Patriarch Sviatoslav: “Freedom is the ability to do good”

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In the framework of the special project “University of the XXI century” of the media source The Ukrainians and Ukrainian Catholic University, Patriarch Sviatoslav spoke on the role of the contemporary university, and we offer you some of his main ideas:

If we imagine a state, society as a body, then the university should be its brain that develops specific guidelines by perceiving, exploring, and analyzing the surrounding world. Universities must perceive the modern world’s data, its components, tendencies, and tell where we, as a society, are in our development, what are our risks and dangers. And the most important – where should we head.

University should be progressive and not reactionary. Like a brain, it has to push the “body” forward. If the university does not answer what to do tomorrow but only reacts to the things, where it itself does not play the role of a protagonist, leader, or promoter – it will always fall behind.

We still do not have a clear state policy on the development of universities, but there is a positive effort to introduce the so-called university autonomy. It is crucial that the ministry wouldn’t be a total controller but would instead enable higher education institutions to form their agenda, educational process and become a part of particular needs of society, not just fulfill orders. In my opinion, this reform launches the real separation of soviet heritage in Ukrainian education.

The year 2020 highlighted many weak spots of contemporary society and societies in general. It demonstrated that the biggest weakness of a modern person is his or her ability or inability to create interpersonal relations. Obviously, we can be in contact with hundreds of people, but the online work regime causes burnout. In natural communication, we can only build real human relations with a limited number of people, and now it seems like we are required to broaden those numbers to hundreds of people. It exhausts our ability to build full-blooded, deep relationships.

Freedom is the ability to do good and do it not only because someone forces me but also because I understand it’s the right thing to do. It is quite immature to force someone to do something or to forbid something to someone. A mature person is someone who consciously chooses from many different possibilities what is good, useful, and helps my neighbor and me to become better. 

A modern young person in Ukraine lacks somebody, who would be interested in him or her, who would be concerned about his or her endeavours, interests or pains. This person lacks a community that would wish him or her all the best professionally, in a modern way, progressively, and where they would help make the next step.

Prior to the pandemic, we sometimes underestimated or devalued meetings with people, or, even sitting around the table, we would stare at the gadgets and ignore the presence of someone close by. I hope that the circumstances of the pandemic, which caused the transition to online learning, would provoke a particular thirst in students and professors, the need to meet in person and not through the flat screen.

Today every student needs a teacher, who wouldn’t block the road, but lead to the original sources. As for the relations between the students, they should form a community of those seeking the truth together, cooperate, and share experiences for the sake of mutual growth.

The rector of today’s higher education institution must be a true creative leader of the intellectual, academic environment. This is a certain vocation, charisma – the ability to lead. He must also be a good educator, a father who, on the one hand, watches over the whole community of the university, and on the other hand, really feels the students who are the addressees of the work of this academic community.

Translated by Kylyna Kurochka

About the project:

The special project “University of the XXI century” of the media outlet The Ukrainians and Ukrainian Catholic University, in which experts from various spheres speak about problems, challenges, and tasks of the contemporary university and offer their ideas how the higher education should look.

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