St Petersburg Center
for the History of Ideas

Центр истории идей


The Center is concerned with the quality of education and professional community in the humanities, especially in Russia. The Center aims at creation of free international bi-lingual medium for university teachers and scholars in the humanities. The Center unites educational improvement and up-to-date interdisciplinary professional researches.

Why the History of Ideas?

The Center fosters the history of ideas as it is a new approach for the Russian scholarship and thus has some advantages:
  • It is not connected with the strict bureaucratic division of disciplines and ideological schemes.
  • It has the rich international history and context.
  • It is essentially an interdisciplinary approach.
This approach permits to build a forum of scholars in the arts and humanities to meet each other professionally and personally, to enrich and develop their conceptions in interaction with their colleagues and ideas from other fields of study.


As the Center seeks to unite professional scholars, however young or old, eminent or inexperienced they are, it takes them as ripe, unique and thus very interesting persons. The Center tends to make its accent on personalities and their free choice of topics and methods, rather then to stick to any strictly defined curriculum. To meet a bright eminent personality may be the most important professional experience for a younger scholar.

Ways and Methods

Seeing St Petersburg as the best place for East-West meetings, the Center uses the following ways of professional cooperation, each of which includes a sufficient amount of research work:
  • Workshops, conferences and seminars
  • Summer schools
  • Joint research projects
  • Publication of a bi-lingual almanac
  • Publication of books
  • Cultural events (concerts, performances, exhibitions)

Benefits for the International Community

Though the Center was established to help mostly to younger Russian university teachers, the project now definitely is benefiting to the international community of scholars in the humanities. Scholars from many countries both from the East and the West take part in its events. The international community, it is also hoped, is profiting from learning various tendencies in the Russian thought, from the rich Russian culture and from cooperation with Russian scholars.


The Center regards professional researches as essential to its projects.
The Center begins its researches with the age of Enlightenment, or the long 18th century, because:
  • It is far enough in history from the present time to be maximum free from the modern hot political connotations.
  • Nevertheless, the ideas of the Enlightenment seem still very actual and of a great importance for the modern Russian society.
  • The Enlightenment is the source of ideas about civil society, religious tolerance, democracy, education, human rights.
  • The Enlightenment developed ideas and practices of common European culture and civilization.
Researches of the participants in the Center's activity, of course, should not be limited to the long 18th century.
Research projects within the Center's activity focus upon the following general problems:
  • How ideas are moved and exchanged.
  • How to properly read the ideas out from texts of culture and interpret them.
Thus the interest is in all kinds and ways of ideas transfer: translations, personal transfer, education, technology transfer, book trading, art transfer, etc. It is also important how ideas and texts created in one country are understood and interpreted within another one. The main accent is made upon the origins and history of ideas vital for the modern European-type society (civil, free, technological, democratic, open, liberal, humanistic, etc.). Also essential attention is paid to the persons who took an active part in the intellectual and humanitarian life of the European society.

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