Man and Society Knowledge Integration in Teaching Social-humanitarian Subjects at the University
Evgeniy Popovα, Olga Korostelevaσ, Tamara Kryaklinaρ, Svetlana VoroninaѠ, Yan Mezhenin¥ & Olga Razzamazova§
The article considers man and society knowledge integration possibilities and mechanisms in social-humanitarian subjects teaching at the university. The purpose is to show the way knowledge integration contributes to the development of graduates’ professional and personal qualities required within the social-economic and political crisis in modern Russia.
In course of the research we identified the integration potential and its implementation specifics in teaching various social-humanitarian subjects.
Keywords: knowledge integration, man and society, teaching.
Authorα: Doctor of philosophical Sciences, Professor, Russia, Altai State University, Head of the Department of General Sociology, 656049, Russia.
σ: Doctor of sociological Sciences, Professor, Russia, Altai State University, Professor of the Department of General Sociology, 656049, Russia.
ρ: Doctor of philosophical Sciences, Professor, Russia, Altai State University, Professor of the Department of General Sociology, 656049, Russia.
Ѡ: Candidate of sociological Sciences, Russia, Altai State University, associate Professor of the: Department of General Sociology, 656049, Russia.
¥ : Candidate of sociological Sciences, Russia, Altai State University, associate Professor of the: Department of General Sociology, 656049, Russia.
§: Candidate of filological Sciences, Russia, The Altai Branch of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Department of Humanities and Natural Sciences, Partizanskaia st., 187.
Problem Statement: The problem of man and society knowledge integration in process of teaching social-humanitarian subjects at the university has both scientific and applied meaning. On the one hand it concerns the improvement possibilities of teachers work aimed at developing students’ knowledge necessary for gaining the qualification. On the other hand consolidation of professional competences allowing future experts to solve complex multidimensional problems which appear in social relations system and demand serious consideration grows in importance.
The given article is aimed at showing the way the knowledge integration contributes to the marked development of graduates’ professional qualities necessary for themselves as well as for the country and the society within the multipolar world, multiculturalism, crisis manifestations in economy and cultural dialogue etc. Thus, it is focused on potential of certain social- humanitarian subjects within which knowledge and competences are cultivated in future specialists.
Based on the theoretical analysis of the problem specified we set out and solve the problem of realizing the necessity and reasonableness of man and society knowledge integration in process of in social-humanitarian subjects teaching at the university. According to the applied aspect of the problem there we are to specify the nature of such subjects teaching based on the promotion of the “man and society knowledge integration” trend.
Literature survey: Nowadays synthesis of various sciences is often seen in some aspects of social life ranging from biomechanics and sociobiology to neurocybernetics sand neuromarketing. In this regard, there exists shortage of personnel in various interdisciplinary areas. The leading role in such knowledge promotion is often played by professionals who go beyond narrow research interests and study related areas (Razzamazova, 2017, р. 96-99).
The importance of knowledge integration in educational process has been growing due to the modern social challenge – training of interdisciplinary standard specialists. It is what helps individual knowledge to become more educated, open-minded and universal. In the scientific discourse in this regard the problems of education are concerned J. Schmid, S. A. Kolesnikov, J. Youtie, who study the shift from transnational education to scientific research by means of universities participation in regional economic development. (Schmid et al., 2018).
Constant self-improvement and skills training can be provided by getting modern education at the workplace. A number of authors, e.g. E. Kyndt, N. Govaerts, E. Verbeek, F. Dochy study the importance of informal at-work personnel training of social educational institutions. (Kyndt et al., 2014).
An important part of integration is combining political and social studies. E.g. М. Müller studies the influence of education on the international relations and geopolitical entities formation. (Müller, 2011).
N. Kauppi, T. Erkkilä emphasize the significance of global higher education within the whole society (Kauppietal and Erkkilä, 2011). The same opinion is shared by A. Sharmа, who considers higher education important for social development. (Sharma, 2018).
In the context of sociology and demography connection one can mention the work by T. Martín-García, P. Baizán, who show the relationship between the type and spread of education and the birthrate (Martín-García and Baizán, 2006).
International problems of migrants academic progress are described by B. Riederer и R. Verwiebe (Riederer and Verwiebe, 2015), meanwhile the impact of individual social background and cognitive abilities on gaining education is reflected in A. Pokropek’s works (Pokropeket, 2015).
A certain aspect of the problem under study is concerned by S. D. Levitt и S. J. Dubner who reveal the education system mistake through the economic interest. (Levitt and Dubner, 2006).
As seen, different sources consider education problems from different points of view but nevertheless the problem of man and society knowledge integration in process of in social-humanitarian subjects teaching in university is still open to discussion.
- RESEARCH METHODS
Due to the fact that the work is aimed at clearing up peculiarities of teaching social-humanitarian subjects at the university based on man and society knowledge integration it is important to conduct empirical study made for clearing up peculiarities of man and society knowledge integration in educational process at three levels: 1) taking into account the university teaching stuff opinion (the Altai Krai, the Altai Republic, the Kemerovo Oblast – the regions of the Siberian Federal Districts) (n=120); 2) empirical data of undergraduates’ survey in the above-mentioned regions of the Russian Federation (n=900); 3) various educational and instructional publication in social-humanitarian subjects analysis (Social Studies, Political Studies, Cultural Studies etc) in order to clarify the aspects of man and society knowledge integration and the peculiarities of corresponding material and knowledge learning in university. Thus the article is based on the original empirical data at three above-mentioned levels or directions got during 2013-2016 research.
The use of social research applied methods serves the purpose of the paper and the chosen strategy corresponds the principal requirements to conducting such researches in terms of determining certain methods, territorial features, sampling characteristics and representativeness.
The observance of proportions between the population of different localities (e.g. small towns, mid-sized and big cities, rural settlements) is also of great importance.
The offered research strategy made it possible to clarify and analyze the following indicators of man and society knowledge integration while teaching social-humanitarian subjects in university: methods or technologies of knowledge integration, the integration influence on future graduates social thinking development and their professional competences, key man and society development problems and their interactions, recorded in textbooks and educational publications.
- RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Studying of the spiritual life of man and society is very important in students training. The given object of study is known to be significant in terms of Social studies and social-cultural subjects. Meanwhile the spiritual life is often considered an object of empirical studies. (Popov, 2012). That is why Social science has some advantages in studying this phenomenon while Sociology of Spiritual Life is the main subject in process of training students eager to devote their career to studying social processes and changes.
Students surveyed in course of the empirical research admit that in most cases (72%) they understand the necessity of studying spiritual life of man and society within social-humanitarian subjects. The representatives of university teaching stuff (more than 70%) share the position.
The practice of teaching this discipline focuses on spiritual life conceptualization in Social science as well as the features of applied research (66% experts underline the fact).
Actually, spiritual life is the experience of human formation and development that is why it is important for a future sociologist to have the corresponding skills of research reflection. What theme can attract students in such kind of research? First of all, topical issues consider matters of religion, citizenship, tolerance, patriotism (Maximova et al., 2015), justice (Nemirovskij, 2017), the state of happiness, friendship, love etc. The attention of social scientists is traditionally focused at political and economic spheres of individual and collective activity.
Therefore, in process of teaching Sociology of Spiritual Life it is important to take into account the following issues. First, it makes sense to consider the spiritual life of man and society as this concept can be related to the characteristics of the society and social phenomena. Second, is must be assumed that students will have to use secondary data of previously conducted social research and are to critically assess the available results in terms of relevance and heuristics. Therefore students should be aware of the most significant changes in the spiritual life of man and society, e.g. those contributing to spiritual security. It is spiritual security that, thirdly, must become a key issue of the whole Sociology of Spiritual Life course. However, the future specialists will have to deal with a range of various research and results in order to develop sustainable concepts of man and society spiritual life. The experience of teaching Sociology of Spiritual Life, for instance, in Altai State University (Barnaul, Russia) accumulated for many years makes it possible to note some facts about corresponding knowledge establishment: 1) Sociology of Spiritual Life is targeted at applied research, therefore, students are going to deal with a great amount of empirical data to be interpreted in terms of society changes; 2) studying the spiritual life of man and society should be provided after cultural knowledge establishment. The application form for Social science undergraduates studying culture and its phenomena within various social-humanitarian subjects including Sociology of Spiritual Life contains a question about the necessity of value orientation for such kind of subjects. The majority of students (82%) admitted the necessity of culture studying and, besides, pointed out the fact that such subjects display the man and society knowledge integration best of all. Thus, the mentioned circumstances increase the value of Sociology of Spiritual Life as an academic subject and contribute to the development of the whole social science.
Man and society knowledge integration is as well studied in a number of socio-cultural disciplines which also study the spiritual life of man and society. These are, for instance, such academic subjects as Socio-cultural Studies (Erasov, 2000) or Culture Sociology (Alexander, 2003). In this case spiritual life is seen as a human condition which appears as a result of certain value-standard elements impact. Among them are fashion, habits, traditions, rituals etc. 68% of students pay attention to these aspects of spiritual life, while 71% of experts consider studying value-standard peculiarities of human existence a priority in teaching social-humanitarian subjects. It must be noted that teaching the above-mentioned subjects should not be limited only with studying a set of certain value-standard elements in terms of their ethnic dimension. It is the analysis of human and social conditions affecting stages of socialization and inculturation that is significant. Therefore, within teaching such subjects it is important to solve at least two principal problems: first, to choose methodological direction of spiritual life research (it may be interdisciplinary-oriented); second, to focus at socio-cultural factors, affecting the spiritual life of man and society.
Latent Social Structures is one more compulsory subject in process of teaching Social Science, Law, Political Science, Psychology students etc. Indeed, this subject is necessary not only regarding sociology but also socio-legal, political and economic courses. Meanwhile hidden elements of social structure, namely elite (which does not necessarily demonstrates its activities); pressure groups (lobby), cliques, clans, mafia or organized crime; grouping of relatives and fellow-countrymen; bureaucracy; oligarchy; shadow phenomena in economics, politics, law, etc are often considered an object of empirical research as sociological analysis has advantages in studying these phenomena (Wallerstein, 2003).
Studying this subject a special attention is drawn not only to conceptualization of social structure elements theoretical definitions but also to their empirical analysis. It is due to the fact that social structure features the level and the direction of social energy of a society. Thus, its analysis makes it possible to judge future society possibilities (Mills, 1959). E.g. analyzing organized crime activity a student has to apply to legal experts works and law-enforcement institutions surveys. Moreover, it is impossible to study shadow economy without applying to economic indicators, therefore, a student must be able to work with statistical information. This subject is of great interest (according to 76% students opinion), meanwhile a part of students interviewed note that studying latent structures can provide security in social and everyday life (according to 54% respondents). Some students (42%) expressed an intention to continue extensive study of latent social processes.
The problem of the course is the shortage of special educational publications intended for and helping students to learn the subject studied. Meanwhile some publications deal with this problem (Mankiw, 2013; Hoover, 2011, etc).
In this regard while teaching this subject one should take into account the following aspects: first, consider inseparable link between man and social processes; second, develop students ability of critical reflection on available secondary data; third, promote developing sustainable idea about hidden social processes and their impact on evident elements of social structure functioning. And, what is even more important, a student should clearly realize the threat level and levels of providing social security. These factors increase the value of studying latent social structures as an academic subject and provide the opportunity to master skills of countering the corresponding threats from such latent structures.
The man and society knowledge integration is revealed in a number of social-legal, political and economic subjects which also study practical manifestations of social structures latent elements. Among them are, e.g. Jurisprudence, Political Studies, Social politics, Psychology and, undoubtedly, Economics. Here the following aspects are studied: 1) latent elements of social structure are a catalyst for further social stratification to the rich and the poor; 2) shadow economy reduces tax revenues which could provide social programs and aid to the poor; 3) corruption makes the possibility of civil rights and social interests realization conditional on wealth. In social sense it results in reducing budgets at all levels, cutting off social programs, lack of Health, Science and Education funding, lower pension and social benefits.
In this regard in process of teaching latent social structures one should not dwell only upon the activity of this structures but also upon social results of their functioning (Vоronina, 2015). Therefore, first, students attention must be focused on anthropocentric character of research; second, concentrate on social, cultural, legal and economic factors that influence social structure transformation.
Project-based learning is important in teaching social-humanitarian subjects. It can be applied both at tutorials and lectures; while preparing synthesis results in a certain subject as well as separate branch; in developing special skills (competences) in certain academic subjects. Thus, in terms of academic subject “Political Studies” the focus should be on political analysis of one or another problem. In the conducted empirical research Russian university students argued that the academic course of Political Science should be focused on solving certain political problems in the state and the society (71%), on studying the development prospects of civil society (58%), studying values, standards and anomie manifestations (54%). Thus, the aspect of man and society knowledge integration can help students to get required professional competences of higher level, and develop professional approach to meeting the problems of social security in the country.
Man and society knowledge integration is most vividly represented in the course of Social Anthropology. The possibilities of this course in terms of man and society knowledge integration are determined mainly by its subject area. First, in all the diversity of social anthropology subject definitions each of them underlines the connection of man, society and culture. (Dobren'kov and Kravchenko, 2008). Second, the empirical basis for social anthropology is, as a rule, archaic society characterized by community-type social relations. According to the researchers community-based model “is neither collectivistic nor individualistic”. (Rouland, 1988, р. 53).
Studying mythos and mythology is an important element of teaching this course, modern myth creation being s a key problem. Reflection on this issue naturally integrates the modern man’s analysis of mental, personal features and social premises of created mythologemes. Applying to the phenomenon of “parallel mythology” (i.e. presence of close mythological plots within different archaic cultures) contributes to students shaping fundamental attitude to the fact of humanity generic and specific unity. It can serve as a kind of “vaccine” against racism and nationalism. Within the given course the following issues are focused:: “How has the everyday life changed for Russian people in the post-Soviet period?” “How do management strategies and collaboration towards human attitude to nature correspond?” “How can one make a dialogue between the present-day man and the “world of other people”?” Students noted that the issue of Social Anthropology makes them think about similarities and differences between values and standards of Russians and other cultures and countries (34% interviewed), solve problems related to culture globalization and Europeanization (22%), reflect on inclusion or exclusion of Russia from global socio-cultural context (19%) etc.
Knowledge integration is characteristic for the teaching of Ethnopolitology that originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s of the 20th century in the United States. Is becomes especially evident in defining such principal concepts of Ethnopolitology as ethnicity, ethnic group, ethnic nationalism. Traditional society transformation in 1970s required understanding the ethics of new methodological approaches that link different scientific directions, existing in social science, anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, political science (primordialism, constructivism, instrumentalism). Despite all discrepancies the common researchers’ argument in defining ethics was recognition of the fact that the individual and the community (ethnic group) accept the “we-they” polarization. All above-mentioned scientific approaches to ethics analysis give students the possibility to extend and deepen their perception of the phenomenon. Thus, cultural approach allowed an American researcher M. Nash to reveal the main spheres of ethics manifestation: definition of an ethnic group self-naming functioning in a complete system of similar names; a set of cultural elements, including systems of kinship, nutrition system religious cults; physical features (anthropological characteristics, specific clothes), language and other cultural values. (Nash, 1989).
In process of learning ethnic group ideology students should realize the necessity of scientific approaches integration in different socio-humanitarian sciences. Nevertheless ethno- politologists traditionally distinguish between ideologies related to “nation-state” policy and the policy of an ethnic group as a part of multiethnic state. The ideology representing nation-state ethno-political interests is defined as “nationalism”, while one of an ethnic group is called “ethno-nationalism”. Under nationalism analysis, nation-states historical, sociological, psychological, political and ethno-political knowledge is integrated; under ethno-nationalism analysis of an ethnic group they are extended and deepened by involving ethnology, anthropology, and cultural studies.
Demography is especially important in the process of humanities teaching. It allows to consider the current society problems, to understand the origin of some trends related to and caused by population reproduction. Analyzing some today’s social processes students find out that many social events now result from the demographic situation from 10, 50, or 100 years ago. (Kortneva, 2015). For example, the up-coming pension reform in Russia is caused by demographic crisis waves overlay during the Second World War and social-economic crisis in the 1990s. On the other hand, it is influenced by the 1980s baby-boom and increased life expectancy in the last decade. It is these events that resulted in increased number of persons of retirement age in Russia, though the number of working-age people is insufficient for the economy. How could it happen? Why has the birthrate been reducing? Only two generations ago there were five and more children in a family, while in the modern society we meet the cases of voluntary childlessness and even child-free movements. (Kazachihina, 2014). Such issues formulation as case tasks makes it possible to stimulate students creative search which is based on scientific data gained in course of studying various academic disciplines.
As a result of this interdisciplinary synthesis students offer a number of solutions of the given social-demographic, social-economic, and social-political problems. They better understand the measures taken by the government in order to control these life spheres. During the discussion led by the teacher they make a number of decisions, then evaluate these decisions from the strategic point of view in different spheres of social life. Students get a deeper cause and effect understanding of such policies as: stimulating the birthrate in families with children; increasing the retirement age, migration management policy affordable housing programs establishment etc. Man and society knowledge integration makes it possible for students to create socially important projects and graduate works characterized by a systemic view, complex interdisciplinary synthesis, scientific approaches combination, and focus on social value and humanistic course. This fact, in particular, is mentioned by 73% of interviewed university students, while the majority recognizes demography as the key discipline for Russian population reproduction understanding which also helps to solve socio-cultural development problems of the country.
Thus, the conducted research allows to meet a number of challenges connected with the problem of man and society knowledge integration in teaching Social-humanitarian subjects at the university: 1) developing students professional competences required for meeting relevant problems of social and personal progress should be included in the principal methods and techniques of knowledge integration; 2) the impact of such integration on graduates social thinking development which will help them to become responsible members of society and to realize, analyze and make certain decisions in practice, e.g. in terms of developing and testing target programs in the field of socio-economic, socio-political and socio-legal life of the society and in state and regional policy; 3) knowledge integration reflects the key problems of man and society development, therefore, a future specialist having studied one or other socio-humanitarian subjects at the university is able to meet the future professional challenges at high theoretical and empirical level .
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In the article the authors managed to reveal an important topic of modern pedagogy in higher education. The emphasis is made on the application of integration of knowledge in the teaching of socio-humanitarian disciplines. This problem is connected with the formation of professional competencies of future professionals who will solve the issues of social, political and economic security of the state. Also, experts will solve problems at the interdisciplinary level, which will provide a high degree of quality of decisions.
The article also demonstrates the specific application of knowledge about the development of human and society in the formation of professionals who are able to understand not only the Russian realities of life, but also foreign.
The methods used are mass graduates’ survey, expert teachers’ survey, document analysis. These methods contributed to obtaining original information about the state of Affairs in the educational process of Russian higher education institutions. Objective information can be used in the comparative analysis of educational practices in different modern States. It also shows the difficulties faced by the Russian education system when it comes to the possibilities of globalization and modernization of the entire system of the world educational process.
The authors conclude that integrated social-humanitarian subjects teaching at the university has much influence on developing undergraduates’ general culture and professional competences demanded by the society and the state. The competences will allow to minimize the consequences of economic, political and social crisis in the country and provide security.