldwide to address global challenges
  • Expand the creation of knowledge for open societies
  • Create new pathways for underserved communities into higher education
  • Scale up opportunities for refugees to enter or resume university
  • Enhance the professional skills of K-12 teachers and university faculty to design and implement student-centered learning

How can philanthropic partners contribute?

Philanthropic partners may support particular programs, enhance OSUN's reach and impact in specific countries or regions, or collaborate with OSUN in building new programs via its unique platform of global higher education. OSUN co-investments can reinforce the commitments philanthropic partners have made elsewhere to advance their aligned missions.



Central European University
Phone: +36-1-327-3000
Email: osun-info@ceu.edu


Executive Vice President
Bard College
Phone: +1-845-758-7378 
Email: osun-info@bard.edu