From words to deeds

Konstantin V. Kozadaev,
D.Sc., Professor, Vice-Rector of BSU for Education and International Relations,
Belarus State University (BSU),

Alexander V. Zhuk,
Department of International Relations of BSU, Belarus State University (BSU),

Historically speaking, Belarus is located on the divide between Black and Baltic Seas watersheds, but has no direct access to neither of them. Nevertheless, our land has always felt the breath of both seas and the influence of cultures nurtured by these seas. Located in the middle of the ancient trade route “from the Varangians to the Greeks”, the ancestors of the contemporary Belarusians experienced all benefits of international communication and cooperation. However, this location had certain disadvantages: not a single major conflict between our militant eastern and western neighbors spared Belarus.

The Baltic vector has always been of particular importance to us. The Baltics is our closest high-tech region, ready to provide technology transfer and share sustainable development experience. Moreover, one of the most widespread theories on the origin of statehood in our lands mentions the invitation of the Baltic aristocracy with the aim to build a prototype of the first state. This is probably the reason why the universities of Belarus, a continental country having not an inch of sea border, take an active part in almost all scientific and educational initiatives of the Baltic states.

Belarusian State University (BSU) together with more than 90 universities in the Baltic Sea region is an active participant in the Baltic University Program (BUP) coordinated by Uppsala University (Sweden). The activity of the program is aimed at enhancement of education for sustainable development. BUP allows Belarusian students to feel the identity with the Baltic academic community. For example, one of the significant events of the program is the SAIL conference, which takes place on board the sailing-ship Frederic Chopin. During the annual sailing on the Baltic Sea, BSU students and young academics take part in a summer school where a series of workshops devoted to environmental and sustainable development issues is held. The scientific component of BUP, which supports research cooperation projects between the universities of the region, is equally important and related to the practical implementation of methods and technologies for sustainable development. For instance, the international project “Baltic Sea Region Climate Change Curriculum” is currently being carried out at the Faculty of Geography and Geoinformatics of the BSU, which is aimed at monitoring and forecasting climatic processes in our region. Joint research projects on ecological and chemical subject area are implemented now as well.

Since 2013, BSU has been a member of the Baltic Sea Region University Network (BSRUN), which unites 26 universities from the Baltic region countries: Finland, Russia, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Germany and Belarus. Participation in BSRUN allows BSU to intensify partnerships with member universities of the association, to establish the necessary contacts, as well as to implement joint projects of current focus.

In addition to cooperation within BUP and BSRUN, the Belarusian State University actively interacts with higher education institutions of the member states of the Baltic Sea region within the framework of more than 30 direct inter-university agreements. Thanks to them, there is a successful interuniversity cooperation in various areas: implementation of joint educational programs, academic mobility, joint participation in international educational and research projects, joint research and publications, participation in international educational, scientific, cultural and other events, etc. In 2019, 465 BSU students visited the Baltic region countries for educational and scientific purposes within the framework of this cooperation, as well as with the support of the Capacity Building in Higher Education tool of the EU program Erasmus+. More than 570 BSU academics also went to the countries of the Baltic region to participate in international conferences and workshops, conduct joint research, deliver lectures, share experience and undertake internships.

Joint educational programs and projects, implemented with partners from the Baltic region, are of particular importance for improving the educational process at BSU: Mittweida University of Applied Sciences, Molde University College, Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg, Lund University, Vilnius University, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and many others.

The variety of active educational and scientific contacts with the countries of the Baltic region allows BSU to act as a coordinating national center for the development of cooperation with educational and scientific centers in the Baltics. To fulfill this mission, BSU regularly organizes study workshops for the universities of Belarus, provides them with methodological and scientific support to involve a wider circle of the academic community of Belarus into the Baltic dialogue. Our strength lies in our diversity.

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