International Forum "Universities, Society and the Future of Mankind" held at Moscow State University

By Vestnik Kavkaza
International Forum "Universities, Society and the Future of Mankind" held at Moscow State University

The "Universities, Society and Future of Mankind" international forum was held yesterday at the Moscow State University. Half thousand participants and guests attended it, and about a hundred of them were from foreign countries and international organizations. Organizers positioned the event as contribution of the MSU to understanding of phenomenon of higher education in the global world.

Three plenary reports were delivered during the forum by vice-president of the Russian Union of Rectors, chairman of the Council of Rectors of the Volga Federal District, and president of the Nizhny Novgorod State University, Roman Strongin; head of the Moscow State University's branch in Baku, professor of the Moscow State University, academician of the Russian Academy of Education, Nargiz Pashayeva; rector of the Sofia University (1973-1979), chairman of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1988-1991), honorary doctor of the Moscow State University (1977), Blagovest Sendov; There was also a video presentation prepared by Japanese politician Yukio Hatoyama (Japan).

Rector of the MSU, Academician, President of the Russian Union of Rectors, President of the Eurasian Association of Universities, Viktor Sadovnichy, opened forum with a report on past, present and future of global intellectual traditions that gave rise to classical science, systems and institutions for accumulation and transfer of knowledge. Viktor Sadovnichy analyzed global trends in the development of higher education, outlined the role and place of Russian higher education in the world educational process. He stressed that history of the MSU as a cradle of national university community is extremely rich and includes stories of many people and their accomplishments.

Rector of the MSU spoke about challenges facing humanity and highlighted readiness of universities, which have best intellectual forces, to respond to those challenges. According to Sadovnichy, the first global challenge is that due to increase in number of Internet users and other informational and communicational technologies, universities are now required to fully master digital space and fill it with reliable information.

The second global challenge is associated with environmental issues. Citing the words of Academician Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, Viktor Sadovnichy noted that people are directly responsibile for common future of all the Earth’s ecosystems. Science and education also face serious task, since they have to study brain and nervous system in order to search for ways to create artificial intelligence systems.

Victor Sadovnichy outlined space as the third global challenge. According to him, development of astrophysics has already led mankind to realization that only 4% of the world around us is relatively well-studied - baryonic matter. According to academician, the rest of the universe known to us consists of dark energy and matter, and this situation creates fundamentally new problems for humanity, requiring search for new ways to resolve them.

Viktor Sadovnichy quoted the poet Andrei Voznesensky’s lines on fundamental anthropocentricity of scientific search: “All progress is inhuman if man collapses,” calling for development of university humanitarian education that can balance inevitable moral and spiritual imbalances through attention to art, culture, history and language.

Rector of the Moscow State University also spoke about mission of universities in society, stressing that they are pushing boundaries of knowledge, bring joy to human communication, change the world and us in this world.

Nargiz Pashayeva's report was dedicated to educational tasks of harmonious development of students' personality. "Thank you for invitation. Educational issues have many aspects. At first it may seem like all recipes of management of educational process have been created long time ago, but it's not true. While it may seem like everything is clear and simple - we must accumulate knowledge, pass it on and evaluate - but how to achieve the main result, the point when acquired knowledge enriches and enlightens the minds of people? In other words, how to learn, to prepare not just specific specialist, but a person with moral principles?" Nargiz Pashayeva said.

"If we look at this issue in historic context, we will clearly see processes where not just knowledge became the first impulse and basis for future work, but also strong conscience, strength of reason and morality. In Soviet times, philologists used artificial methodology of social realism for years. Soviet literature's optimism principle hid not only fake scientific formulas, but also a doctrine, which distorted young minds and made old thinking uncompromising. There were still many obstacles for those who thought and wrote differently, because the world that was created by distorted theoretical knowledge didn't affect just literature. This distorted knowledge influenced consciousness of millions, and only decisive influence of travelers, scientists free from ideological dogmas and methodologies have created balance that no one could break," she stressed.

“Will we be able to correctly manage consciousness of the masses through knowledge and education? It's a difficult question, and the answer to it must certainly be positive, otherwise knowledge will lose its main meaning - the power that should provide peace, dignity, well-being and faith to society. Skeptics may call these higher principles naive and inefficient. It's no secret that sometimes thoughts like this attract an army of like-minded people. The most difficult thing in the educational process is to prevent modern education from becoming cynical. Pragmatism, human nature, personality are the main factors affecting the quality, reliability and functionality of in educational process," Nargiz Pashayeva said.

Roman Strongin noted in his speech: “The world won't become simpler, and it will grow faster. In this new world, the importance of universities increases significantly. At the same time, the need for adaptation to new needs, including significant development of cooperation networks, is also growing.”

Blagovest Sendov spoke about the issue of ecology: "At the beginning of the last century, artists depicted smoke in their pictures. At that time, smoke was a symbol of progress. Some time had to pass to realize that pollution that follows this progress threatens human existence."

First president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, rector of the University of Valencia, Maria Vicenta Mestre Escriva, rector of the Tehran University, Nili Mahmoud Ahadabadi, secretary general of the Association of Arab Universities, Amr Ezzat Salama, rector of the Freiberg Mining Academy, Klaus-Dieter Barbkneht, and heads of universities of the world also participated in the event.

During the forum, academician Viktor Sadovnichy announced creation of nine scientific consortia under the Vernadsky program, which envisages creation of scientific and educational associations focused on development of scientific schools, applied research, development and implementation of comprehensive programs for development of mineral reserves in the regions. Memorandums on this program were signed with the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region, the Moscow Region, the Republic of Tatarstan, the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic and other regions.

Acting head of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic Kazbek Kokov said that "signing of these memorandums will serve as powerful basis for development of scientific potential of the whole country and, of course, our republic in particular, which will later benefit the people and the region’s socio-economic development."

After panel discussions on the topics “Historical Role of Universities in Scientific, Educational and Cultural Development” and “University and Global Challenges of the Modern World”, Congress of the Russian Union of Rectors was held, at which Viktor Sadovnichy, rector of the Financial University under the government of the Russian Federation Muhadin Eskindarov, rector of the Pacific State University Sergey Ivanchenko, rector of the Voronezh State University Dmitry Endovitsky and rector of the Ulyanovsk State University Boris Kostishko gave their presentations.

Then the Congress of the Eurasian Association of Universities was held with participation of Viktor Sadovnichy, rector of the Eurasian National University Yerlan Sydykov, rector of the Belarusian State University Andrey Korol, rector of the National University of Uzbekistan Avazzhon Marakhimov and rector of the St. Petersburg State Economic University Igor Maximtsev.

In the evening, participants of this forum saw performance of orchestra and soloists of the State Academic Mariinsky Theater under direction of Valery Gergiev.