The CERGE-EI Teaching Fellows program was initiated in 2007, based on the belief of its sponsor that a "solid training in the functioning of market economies is essential to informing the public discourse and future prospects of developing nations." Many advanced economics graduate students and recent graduates in Central and Eastern Europe are eager to teach undergraduate economics courses if they do not have to make the excessive financial and intellectual compromises that are common to academia of the region. The CERGE-EI Teaching Fellowships offer supplemental income, preliminary training in classroom teaching (often lacking for university instructors), and extensive connections to the resources and affiliations at CERGE-EI, including personal mentoring by an experienced professor of economics. The value of these Teaching Fellows was immediately obvious, and each year an increasing number of undergraduate colleges and universities have requested to host Teaching Fellows.
The program targets three groups of potential instructors: (1) recent Ph.D.s who are interested in long-term academic careers in the region, (2) Ph.D.s who are employed by private industry or Central Banks and government ministries who can be enticed to teach on a part-time basis, and (3) advanced current graduate students. Designed to have a maximum impact on economic literacy, the program focuses on basic undergraduate courses at universities in the region. Participants are drawn from CERGE-EI students and alumni as well as students and alumni from other western-oriented programs in the region including the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET), the Kiev School of Economics (KSE), the Central European University (CEU) and the New Economics School in Moscow (NES).
In the first year, 2007-08, eleven CERGE-EI Teaching Fellowships were awarded. Most taught in undergraduate institutions centered in the Czech Republic, although one adventurous Fellow taught in the Kyrgyz Republic. The response from the teachers and the universities they served was overwhelmingly positive, and each year since, the program has expanded through by the generosity of an anonymous donor to include more Teaching Fellows serving more undergraduate colleges and universities. By the end of Spring 2012, over 28,861 undergraduate students from 39 institutions in 11 countries will have participated in 470 modern market economics courses taught by over 100 different CERGE-EI Teaching Fellows, some of whom have been teaching all five years.