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Debating Europe at the Faculty of Philosophy

Updated: Jun 15, 2022

During the Autumn semester 2021-2022 Europe was a topic of debate at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad. As the country paves its way towards EU membership - Serbia officially applied in 2009, it learns about EU policies and practices, and introduces them as part of the integration process. Within many administrative integration steps, some of the core issues remain at the margins so we attempted to bring them back to the centre. For that reason, we debated about European identity, cultures of Europe, role of University in a society, digital inequalities and European public sphere.

Our Faculty marked the 67th anniversary on 1 December 2021 by organising the Sixth International Interdisciplinary Conference for Young Scholars in Social Sciences and Humanities – CONTEXTS which was held online. The FFE project hosted the lecture held by dr. sc. Goran Pavlić from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, on the topic of the University of tomorrow – Between autonomy and service learning. Dr. sc. Goran Pavlić, Assistant Professor and Vice-dean for International, Interfaculty and Interuniversity cooperation of the Academy of Dramatic Art of the University of Zagreb, Croatia. The conference was attended by more than forty young scholars and doctoral students who gathered for a day of interdisciplinary dialogue and cultural exchange.

The lecture presented a brief overview of the idea of the university’s autonomy, its genealogy in Enlightenment’s programs and the significance of this concept today, on one hand, and service learning on the other hand, which is, being a growing paradigm in contemporary educational policies, often considered to be the very antithesis of the university’s autonomy. The case of the newly developed MA program “Performance in Context” at the Academy of Dramatic Art, University of Zagreb which will be launched in the academic year 2023/24 was presented with the focus on the juxtaposition between the two mentioned concepts as the constitutive background even for new, innovative programs.

Our second debate focused on the topic Construction of a common European identity, and it was led by dr. Aleksej Kišjuhas, associate professor at the Department of Sociology from our Faculty. The lecture, held on 20th December 2021, presented and analysed the concept of identity from the perspective of classical and contemporary theoretical sociology, to open the space for conversation about the possibilities and significance of a common European identity. As concluded, the (European) identity is connected with the processes of social construction of cultural heritage, but also with the so-called deep culture, power relations, and human emotions.

Continuing in this direction, the third debate was held on 21st December 2021 by dr. Pavle Sekeruš, professor at the Department of French Language and Literature, Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, who addressed the topic European identity – new old concept. Can Europe, as an entity that seeks to unite peoples whose identities have been crucially shaped by the heritage of Judeo-Christianity, Rome and Greece, produce a European identity? Can a federalized European community provide a path to overcome the states of nations born of war and for war, centralized and often totalitarian? What is the place of culture in the construction of European identity? – were some of the questions we discussed with the students.

(Im)possibility of establishing a European public sphere was the topic of our fourth debate, organised on 22nd December and led by dr. Jelena Kleut, associate professor at the Department of Media Studies from our Faculty. The debate started with the presentation of key definitions of the public sphere as the basis to ask a question: to what extent is it possible to talk about the European public sphere? Different policy instruments and programmes of the EU were also discussed. It was concluded that normative postulates of the media functioning in European countries are currently confronted with the trends of narrowing media freedoms in some countries, including Serbia.

The final, fifth debate was about Digital inequalities and it was held on 23rd December 2022 with key speaker dr. Dušan Ristić, associate professor at the Department of Sociology from our Faculty. He and the students discussed the basic dimensions of digital inequalities, which raise questions about opportunities for access to digital technologies, issues of digital skills development, literacy and the use of these technologies and, finally, the consequences of the use of digital technologies. The main topic of interest was how digital inequalities affect social development and democracy

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