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. During the event, Lithuanian and world Lithuanian scientific, artistic and creative communities will be invited to discuss the significance of the tradition of the University of Lithuania for Lithuania and Lithuanian diaspora. The symposium will also discuss how university studies, science, art and creativity have been affected by the global pandemic in Lithuania and around the world in recent years.
In 2019, VMU together with its partners organized the 16th World Lithuanian Symposium on Arts and Sciences. Inspired by this tradition born in the Lithuanian American community in 1969, to commemorate the centennial of the University of Lithuania, in 2022 VMU will once again invite representatives of Lithuanian and world Lithuanian scientific and creative communities to gather at the premises of Vytautas Magnus University, this time at the VMU World Lithuanian University Symposium (WLU Sympozium).
Gediminas Karoblis, professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and a member of the event’s organizing committee, noted that for the ancient Greeks, symposium was “a social gathering for eating, drinking, conversing, entertainment and intellectual discussion.” The WLU Symposium, which will be held in October 2022, will similarly aim to strengthen the intellectual co-existence of Lithuanian and world Lithuanian scientists and creators by organizing discussions in formal and informal settings as well as workshops that will take place throughout the year before the symposium.
Inspired by traditions, accompanied by history
The founding of the University of Lithuania in 1922 marked the beginning of the history of Vytautas Magnus University and its tradition, which, after the university closed in 1950, lived on in one form or another in other Lithuanian higher education institutions and academic gatherings of the diaspora. “While celebrating the centennial of the University, an equivocal splitting of tradition might take place in today’s Lithuanian higher education institutions, so the symposium could be a space for deeper understanding and communication, helping to preserve the common memory and the idea of the University in both homeland and world Lithuanian communities,” says Egidijus Aleksandravičius, Professor of History at Vytautas Magnus University.
The “University of Exile” manifested among the Lithuanian diaspora through the activities of voluntary student organizations operating at Vytautas Magnus University and those re-established in diaspora, through scientific and various public activities of departing professors and former students, and through periodically held World Lithuanian Symposiums on Arts and Sciences. During a symposium that took place in 1989, it was decided to re-establish Vytautas Magnus University, which existed during the interwar period. After the plenary session dedicated to the re-establishment of Vytautas Magnus University, 41 foreign members of the Re-establishment Senate of VMU were elected.
Algirdas Avižienis, professor at the University of California and the first rector of the re-established Vytautas Magnus University, in an interview with “Mūsų Vytis” (transl. “Our Vytis”) in 1992 recalled the duties imposed on him by Professor Steponas Kolupaila several decades ago:
“Professors Mykolas Biržiška, Ignas Končius and Steponas Kolupaila were honorary members of my student scout corporation Vytis. They visited our camps, took part in various commemorations, always reminded us in an interesting and clear manner of the work done by the University of Lithuania and obliged us to strive for the restoration of Lithuania’s independence and the re-establishment of the University. On February 16, 1953, Professor Steponas Kolupaila accepted my oath and the oath of three of my colleagues at the University of Illinois, Urbana, presented us with the Vytis Corporation ribbons, and obliged us to return with them to Vytautas Magnus University. I am truly happy that I was able to keep this promise,” Avižienis, the first rector of the re-established Vytautas Magnus University, shared his memories at that time.
“In a sense, VMU, re-established in 1989, was the result of the joint work of Lithuanian and Lithuanian diaspora scientists and artists. It became the university of world Lithuanians, which united, mobilized and developed not only the academic forces of the diaspora, but, more importantly, united scholars of the diaspora who had not lost contact with their homeland and Lithuanian academics that had survived the Soviet era,” says Aleksandravičius.
Today, VMU World Lithuanian University (WLU) is dedicated to fostering the scholarly works, creations and intellectual discussions of world Lithuanians. It is a platform whose projects, initiatives and ideas aim both to continue the work started in 1989 by Prof. Algirdas Avižienis, Prof. Bronius Vaškelis, Valdas Adamkus, Prof. Kęstutis Skrupskelis and other world Lithuanians who contributed to the re-establishment of the university, and to foster the ideas proposed at that time.
Program of the World Lithuanian University Symposium
In 2022, the symposium and its opening events will emphasize the importance of the collective wisdom of world Lithuanians, and, taking into account the issues of recent years and the upcoming 100th anniversary of the University of Lithuania, will invite to discuss topics on freedom and its forms.
The program of the symposium includes the following plenary sessions:
Political scientist Dr. Darius Udrys, a member of the organizational committee of the current and the 2019 symposium, said: “We gather as Lithuanian scientists and creators to scientifically and creatively discuss the problems and challenges relevant to us and our nation. We cannot sit and wait for someone else to generate and implement ideas and solutions. Who will think scientifically and creatively about Lithuania, its future and its role in the world if not us, Lithuanians? That is the value of this event. Every scientific solution begins with creativity, and ideas tend to generate and develop quicker when we create favorable conditions and support for their emergence and development. That is the goal of our symposium – a scientifically and creatively minded Lithuania,” says Udrys and personally invites those who wish to create this kind of Lithuania to contribute.
In 2022, the World Lithuanian University Symposium will not be split into separate parallel sessions. The whole program will take place in a linear manner thus allowing creativity, discussions and coexistence to unfold as if in a long coffee break.
Registration and participation
The WLU Symposium will take place in-person, at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, and remotely on the Zoom platform. The event will also be available online on VMU’s Youtube channel. The full program and registration to the event will be published in April.
Upcoming events of the WLU Symposium:
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