Today in Struga, President Stevo Pendarovski addressed the opening of the international scientific conference “Science and Society: The Contribution of the Humanities and Social Sciences”, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje. Below is the integral address of President Pendarovski.
Distinguished Academicians, Esteemed Professors, Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to greet you at this scientific conference. After a long period filled only with virtual, on-line conferences, I believe we all eagerly waited to get together, to see each other live, especially here in such a beautiful place. I thank the organizers who gathered us today in Struga to celebrate a great jubilee, not only of the Faculty of Philosophy, but also of the Republic of North Macedonia.
Established back in the 1920s, the Faculty of Philosophy is the core of the Macedonian higher education. On that core later, our oldest state university, “St. Cyril and Methodius” was formed in Skopje and the foundations of the National and University Library “St. Clement of Ohrid” were laid. The Faculty is associated with the great names of Macedonian science – Blaze Koneski, Mihail Petrusevski, Haralampie Polenakovic, Gjorgji Shoptrajanov, Ljuben Lape, Jovan Trifunovski, Gjorgji Stradelov, Pavao – Vuk Pavlovic and many others. There is almost no teaching-educational and scientific-research activity in the humanities, social sciences and historical sciences in which the Faculty of Philosophy has not made a significant contribution.
Hence, it can be rightly said that the Faculty of Philosophy is the guardian of tradition. Through history, classical studies, history of art and archeology, this Faculty takes care of the transfer of a significant part of our cultural and historical identity to current and future generations.
Through philosophy, pedagogy, sociology and psychology, the faculty also participates in the creation of responsible and participatory academic citizens. During these 100 years, thousands of students have had the opportunity to learn about a wide range of ideas and concepts, to participate in debates on important social topics, including coexistence in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious context. In the halls of the Faculty of Philosophy, each generation begins again the fundamental discussions about man, his work and his ideas for life in community with others.
Through social work and politics, special education, gender studies and family studies, the Faculty contributes to building awareness for the humane society and solidarity, for the promotion of the family and the care of the vulnerable categories.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Everyone who has been part of the Macedonian higher education is at the same time an inheritor of the tradition that starts exactly with the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje. We are all, directly or indirectly, intellectual descendants of the Faculty of Philosophy, therefore, today, we are all proud of this jubilee.
Apart from being a custodian of tradition, the Faculty is also a kind of incubator of ideas that will shape the future. The Faculty of Philosophy is part of the Macedonian, and thus the European educational space in which we encourage young people to seek new and creative answers to old questions. To deepen knowledge, to expand horizons. What is learned should be in function of developing the students’ ability to independently acquire knowledge, to discover, and thus to contribute to personal happiness, but also to the common good.
In order to continue to successfully fulfill this dual role of preserving the authentic and opening up to the new, there are several preconditions for which I am convinced that the people from the Faculty of Philosophy know and actively work on their implementation.
The first is guaranteeing human freedom of thought and expression and academic freedom of research. This is necessary not only for educational and teaching-scientific purposes, but also for the development of a public space in which citizens can freely ask difficult questions and seek honest answers. This search for truth is specific to any free, just, and prosperous society.
Second, continuous advancement in education. Quality education is the key to ensuring a dignified life for citizens. The success of our generation will be judged on whether we will be able to secure a European future for our young people, here in their country. And we will only achieve that if we build an advanced society based on knowledge and a sustainable economy based on new technologies. But to achieve this, the knowledge and innovation of the natural, economic and technical sciences must be complemented by the wisdom and depth of insight of the humanities and social sciences.
That leads to the third precondition, which is to nurture interdisciplinarity. Aristotle’s phrase that the whole is greater than the constituent parts also applies to science. The greatest modern challenges require a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach. The latest example of this is the current Covid-19 pandemic. This serious health challenge has its ethical, economic, social, sociological and, of course, safety dimension. In conditions of pandemic, questions are raised about life and death, suffering and natural evil, the effects on society and the family, the quality of education, the socialization of young people, the care of the vulnerable. The character and scope of this pandemic necessarily requires interdisciplinary approach, and the Faculty of Philosophy and its institutes can make their scientific contribution to finding sustainable solutions.
I am convinced that as a bearer of the Macedonian educational identity and an unbreakable link in our enlightening social environment, the Faculty of Philosophy will continue to give its contribution to the overall development of our country. In the following decades, I wish the Faculty of Philosophy to continue to develop its teaching and scientific activity and to remain one of the beautiful examples and models of the Macedonian higher education.
I wish you a successful conference and many more years and decades of survival of our national pride – the Faculty of Philosophy!