Tyumen historians spoke about the evolution of Russian universities

October 02, 2019

The 1st Conference of the International Academy of the History of Science took place in Athens, Greece on September 12-15, 2019. Scientists from all over the world gathered in the National Hellenic Research Foundation to discuss different aspects of the history of science and technology. Among the participants of the conference were Alexander Sorokin, the head of the Department of Russian History, head of network research center 'Man, Nature, Technologies' at Tyumen State University and Assistant Professor Mikhail Gribovsky, a senior researcher at the 'Man, Nature, Technologies' network research center, associate professor of Tomsk State University.

Modern universities undergo considerable changes while combining educational and scientific functions and executing both on the highest level. Each university professor makes a huge contribution to the cultural capital of a whole country and thus increases its competitiveness. Therefore, it is important to study the methods of organization of science and innovation in universities, which vary in different regions of the world. The majority of existing research works cover western practices and ignore the experience of Russia and many other states. Specialists point out the lack of studies that would summarize the history of Russian academic research or describe its regional peculiarities. These issues were discussed at a symposium lead by Alexander Sorokin. The symposium was held as part of the RFBR grant, project No. 18-39-20008 "University community of Western Siberia as the basis of the intellectual capital of the territory and the driver of socio-cultural and economic modernization of the country in the XIX-XX centuries."

The participants of the symposium discussed the development of science at the universities of the Russian Empire, USSR, and modern-day Russia in view of social, political, and economic transformations the country was undergoing from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 21st century. Besides the development dynamics, the symposium identified and analyzed regional academic peculiarities by means of studying a number of interconnected issues such as the social function of universities (or their so-called third role, along with scientific work and education). This topic was discussed in the presentation by Mikhail Gribovskiy. In his speech he also emphasized socially beneficial activities of the academia and its contribution to the self-administration movement at the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century.

Besides the third role of universities, the historians considered the impact of science on the development of the country and the region and general and dwelled into the experience of academic communities working outside the central part of Russia. In his presentation Alexander Sorokin analyzed the historical dynamics and identified the peculiarities of scientific research development in Tomsk universities during the Soviet years. He emphasized the changes in scientific work and research paradigms associated with large-scale social and political changes of the 20th century.

According to Alexander Sorokin, the most important result of the conference was networking and establishing contacts. "Within the framework of our project with the Russian Foundation for Basic Research we managed to find colleagues that were interested in our studies and to agree on our next steps". A team from Japan asked the Tyumen historians to prepare a special issue of a professional journal on the history of science and technology and invited them to work on joint research projects in the future. The suggestion was made after the presentation by Alexander Sorokin. In his speech the scientists emphasized different options and methods of establishing international collaboration that were used by Soviet scientists even though the conditions of their work were much tougher than today (due to slow communication and control by state authorities). The report was made at the Russian-Japanese symposium "International Contacts of Soviet Science".

"The history of science, technology, and higher education is a prospective area of interdisciplinary research that unites both professional historians and specialists in other scientific areas. We believe this type of collaboration helps us accurately restore our past", said Mikhail Gribovskiy.

University of Tyumen

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