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Italian Week at Saint Tikhons University
On May 29, 2017, in the Conciliar Chamber of the main building of Saint Tikhons Orthodox University of the Humanities, the Universitys Italian Week was formally opened. This series of academic and cultural was dedicated to the tenth anniversary of collaboration between Saint Tikhons University and the Catholic University of Milan (University of the Sacred Heart or UCSC).

Archpriest Georgiy Orehanov, Deputy Rector for International Relations, gave the opening address on behalf of the Universitys chair, Archpriest Vladimir Vorobyov. The collaboration between our two universities is highly symbolic, since Saint Tikhons Orthodox University of the Humanities is one of the largest Orthodox universities in the world, and the Milan Catholic University is the largest private universities in Europe. Over the course of 10 years, the collaboration between Saint Tikhons University and the University of the Sacred Heart has been developing actively, especially in humanities subjects. Thus far over 100 students, including 39 from Italy and 32 from Russia, have taken part in exchanges between the two universities. On the whole, these have been students of Slavonic Languages from Milan and students of Romance Languages from Moscow.

On the first day of the Italian Week, as a part of the round-table on Teaching Romance Languages: Problems and Methods, teachers from both universities led discussions on how to teach Romance languages. The Catholic University of Milan was represented by Prof. Giovanni Gobber, Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature; Maria Cristina Gatti, director of the Language Center; Maria Teresa Zanola, a teacher from the Department of Foreign Languages; and Silvia Gilardoni.

Other participants in the round-table discussion included Prof. Irina Igorevna Chelysheva (Saint Tikhons University and Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Linguistics) and Roman Alexeevitch Govoruho (Russian State University for the Humanities), who gave short speeches, as well as teachers and both undergraduate and postgraduate students from Moscow universities (Moscow State Pedagogical University, Moscow State University).

More details can be found at: Russian version

On the first day of Italian Week there was a lecture on Dantes Divine Comedy, titled Dante and the Value of Poetry, in which Prof. Maria Teresa Girardi from Milan investigated the connection between Dantes poetry and the political, moral and spiritual functions of literature.

The final events of the first day included two public lectures by UCSC professors in the Conciliar Chamber. Prof. Marco Rossi discussed the secrets of humanity in Giottos works and Prof. Alessandro Rovetta examined the interaction of light and dark, history and reality in Caravaggios works.







On the second day of Italian Week, Prof. Giovanni Rossi gave a lecture on Family as a Societal Resource. This topic has a particular pointedness in relation to current polemics between supporters of the natural or nuclear family and its opponents, who consider that families hinder the development of an individuals social relations. Prof. Rossi examined the clash of these two views of the family in contemporary European society and came to the conclusion that the family is an unique social institution whose functions cannot be realized by any other collective organization.

Art historians from Italy and Russia held a round-table discussion on Concepts of the Sacred in Western and Eastern Christian Art. Prof. Marco Rossi gave a talk on Polemics about Sacred Images: Opposition between St. Gregory the Dialogist and the Iconoclasts. Prof. Rovetta talked about church art and architecture of the post-Tridentine period. Saint Tikhons was represented by Ekaterina Sheko, head of the Department of Iconography; Nina Sekacheva, senior professor in the Department of Theory and History of Christian Art; and Natalia Baganova, an assistant professor from the Department of Philosophy.

The second day of Italian Week was concluded by a public lecture by Prof. Gidardi Between Words and Silence: The Poetry of Clemente Rebora in the World War I Years. The Milanese poet Clemente Rebora (1885-1957) was one of the most significant figures in the renewal of Italian poetic language at the beginning of the 20th century. He was influenced, too, by Russian writers whom he translated from 1919-1922, first and foremost Gogol and Tolstoy.




On May 31, 2017, as a part of the annual Russo-Italian Forum, there were round-table discussions and lectures focussing on timely questions in ecology and teacher training.

UCSC Professor Pierluigi Malavasi gave a lecture on Teaching and Mercy: Environmental, Economic, and Social Ecology, in which he gave shape to his views on educational philosophy.

According to Prof. Malavasi, education should be aimed at having students develop a sense of responsibility for the environment. Humanity is being threatened by environmental degradation, and nature is faced with destruction. The challenges of modernity will force educators to inculcate people with the values of respect for nature and respect for the common weal. Natures belongs not only to us, but to our children, but today it is crying out due to pollution.

Further developing the pedagogical theme of the day, Francesco Braschi, Director of the Department of Slavonic Studies of the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana in Milan, gave a lecture entitled The Genesis of the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana and the pedagogical conceptions of Federico Borromeo. The Bibliotheca Ambrosiana, he said, is the oldest book repository in Italy and one of the very first public libraries in the world. It is a partner of Saint Tikhons University in translating the works of St. Ambrose of Milan into Russian.

A roundtable on Ecological Education: Open Challenges, attended by Prof. Pierluigi Malavasi (UCSC), Prof. Alessandra Vischi (UCSC), Archpriest Oleg Mumrikov (Saint Tikhons), and Pavel Skovortsov (Saint Tikhons), focussed on the role of the Church in preserving the environment.




This third day of Italian Week wrapped up with a public lecture by Prof. Vischi of the Higher School of Ecology of the University of Milan, Entrepreneurship, Education, and Ecological Upbringing: Work and Skills. The lecturer talked about the connections between economic activity, ecology, and social teaching work in contemporary European society.

The academic events of the fourth day of Italian Week concentrated on questions of philosophy and language.


At a seminar on Parallel Russian-Italian Textual Corpus and the Case of Gogols Greatcoat: Examples from the History of Russian-Italian Translation, attended by UCSC professors Anna Bonola and Maurizia Calusio, the possibility of appending a parallel Russian-Italian corpus to the National Russian Corpus were discussed. The materials to draw parallels between the two textual traditions were drawn from the history of translating Gogols The Greatcoat into Italian.



In his lecture Upbringing and Reality: Is it Possible to Bring Up Children in an Virtual World?, UCSC Professor Adriano del Asta stated that it was science that led man to be radically alienated from nature. After the quantum revolution in physics and its principle of indeterminacy, man was stuck with the idea that nature does not exist outside of the human consciousness. If, however, this is true, then reality is dissolved in our cognitive processes and people are not dealing with reality, but rather with virtual reality.



In the evening, a concert entitled Musical Treasures of Naples and Venice was held in the Conciliar Chamber of the main building of Saint Tikhons University. The attendees, gathered together below the vaults of one of the most unique halls in Moscow, listened to the Italian baroque music of Antonio Vivaldi, Giovanni Battista, Sammartini, and Tomaso Alboni, performed by the Golden Era (Zolotoy Vek) chamber group conducted by Alexander Listratov. It was directed by Favio Pirola, invited from Italy for the occasion.

On the fifth day of the forum, Prof. del Asta gave a lecture on the topic The Idea of Freedom as Spiritual Experience in the Thought of Semyon Frank.

Semyon Frank (1877-1950) was a Russian religious philosopher who left his mark on all areas of philosophy: ontology, gnoseology, ethics, and even aesthetics. His main interest was in combatting with two things threatening Russia in the early 20th century: terrorism and Marxism.

There was also a round-table on The Role and Meaning of Christian Universities in the Modern World. The attendees discussed the actively and problems of Christian universities. The event was attended by UCSC Professor Mario Gatti, Saint Tikhons Deputy Rector for Innovation Vladimir Alexeevitch Shmelyov, and Ivan Vladimirovtich Pavlyutkin, research assistant in the Laboratory for Sociology of Religion at Saint Tikhons University.

As Mr. Shmelyov put it, the very fact that a Christian university could exist raises questions in Russia to this day, meaning that discussing its role in its modern form is a step forward in the sphere of Russian education.

Prof. Gatti believes that the raison dêtre of any Christian university can be found in the joy of possessing the truth, to use the words of St. Augustine.

The official closing of Italian Week took place in the Conciliar Chamber. Saint Tikhons graduate Anatoliy Kanaev, who had taken par in the student exchange between the two universities, gave a presentation to the audience. After the concert, the director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Moscow, Olga Strada, thanked Saint Tikhons University for inviting the guests and organizing such an excellent and interesting program. I hope that we will continue our fruitful collaboration next year, Ms. Strada declared. Sharing experience is important in finding the right path, the golden mean that will allow us to develop our collaboration in all areas.

10 year of collaboration is a lot, and it neither came about nor was sustained by force. I think that all those who have worked together over the course of this decade have done a great deed in building up splendid relations that will encourage further joint work by teachers and students, UCSC Professor Mario Gatti said in turn.

I think that the meaning of this collaboration is much wider than we can fathom and extends far beyond what we can conceive, Prof. Gatti went on to say. It will only become clear many years ahead. I am sure that our collaboration will continue to develop this rapidly and actively in the future.

Deputy Rector Shmelyov thanked all those who had made Italian Week possible. I would like to give special thanks to the Italian Cultural Institute in Moscow who have supported this initiative and helped us to translate the lectures and discussions, Mr. Shmelyov stated emphatically. And, of course, I would like to thank all our colleagues from the Catholic University of Milan, all 15 professors who took part in the events of this week.

Drawing conclusions from the tenth-annual conference, the Deputy Rector of Saint Tikhons University for International Relations Georgiy Orehanov remarked, that Italian Week at Saint Tikhons has a very great importance owing to a number of circumstances. First, this conference is the occasion to sum up the conclusions of our 10-year collaboration and the huge quantity of ideas that could come into existence in the future in the form of joint projects. Second, the wide context of the event is important as is the attendance of experts from a wide range of areas: not only academia, but also the spheres of culture, diplomacy, and business, Fr. Georgiy declared. And the third thing may be the most important. The format of the events manifold meetings, roundtables, lectures shows us that it is possible to conduct such academic and scientific festivals regularly, for example, in the form of annual general meetings, open days actively attended by teachers and students, et cetera.

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