Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Russian Universities in Exile



Wednesday, August 30, 7 PM (UTC+3)

After the outbreak of war with Ukraine, many researchers, teachers and students left Russia. Censorship was sharply increased in universities. Entire departments, educational and research programmes were closed. Among the hardest hit were the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at SPbSU (Smolny College) and Shaninka. The “educational constructor” model, where students are free to choose from a wide range of courses, is completely out of step with a system where young people must be ideologically processed and prepared to go to war or work for an authoritarian state.

Scholars who have left come together to initiate international education and research projects that continue to be linked to the “country of exodus.” Former Shaninka professors in Montenegro have created the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a three-year bachelor’s degree ( opening up studies in 6 specialities from September 2023. And Smolny Beyond Borders offers ( a dozen and a half free semester and short-term courses together with Bard College, mainly in the field of humanities and social sciences. How promising is the idea of a “university in exile”? Will such institutions succeed in building not only educational but also research traditions?

The conversation was organised by the telegram channel “About the Country and the World” (


Ilya Kalinin, cultural historian, philologist, critic, editor-in-chief of Versus. Journal of Liberal Arts and Sciences, visiting researcher at Princeton University and Humboldt University (Berlin);

Ksenia Luchenko, journalist, visiting researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations (EC FR), member of the working group of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (FLAS) in Montenegro, former Dean of the Faculty of Media Communications at Shaninka and Head of the Department of Theory and Practice of Media Communications at ISS RANEPA;

Philip Fedchin, art historian, educational technologist, employee of Bard College Berlin, head of the Gagarin Centre, administrator of Smolny Beyond Borders;

Vladimir Shmelev, head of a network of schools, co-founder of the educational company Edumonte, the Pristanište refugee fund and the Faculty Liberal Arts and Sciences (FLAS) in Montenegro;

Boris Grozovsky, columnist, author of the EventsAndTexts Telegram channel.