The Flying University is a public initiative aimed at developing the Belarusian intellectual and cultural space and at performing the role of the National University in Belarus:
- setting up the conditions and milieu for critical thinking and for the development of various thinking approaches, research schools and directions;
- creating the milieu for the formation of the national elite, i.e. persons having the knowledge, technologies and value systems needed for the development ofBelarus;
- elaboration, development and promotion in the public space of any ideas, projects and knowledge directed at the development of Belarus; and
- search and creation of innovations, formation of examples of quality for the contemporary Belarusian education sector.
The unique and innovative feature of the Flying University is that it does not reproduce the standard forms of educational sphere arrangements. We put an emphasis on customised, individualised and unique schools and directions of thought, as well as on the competing approaches and reflection of methodological thinking. We are implementing the mental set ‘Think Belarus’ and seek a wide publicity in promoting our ideas and programmes, while keeping firm to the self-organisation and autonomy principles.
The Flying University’s activities date back to 2009 when it arranged its workshops meant to discuss the ideas behind setting up the University and to contemplate its development programme in Belarus. The basic ideas set forth during the debate are reflected in the book The University: Discussions over the Basics by U. Matskevich and P. Barkouski.
Several pilot courses were started in 2010 in Minsk and Mogilev: “The Introduction to the Systems Approach”, “The Cultural Policy” and “The Hermeneutic. Reading the Bible”. In autumn 2011 the first annual curriculum of the Flying University was announced. The Minsk curriculum included 8 training courses related to the introduction to the intellectual and humanitarian practices, 6 courses on the momentous problems of Belarus and Europe, 3 practice-oriented empirical schools and the “Urbi et Orbi” public lecture cycle which embraced 16 speeches delivered by the prominent Belarusian intellectuals, scholars, researchers and civic and cultural activists. Classes were initiated in the provinces: in Mogilev and in Brest. In 2012-2013 the University curriculum was further expanded.
The partners engaged in the activities of the Flying University are various public associations and informal intellectual communities: the Humanitarian Techniques Agency, Centre for Social Innovations, Institute of Political Studies Political Sphere, International Consortium EuroBelarus, Educational Centre POST, Leu Sapieha Foundation, Legal Transformation Centre Lawtrend, Belarusian Philosophical Space, Belarusian Centre IKAMOS, Centre for European Transformation and the People’s School Ländliche Heimvolkshochschule Mariaspring.
The academic community of the Flying University includes over 20 intellectuals, scholars and researchers involved in delivering courses or holding workshops and seminars and up-keeping schools. Most of them have Candidate of Sciences or PhD degrees and teach at the state-owned or non-government tertiary level educational establishments of Belarus, Lithuania and Poland, such as philosophers I.Dubianetskaya, U.Matskevich, P.Barkouski and I.Babkou; political scientists V.Babrovich, А.Kazakevich and А.Yahorau; sociologists Т.Vadalazhskaya, A.Shelest and A.Lastouski; mathematicians N.Liavonau and A.Baradachova; and cultural studies scholars and cultural activists М.Anempadystau, S.Stureyka et al. Over 50 intellectuals, researchers and cultural activists take part in the public, scientific and discussing events staged by the Flying University (whether conferences, summer schools, public debates or public lectures).
The student community of the Flying University has been crystallised. Its hard core (some 70 persons) is made of permanent participants who are included in all the events and discussions related to the University development. Quite a fair share of them has assumed the functions of tutors.
The activities of the Flying University are rolled out along the following four tracks:
The Flying University education is aimed at the capability of organising thinking, actions and one’s own ego in a future situation. It is about mastering the intellectual work techniques and methods (analysis, criticism, orientation, projecting, etc.), awareness of the modern ideas and directions of thought, pasting one’s individuality (self-determination and definition of objectives) and communication practices.
The University-based cultivation of thinking includes the necessary components: problem statement at public lectures and debates or at panels and conferences; research and project developments undertaken within the framework of any research project workshops; criticism, method development and search for new solutions within the debatable clubs, seminars or schools and a further knowledge transmission to the new generations at the educational courses, lectures and workshops or through publications.
The University’s idea development. In parallel with the ongoing activities of theFlyingUniversity goes a further development of the ideas behind the University’s existence, reflection and criticism and search for new forms and formats of work. The organization of the University is flexible nature. Its specialised forms, such as University seminars, summer schools or Organizing activity games (OAG) , are used on a permanent basis for the purpose of the University’s conceptualisation and further development. This work is shared by the entire University community.
Publicity. A modern university is seen as a major formation and development tool of the nation and its culture. Our University proposes for public discussion and comprehension its ideas, knowledge, programmes and curricula. The public sites provide a testing facility as to the real value of the University’s output.
The Flying University space includes more than 10 various operational forms accessible to all the University community members.
Each person is free to determine its own trajectory within the Flying Universityas an individual educational or a chartered one.
The outputs of the Flying University in figures
Within the 3 years of programme implementation:
4 books have been published;
2 researches have been conducted;
6 public debates and over 30 public lectures (supported by their online broadcasting) have been held inMinsk,MogilevandVitebsk;
More than 30 topical, basic and seminar-style courses and schools have been delivered. Over 350 persons have been enrolled to the University as its students. Among them 100 act as permanent participants of various courses and workshops. The number of public lecture and debate auditors amounts to more than 600 persons from all overBelarus;
The Flying University’s website and its Distance Learning Platform are in operation and ready to provide to their visitors a online participation option;
The YouTube channel of theFlyingUniversityhas more 130 subscribers;
Three summer schools have been organised with their attendance totalling over 200 persons.
Formats of activity
The basic courses are intended for the formation of thinking discipline skills (for example, The Systematic Approach, The Introduction in Philosophy as Practical Thinking Organisation Facility, The Mathematics for Humanitarians and The Theory of Activities). The courses are delivered by renowned philosophers and methodologists.
The thematic introductory courses which cover the topical and substantive vectors of contemporary thinking (notably, The History of the Belarusian Thinking, The Anthropology of the Cultural Heritage, An Encyclopaedist: Lectures on the Wikipedia Editing, The Contemporary Inter-Disciplinary Approaches to the Studies of the Past, etc.).
The schools and workshops formed around the ’master’ in the intellectual and humanitarian practical experiences (for example, M.Anempadystau’s DESIGN! School, I.Dubianetskaya’s Biblical School, Game Technicians’ School, Non-Commercial Law School, et al.)
The seminars and discussion clubs as grounds for a deepened analysis into individual topics or issues (the Methodological Seminar, seminar The European Choice of Belarus: Democratic Institutes and Values, seminar Methods in the Socio-Humanitarian Research, seminar Imagination and the Social Theory, etc.).
The research and project teams which are set up ad hoc to cover specific scientific or practical topics. The University has provided a framework to conduct two studies: The Research into the Issues of Desovietisation and Problems of Resistance Posed to the Democratic Transformations (led by U.Matskevich) and The Dazhynki Post-Harvest Festivity in the Belarusian Towns’ Cultural Landscape Transformation (led by S.Stureyka). The relevant output has been presented in publications and reports delivered at scientific conferences and at the Belarusian Researchers’ Congress.
The University Seminar used for discussing the issues and objectives related to the University development. Since 2009 the seminar has focussed on the topics of University management, way of life, statutory affairs, educational arrangement forms, etc.
The Organizing activity games (OAG) provide a unique way to problematise and organise collective thinking. The Flying University development has been supported by two plays and a project session (a OAG method-based one): Developing programs and strategies to create a modern university in Belarus (2010), Flying University: the Development Management (2011) and Flying University Educational Concept (2013).
The annual summer schools targeting the communication development goals among the university community, as well as programmatic development of the Flying University. For three years in a row the summer schools have been crowning the University’s academic year. The schools are attended by the University community members (teachers, students and managers); intellectuals and cultural and civic activists are also invited to be involved in general debates over the problems faced.
The international PhD programme for Belarus, aimed for writing and defence of PhD theses in the EU countries (under the auspices of the Political Sphere Institute).
The conferences which formulate and discuss the burning issues of Belarus and Europe. In 2012 the first conference of the Flying University The Intellectual Situation in Belarus: Circumstances and Self-Determination of Thinking. Its materials have been brought in a special issue of the Political Sphere magazine.
The public lectures within the “Urbi et Orbi” cycle which attract cultural and civic activists, researchers and intellectuals who contribute their thoughts and ideas to the City and to the World. More than 25 lectures have been held in Minsk delivered by such prominent intellectuals and cultural activists as V.Akudovich, H.Sahanovich, I.Dubianetskaya, A.Manayeu, I.Dukhan, U.Matskevich, S.Khareuski, Z.Shybeka, S.Dubavets, А.Chubryk, etc. Each lecture gathered an audience ranging between 60 and 120 persons; these lectures were also broadcast on-line and recorded on video.
The problem-based public discussions are intended to discuss the most momentous and burning issues related to our country’s development. The discuss
ion framework has provided an opportunity to raise topics referred to contemporary thinking, development problems of history science and historiography, translation of intellectual literature and fiction, historic memory, etc.
The «Universitas Ludens» Publication Series is aimed at the development and promotion of the modern forms of thinking, propagation of the original philosophical concepts and at developing the present-day Belarusian thinking. The following books from the series have been published: U.Matskevich and P.Barkouski, The University: Discussion over the Basics and S.A. Matskevich, The Management of the Educational System: Theory and Practice of the Innovation Training of the Professionals.
The distance learning platform, provides additional options: online viewing of lectures and public events, the appeal to video and additional course materials, communication between teachers and students, distance education.
The Flying University on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/Flying.University/
Program coordinator of the Flying University: Tatsiana Vadalazhskaya, email@example.com, +375296754625