During the Cold War, educational policy became a strategic and consequential avenue of soft power. Countries on both sides of the East-West divide developed travel and study exchanges to cultivate relationships with other countries, and to prepare future generations for work in an increasingly internationalized world. Despite supporting a fear of foreigners and isolating people from travel outside of the Communist bloc, the Soviet Union sponsored select students from other countries to study in its institutions of higher education.
This thesis aims to provide insight into the structure and events of the Czechoslovak foreign student program with the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1970. The goal is to exemplify how transnational education was used as a diplomatic tool for constructing a new Communist elite that would remain loyal to the continued expansion of the Soviet internationalist project. The Czechoslovak foreign student program shows how education took on a bureaucratically complicated, yet strategic role in the westward expansion of the Soviet Union. While not always successful in producing ideologically driven Communists that supported Soviet hegemony, this educational contact between the two countries is an example of how the USSR used soft power to lock in its control over the Eastern bloc.
Hackett, Emily, "Fostering Communist Elites: Cold War Czechoslovakia's Foreign Student Program" (2023). Slavic Studies Honors Papers. 9.
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The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.