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City news, 03.04.2007 13:05

St. Petersburg University Promotes Patriotic Projects Among Students

state_petersburg_university By Evgenia Ivanova

Staff Writer

Despite what people think, St. Petersburg’s young people are not apathetic victims of consumer society, St. Petersburg State University said as it unveiled the results of a contest of projects promoting the future of Russia.

The competition, “Our Future is Russia,” run by the university for the first time, aimed to attract students’ and graduates’ attention to humanitarian problems, and the promotion of tolerance and democracy.

A 600,000 ruble prize fund ($23,104) was equally divided among the best ten ideas that ranged from the creation of a political discussion program and a game-show on TV to designing a meeting place for Russian expatriates.

“[The contest] explodes the myth of young people being a part of the absolutely indifferent environment of consumerism,” the university’s press service said in a statement Monday. “Anyhow, the emotional level of the work submitted and the level of recognition of importance of the problems introduced show that it is not all bad in terms of the progressive outlook of young people.”

University rector Lyudmila Verbitskaya said last month that “the initiative of the university reflects the need and the ability of society to independently form… the prospects of the country’s development and to be able to find the place of each citizen in this process.”

A number of long-term projects were also recognised by the university.

Contestant Natalia Trofimova suggested creating a network of culture and entertainment centers promoting “traditions, games and amusements of Russia’s ethnic minorities.”

Trofimova’s project was chosen because “it follows City Hall’s philosophy toward [St. Petersburg’s potential as a] tourist attraction” and is “based on the unbiased reality of large cities where many cultures coexist,” a statement from the press office said.

The ideas could be developed and realized in a so-called “business-incubator.” The university is currently working on creating such a unit.

In the unit, students will be offered the opportunity to organize their own businesses with the full legal and financial support of the university, the advisor to its head of science projects Timofei Utnasin told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday.

“The majority of start-ups spend enormous amount of energy to solve organizational problems… Offering of such services is precisely the main task of the ‘incubator’ so the trainee businessmen can focus on the development of their businesses,” he said.

“There is an unbelievable number of talented and creative people studying in the university, many of whom would like to start up their own companies,” Utnasin added.

The university — which plans to run the competition on a yearly basis — will hand over the best projects to the presidential administration.

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