History and traditions
The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Smolny College) of St. Petersburg University is the first Department in Russia to be founded upon the principles of liberal education. It emerged from Smolny College (officially the Arts and Humanities Program), which was created in 1996 by St. Petersburg University in close collaboration with Bard College (USA). Bard College's interest in curricular innovation and the reform of international education coincided with the interests of a group of creatively-minded scholars from St. Petersburg University.
In the fall of 1997 the Smolny Center announced a program of open courses to be attended by students from SPbU and other St. Petersburg universities. In view of the considerable number of students and professors who responded, showing great interest in liberal education, the Center was transformed into the Arts and Humanities Program (Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) in 1999. The Program accepted its first students in the 1999/2000 academic year. On February 28th, 2011, the Academic Council of St. Petersburg University voted to create the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Today, there are approximately 700 students enrolled in the Faculty.
At the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, each student creates an individualized plan of study. Students have the opportunity to study a broad selection of possible subjects and then choose for themselves the most interesting path. The opportunity for choice is huge, with a curriculum, consisting of 12 major programs, and more than 300 different courses.
The Faculty's teaching methodology is based on an individual approach for every student. The atmosphere encourages, creative, unconventional thinkers.
A breadth of views, the capacity to form independent opinions and decisions, an ability to orient oneself in a constantly changing world to defend one's own point of view using well founded arguments, and finally, a willingness to apply one's knowledge to the broadest field possible—these are the qualities that the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences aims to develop in its students.
During their course of study, students may have the opportunity to attend a three-week course in English at Bard College free of charge, and are eligible to participate in a semester-or-long exchange program with Bard College and other universities abroad. Graduates of the Faculty receive two diplomas—a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bard College and a Bachelor of Arts and Humanitarian Sciences from St. Petersburg University.
In 2021, by decision of the Government of the Russian Federation, the process of reorganizing St. Petersburg University was initiated with the formation of the University of Liberal Arts and Sciences. On March 1, 2021, the Faculty Academic Council supported the separation of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences into an independent university, and on March 3, the Academic Council of SPbU voted for the reorganization (71.43% in favor). The reorganization process will be implemented in the near future.