“Ecology of Consciousness”: SUSU Starts Fulfilling a Project on Improving Ecological Image of Chelyabinsk and the Region

South Ural State University always responds to requests set before the region. At present among the most topical ones is the issue of the media ecological image of Chelyabinsk, which negatively affects the development of our region. To solve this problem, a complex project on the Ecology of Consciousness was elaborated by the SUSU Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, and was initiated and coordinated by the Department of Philosophy.

The Ecology of Consciousness project is a transdisciplinary one. It aims not only at changing the image of the South Ural capital, but also at forming environmental friendliness. The project is based on a philosophical notion of the “ecology of consciousness”, which became popular in the second half of the 20th century.

“The notion of the “ecology of consciousness” is related to an idea of the balance between the three principles constituting a human being – body, mind and soul, a harmonious combination of which makes us whole. To be in harmony with yourself, you need to be more friendly to all things natural, both within you and in the surrounding environment. To achieve that, it is important to word the approaches, concepts, and methods, which would allow people to be more delicate, respectful and grateful towards nature, what also brings the spiritual world of humans into harmony,” believes Elena Grednovskaya, Head of the Department of Philosophy of the SUSU Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities.

At the stage of elaboration of the project the Department of Philosophy was actively collaborating with the Research and Innovation Services, in particular with its Deputy Head, Anton Nurkenov. As a result, the project was submitted for participation in the National Technology Initiative, a government programme on the measures for supporting the development of promising sectors in Russia. Also the project was presented at the meeting of the project-analytical session on Fulfilling the Strategy of SUSU Transformation, where the university top managers made a decision to support the ecological issue and its fulfilment by the team of the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities.

After a round of presentations and discussions three vectors of fulfilment were adopted for the Ecology of Consciousness project: 1) Ecology of Natural Basics (technological eco-engineering), which involves ecologists and mathematicians of our university; 2) Ecology of Public Consciousness (humanities eco-engineering), being elaborated by the Department of Philosophy, and 3) Ecology of Media Space (media eco-engineering), the development of which was taken up by the SUSU journalists. This final three-piece version of the project passed the competitive selection among other similar interdisciplinary projects and gained financial support from the university top management.

The project’s information and media partner-customers have included government authorities and public organisations: Chelyabinsk City Duma Committee for Ecology and Environment Protection headed by Vladimir Burmatov, Committee for Ecology and Resource Saving of the South Urals Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by Andrey Minchenko, and Public Chamber of the Chelyabinsk Region, with which the university partners through collaboration with Feliks Panov, member of Public Chamber of the Chelyabinsk Region, member of Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, Chairman of Chelyabinsk regional public organisation Vryemya Che South Ural Public Volunteer Eco-movement.

In February of 2019, jointly with Chelyabinsk City Duma, Public Chamber of the region and Mechel Company, SUSU will organise Eco-engineering 1.0 ecological forum. The idea of the event implies discussing various aspects of the concept of forming a positive image of the Chelyabinsk Region, presenting ecological projects, and adopting a resolution on the results of work in the course of the event. The forum will be broadcasted online via Internet. Within the frameworks of the forum a Plenary Meeting will be held with participation of the representatives of the Chelyabinsk Region Ministry of Ecology, Rosprirodnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision over Natural Resources Management) and Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. The following discussion platforms will be functioning: Recyclable Materials and Recycling Alternatives; Media Space of Chelyabinsk; Humanisation of Attitude to Animals; and Cultural Pattern of the Region’s Upgrade: Ecological Space and Natural Heritage.

At round tables the experts will be discussing such topics as: Self-branding, Fact-checking — Forming the Ecological Culture of Population; and The May Decrees of the President of the Russian Federation. The Problem of the Quality of Air in Industrial Centres, Updating the Population Demands. The forum will also feature Ecology&Art exhibition of art and photography, which will be organised by the SUSU Department of Theology, Culture, and Arts, an exhibit of the works from the contest on children’s eco-theme drawings, as well as a master class on hand made using ecologically friendly materials.

Another event within the project, which was approved by the university top management, will be fulfilled in 2019, jointly with Committee for Ecology and Resource Saving of the South Urals Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event is devoted to the idea of upgrading the Arkaim cultural and historical complex.

“Due to a whole number of reasons Arkaim is currently in a somewhat neglected state with regard to its infrastructure and cultural development. In addition it has also become a destination of the so called “mystical tourism”. In this context its scientific, tourism and cultural-and-historical resource is not properly deployed,” notes Elena Grednovskaya. “We have received a proposal to get involved in the solution of this problem and with the effort of the scientific community help come up with a substantiation for the necessity of secular, scientific and cultural development of Arkaim, as well as fulfil a number of projects, such as interactive exhibition, historical reconstruction and others.”

Early in 2019 a Round Table will be held at SUSU on Arkaim, a Territory of Concord: on Forming Historical Grounds for the Regional Ideology of Cultural, National and Religious Unity, in which scientists from different universities will be participating, as well as representatives of government institutions and business communities, and public figures of the South Ural region. As part of this meeting it is planned to discuss the creation of a South Urals – My History interactive historical park and of its first exhibit devoted to the Eneolithic Period and the Bronze Age (Arkaim, Country of Towns), deliver a presentation of the project before the Governor and the region’s Government, as well as for the business community representatives who might be interested in it, in order to organise funding for designing and creation of the exhibition.

“The team of the Department of Philosophy are young academics who are patriots of our region. While our students also often share their vision of the ecological situation in the region with their teachers. Students say that they do not understand what needs to be done, so that the situation would change. With the help of this project we’d like to create the conditions for these changes in the environment, and for the world to change for better,” stressed Elena Grednovskaya.

Another field of activity under the Ecology of Consciousness complex project is the development of new ecologically oriented educational courses. This may be facilitated by the opening of a Department of Jean Monnet at the university and by obtaining a grant from the European Union for holding modular educational courses on ecology, including training specialists in Social Ecology. At present the Department of Philosophy is preparing an application for obtaining of such grant.

The transdisciplinary project Ecology of Consciousness has yet another aspect, which is related to the integration of the ecological problems activities into the international community. With this regard the preparations for the opening of the UNESCO Department of Ecology of Consciousness in the Context of Digital Industry are underway.

Azaliya Sharafutdinova
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