The Civic Education Lecturers Association (CELA) was founded on April 16, 2014. However, as a professional network, CELA has been around much longer.  In 2011, with the support of a USAID program within the framework of ITEP, IFES initiated a course on Democracy and Citizenship at 6 institutions of higher education in Georgia. Later, the course has been launched at other 28 Georgian universities. The need for the course arose as a result of a lack of civic education courses at Georgian higher education institutions. In four years, the teaching of the Democracy and Citizenship course has succeeded in raising civic engagement among the students through student projects and other related activities that have positively impacted local communities.

The civic education course Democracy and Citizenship uses theoretical and interactive methodology to introduce students to fundamental aspects of democracy, human rights, civil society, the rule of law, and civic action; well over three thousand students have completed the semester-long, fully accredited course. Legally established as an NGO in Georgia, CELA works to establish Georgia’s tertiary educational institutions as hubs for civic innovation, scholarship, and action. CELA’s mission is to grow and maintain a network of civic education lecturers and alumni; further develop the country’s current university-level Democracy and Citizenship course; strengthen civic competencies among students; and offer services and support in the field of civic education to interested parties in Georgia and the wider region. CELA provides professional development opportunities to university-level civic educators through trainings and academic conferences/journals, organizes civics-themed discussions and trainings for university students, and ensures the quality and sustainability of civic education at Georgia’s tertiary institutions for years to come. CELA regularly provides information on civics-related activities in Georgia, sharing course materials and expertise with members and other academicians, students, and the Ministry of Education.

Clearly, it is important to continue supporting this course at universities as well as to maintain and institutionalize the existing network of civic education lecturers in order to share knowledge and best practices to the wider public. In this regard, based on the existing contacts between the educators teaching the Democracy and Citizenship course, it was decided to form the Civic Education Lecturers Association. CELA unites lecturers from almost all Georgian institutions of higher education, which, in turn, can contribute to further growth and development of the Association.