On March 9 European Humanities University (EHU) celebrated its 10th anniversary in Vilnius. This occasion was commemorated at the international conference “Opportunity for Societal Transformation through Education: The Case of Belarus” organized with the support of Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The focus of the conference – transformation of higher education institutions in humanities and liberal arts – caused wide attention among experts in the field of higher education from Belarus, European Union, United States and Russia. The reason for that is primarily the acceptance of Belarus to Bologna Process and European Higher Education Area. An adequate evaluation of the ways and methods of implementing Bologna educational model is of vital importance for the Belarusian higher education system, which lacks relevant experience and undergoes a crisis of post-totalitarian education system.
Since its foundation in 1992 in Minsk, it has been the mission of EHU to build a new vision of higher education, based on the humanities and liberal arts tradition, that can help young people make sense of the post-Soviet situation and provide new opportunities for students in the region. After its forced closure and relocation to Lithuania, EHU maintains its commitment to the essential principles of liberal education and academic freedom, while successfully implementing effective and innovative models into student education system.
Among over 70 invited guests were EHU leadership and members of academic community, representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania, Belarusian universities, as well as distinguished higher education experts: President of American Councils for International Education Prof. Dan Davidson, Policy Officer of the European Commission's Directorate for Education and Culture Kamila Partyka, Head of Konrad Adenauer Foundation offices in the Baltic States and Scandinavia Elizabeth Bauer, Deputy Director of the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education of Lithuania Aurelija Valeikienė and others.
“Bologna process is a door to human action, it offers tools of cooperation and embodies our best dreams and hopes”, said EHU Rector, Prof. David Pollick.
Prof. Dan Davidson, Vice-Chair of the EHU Governing Board added, “The major drives of EHU are its academic, economic, political and social missions, stated in the Strategic Plan 2016-2021. EHU was created to improve education, research and create new knowledge. It strengthens economic growth and innovation contributing to high employability of its students. EHU is a symbol free speech, academic freedom and democratic transformation. Through a core curriculum students learn to tackle global problems and form strong intercultural skills”.
Conference program was divided into two sessions and plenary discussions. The effectiveness of Bologna system and the challenges of Belarus’s integration into the European Higher Education Area generated a broad discussion among the conference participants. The unique 10-year EHU experience in Bologna process is exceptionally valuable for Belarusian universities, which will be forced to adapt to the requirements of European Higher Education Area. EHU leadership once again stated it readiness to be experts in the questions of integration into Bologna process.
During the second session the speakers and guests deliberated on how the intervention of liberal education enhances the societal changes and contributes to the sustainable development of societies.
“The task of each contemporary university is to form such worldview that determines the ability to think, comprehend yourself and your essence. Every liberal arts university should be a place for critical thinking”, – underlined Assoc. Prof. Valery Monakhov, Head of the Center for Liberal Arts Education at Smolny College (Saint Petersburg State University).
Over 1,600 students graduated from EHU since its relocation to Vilnius. The majority of EHU alumni returned to Belarus and are employed in areas that are related to the education received at EHU, namely law, tourism, design, communication, politics. EHU is consistently loyal to its Belarusian roots – over 95% of students and faculty descend from Belarus.