The SUSU Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities is a bright illustration of the fact that the region’s leading university has incorrectly gained a reputation as delivering only technical specialists and as a driving force in preparing only engineers, builders, and programmers. In this institute, which joins together the forces of the faculties of journalism, history, and psychology, strong social scientists are born. Successful journalists, philologists, advertisers, psychologists, political scientists, art historians, archaeologists, sociologists, and even theologists come from this institute.
On May 24th, representatives of these professions who skillfully wield words celebrate a professional holiday – the day of Slavic Writing and Culture. Is it true that the ISSH does not take state exams? Why do projects thought up by students of this institute become popular and well known in the region and outside of it? And how skillful are degree-wielding specialists with words? The director of the ISSH of South Ural State University, Elena Ponomareva, tells us.
Philology is the science of language. Understanding this term literally, you can unpack its meaning thusly: “I love words.” And since words are the universal means of communication, you can bravely state that the sphere of application for the knowledge of a specialist with a humanitarian degree is very broad. In the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities they prepare these kinds of specialists – in-demand, adaptive, erudite. The motto of the SUSU ISSH – “We know man’s limitless possibilities”. And this is no exaggeration.
The key to quality education
In the educational processes in all faculties who offer bachelor’s, master’s, and post graduate programs, without exception, the educational process includes elements of research. Besides immersion in the program’s courses, students participate in research and creative projects, school Olympics, professional contests, and international conferences.
Four of the Institute’s academic programs were named the best in Russia. According to the results of expert voting by the Russian project entitled “Best programs of innovative Russia – 2017”, the academic programs of SUSU’s humanitarians became leaders in the Russian academic space.
Students’ professional and scientific development is enabled by close international ties. By the initiative of the Faculty of Journalism, SUSU, alongside universities from Austria, Spain, Ireland, and Germany were unanimously accepted as institutional members of the European Journalism Training Association, which includes 60 leading faculties of this sphere from 25 universities. The president of this consortium, Nico Drok, is an honorary professor of the SUSU Faculty of Journalism.
The Faculty of Psychology is in the top 5 of the best in the country according to data from the Russian Psychological Society. Leading graduates can complete professional practical training in Europe. The faculty’s professors are registered with the EFPA and 4 are members of the British Psychological Society.
The programs’ success depends in great part on the professors with high qualifications – current researchers, and unique specialists in history, archaeology, art studies, philology, journalism, sociology, and political science.
“The institute has an excellent medium age for its teachers – from 40 to 50,” says Elena Ponomareva, director of the SUSU ISSH, “Experts representing different spheres offer lectures and practical lessons. Employers are necessary participants in the academic process. They offer master classes and hold seminars. The older generation of professors have systemic knowledge and an academic approach, and if you look at the very young professors – they are mobile, creative teachers who are ready to experiment. As a result, we get an ideal balance for the student society – a lack of conservatism, but saving the university’s academic traditions. We are not afraid to experiment: we were the first in the region to move to a two-level system of education, the first to begin training applied scientists. For example, specialists in the field of applied philology, who can work with all types of texts in absolutely any field. In this program, the necessary theoretical foundation was preserved while adding disciplines that make the philologist in-demand in various sectors of the market.”
A well thought-out structure
The Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities brings together three faculties (psychology, history, and philology) and eight departments. The youngest of these is the Department of Theology, Culture, and Art, which exists within the Faculty of History. Today, the department is experimenting with training theologists and art historians in a distance format. Within the faculty there exist an academic center, “Current Issues in History and the Theory of Culture”, an informational center “Russian Museum: Virtual Branch”, and the Art Museum.
The Department of Russian and Foreign History preserves academic traditions, actively develops international connects, and supports contacts with international scientific society. Summer practical training of student historians is held in the form of real archaeological digs: robbing Earth of its secrets, historians deliver them to the people. The artifacts found by students which have undergone scientific systematization, are saved in the university museum Peoples and Technologies of the South Ural Region. Within the department there are the academic centers, Cultural and Historical Studies and Eurasian Studies. The Laboratory of Migration Studies has become an international center of research for the difficult and relevant global processes of migration.
Only at SUSU can humanitarians brag about such a strong manufacturing and laboratory base which allows them to receive excellent practical skills. Within the structure of the institute
There are academic centers within the institute: Cultural Historical Studies; Eurasian Studies; Current Issues in History and the Theory of Culture; Psychodiagnostics; and Migration Studies. Among the academic spaces, besides the SUSU-TB television and radio company, there is also a media laboratory of international level, the 360-Degree Multimedia Newsroom; the Computer Technology in Mass Media laboratory; the Laboratory of Social Advertising and PR Projects; an academic laboratory of theoretical and applied philology, Empirical Sociology, and more.
The Faculty of Journalism combines the Departments of Russian Language and Literature and Journalism and Mass Communications. In Russian academics and abroad, it is known as a unique space where traditions of modern journalism and applied philology are combined and a place where the SUSU-TV television and radio company, student radio, Technopolis newspaper, and the youth internet portal Newsroom Digital operate. They are united technologically in an international-level media laboratory.
The Department of Russian Language and Literature applies innovative methods of teaching Russian, speech cultures, and literature to both humanitarian students and students of non-humanitarian areas.
The most important area of work for the faculty is using the innovative model for training universal media specialists into the academic process, the modernization of material and technical equipment, strengthening business relationships with mass media, press services, informational and advertising agencies and different partners, and improving graduates’ academic, professional, and cultural level.
The Department of Philosophy trains profile disciplines to students of all of the university’s degree areas. The key area here is Philosophical Practices. The philosophical video club, master classes by international researchers, conferences and school seminars, organized by SUSU philosophers, allow this unique, difficult, but intriguing science to be offered to an audience of almost a thousand, which responds to this desire by professionals to bring science closer to life and help understand that which always seemed inconceivable.
By statistics of the last few years, the competition for the state-funded section of the ISSH is about 7-10 people per sport. The middle passing grade for the institute is 74 points in one subject, which is higher than the average number across Russia.
The Department of Sociology and Political Science attracts students to participating in the realization of international research projects with partnerships with the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (Mexico), the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the International Political Science Association. Students of this department have the chance to develop themselves professionally in real social and politically-oriented projects (sociological polling, analytical work, and election campaigns.)
Today more than ever psychology graduates are in demand. According to data from the Russian Psychological Society, the ISSH Faculty of Psychology is among the top 5 in the country. Specialists with a degree from this university are in great demand today. This is because, first of all, there is talk about returning pedagogical psychologists to schools, and second of all, these unique specialists will become key figures in the structures of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The two departments of the Faculty of Psychology, which is considered a respected methodological center in the Ural region, trains experts in this area. Science, practical lessons, and international activities are the components of the academic process in the psychological departments at ISSH. After graduation, specialists and master’s students are able to enroll in post graduate students and defend a dissertation at the dissertation committee. The department uses its priority among the nine Departments of Psychology in Russia to nominate its graduates for receipt of the EuroPsy certificate.
It's impossible not to get interested in this
Among the academic disciplines, the students of the ISSH have a required class – project work. It is already common for typical course work by students to become loud brand promotions and events which are heard all around Chelyabinsk. Students are able to not only think up and realize something, but also attract the whole city to their project. Among the most successful are the literary ball in jazz style, the poetry project Glintvein, the Victory Waltz, and the Literary Calendar.
“Project work demonstrates that our students and graduates are special,” says Elena Ponomareva with pride, “They are able to work creatively and honestly. They must read and speak a lot – beautifully and properly, be able to defend their position in a dialog, be ready for the challenges of modern day – and this is all very difficult in a society with a developed technocracy. Today, it’s difficult to find your place under the sun, it requires max effort. In this regard, I am not worried about our graduates. We have taught them to work in real history, real society, and real time.”
Down with state exams
The Institute of Social Studies and Humanities is the first in the university to decline the system of state exams. And the reason is absolutely not from fear of failing inspections, but from moving towards a completely different, more modern system.
“We must educate motivated people,” continues Elena Vladimirovna, “those who, when coming to an employer, can do something practical and well. We don’t need for them to copy paragraphs and memorize them from some source and then repeat theory on one of the questions for the exam. We have exchanged the theoretical exam with a practical one: our students make videos, edit texts, make creative projects – they form their portfolios. From the first year of study, they must participate in conferences, and not just as guests but also as organizers. In this way, our students immerse themselves in a creative atmosphere.”
On May 24th the Institute celebrates the Day of Slavic Writing and Culture – one of philologists’ favorite holidays. A full cycle of events was planned at the university. However, the main event of these university festivities, per tradition, as the contest of creative translation from Slavic languages – Bulgarian and Polish. The results of these intellectual battles will be given in the final celebrations.
Faculties of people we need
The high academic, professional, and cultural level of students in the Institute of Social Students and Humanities allows them to build a career successfully. Today, graduates of the ISSH work in Chelyabinsk, Russian, and international companies, among which are internet mass media, print media, television and radio companies, advertising agencies and press services, theatres, picture galleries, publishing centers, consulting firms, regional departments of political parties, archives, and educational institutions.
“The most important thing is that all of our graduates, all humanitarians, very strongly feel life. They worry about their language, their history, their traditions, which the national culture is proud of,” says Elena Ponomareva, summarizing, “The condition of instability in the country, the era of searching for waypoints is the best time to put bets on humanitarians. Humanitarians are the true custodians of spiritual values. Their mission is to explore the limitless possibilities of man and bring the light of knowledge and soul to people!”