Call for debaters to speak at VMU World Lithuanian University Symposium



To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the University of Lithuania, Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) will host the World Lithuanian University (WLU) Symposium that will take place on October 27–29, 2022 in Kaunas.  Debaters are welcome to apply.

Main theme: „Freedom and its forms“

Today, the idea of ​​freedom is debated around the world. In the West – in one way, in the East – in another. Much time has passed since the era of Renaissance and John Locke. Has the cyber soil of our existence, the pandemic and the means to curb it, and the Russian aggression in Ukraine, which has already turned into, at the very least, a world war of emotions, disrupted the space of freedom to an extent that we do not even know how to return to communication and action?
The World Lithuanian University Symposium must be the time and place where attention is given to the current situation regarding the freedom of thought and public expression, which has been protected by the right of academic autonomy and independent scientific research for several centuries. Today, the challenges of freedom, rights, faith, and morality are becoming the most important topics which, due to their complexity, are not reduced to Twitter-level speaking. Therefore, maybe the community of the World Lithuanian University could still serve as the final trenches bringing together those who care about these issues.
prof. Egidijus Aleksandravičius

Registration is open till the 16th of August, 9 a.m. (EEST)
We will inform the selected debaters by the 16th of September

Language of the event: Lithuanian and/or English.*



The role of the debaters:

➣ responding to the questions, given in the description of a theme;
➣ responding to the speeches of the plenary session speakers (abstracts of speeches will be presented to the debaters beforehand);
➣ a discussion together with presenters, other debaters and the audience.

Duration of individual speech:
 up to 10 min.
Total time for the discussion: 1 h.
Language of the discussion: Lithuanian and/or English
Language of speech: Lithuanian or English
Way of participation: although the event is planned in a hybrid way, we invite the debaters to participate live at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, choosing the Zoom platform only in case of unforeseen circumstances.


Themes for plenary sessions and discussions:

Date: October 28
Starts (tentatively): 10 AM.
Duration of plenary session: 1 h.
Duration of discussion: 1 val.
Language: English.

The motives, history and traditions of the establishment of the University of Lithuania determined the content, characteristics and activities of the "exile university" created in the diaspora. Former students and professors of the University of Lithuania spread across the free world (Europe, United States and other countries) and continued their academic tradition in Lithuanian communities.

At the dawn of Lithuania's independence, the idea of ​​the University of Lithuania sparked in the resurgent society. Diaspora academics, having united their initiatives with Lithuanian academics, re-established the university, combining visions, values, historical memory and experiences preserved and fostered in the free world and the occupied Lithuania. Who were the people who made such a significant contribution? How did their ideas interact at the re-established Vytautas Magnus University at that time? What is the fate of these ideas today?

How does freedom and faith in Lithuania become the key links between the interwar university, the “exile university” and the re-established VMU?

Date: October 28
Starts (tentatively): 2 PM.
Duration of plenary session: 1 h.
Duration of discussion: 1 val.
Language: Lithuanian.

Virtualisation, as an intangible reality, will not replace what is tangible. But what does it mean to live in a reality where what is tangible loses significance? Is it an issue?

Remote working and studying between one place where you are physically present, and another where this activity is physically carried out has already become a well-known practice for both staff, students and school learners, as well as refugee and diaspora communities. Employers' tolerance for remote work fundamentally changes the geographical boundaries of the labour market and the habits of organising working time.

School learners and students are able to study in educational institutions even under the conditions of a raging pandemic and war. Due to physical distancing restrictions, some diaspora communities have not only moved to virtual spaces, but have also found an incentive to form new purely virtual communities or even intensified the activities limited by physical distancing restrictions. What good and bad does all this bring us?

Educational institutions in English-speaking countries plan to financially profit from the virtualisation of education. The European Union hopes to reduce pollution. In China, virtualisation already allows for more effective control of its citizens.

By maintaining vigilance, will we be able to keep in mind the dangers of distance learning, not lose touch with physical reality, and guard against the curiosity of virtual reality or the temptations of virtual control? Will creating virtual twins of universities and schools make our lives safer, cleaner, and more connected? Will it become more humane or less humane?

Date: October 29
Starts (tentatively): 10:50 AM.
Duration of plenary session: 1 h.
Duration of discussion: 1 val.
Language: Lithuanian.

  • Is the growing unpredictability in today’s world hindering the ability to thrive? Are we becoming more resilient or more fragile?
  • How do social upheavals and changes affect science and creativity?
  • How/does science and creativity help to adapt and thrive?
  • How/do global communities built on a national or professional basis increase or decrease fragility under unpredictable conditions?
  • What does a new step towards virtual reality mean for science and creativity in Lithuania and Lithuanian diaspora? Will virtualisation bring the scientific and creative communities of the Lithuanian diaspora closer or further apart?
  • What new habits and associations are forming in the (post)pandemic world, while living under a constant threat of war?
  • Anti-fragility=resilience=thriving – is the formula correct? Can it serve as the vision or mission for Lithuania? What is (or could be) the anti-fragility of Lithuania and Lithuanians as a diasporic nation under unpredictable conditions?


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*Please note: one plenary session and discussion will be held in English and there will be a synchronized translation from Lithuanian to English during other sessions. If you understand Lithuanian but are not fluent in speaking the language, please feel free to apply in English for the discussions that will be held in Lithuanian.  Discussions are open for those who speak Lithuanian and/or English.