The Department of Oriental Philosophy and Cultural Studies was founded as a part of the Faculty of Philosophy of St. Petersburg State University by the decision of the Academic Board of the University on November 30, 1998. The foundation of the Department was the result of a long-time preparatory work, and the creation of this new structure became possible due to the popularity of various subjects connected with Oriental philosophy and religion on the Faculty of Philosophy where during many years lectures on subjects connected with Oriental religions and thought systems had been part of the curriculum.
The newly founded department was headed by the world-famous researcher, specialist in the study of Buddhism and the main initiator of the creation of this structure, Professor Evgeniy Torchinov (1956-2003). The first members of the Department were such renowned specialists in Oriental studies as Professor E.Torchinov himself, I. Tantlevskiy, K. Solonin, T. Tumanyan, V. Yemelyanov. Later they were joined by two eminent researchers from the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies (nowadays St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Manuscripts) – M. Kravtsova and A. Paribok, as well as by a number of other young talented researchers and lecturers. Many of them continue their work at the Department at present.
First admission to the Department took place in 1999. The same year the post-graduate program started functioning. At first the Department comprised four different branches of specialization: Chinese culture, Arab culture, Indian culture and Bible studies. The last branch became a separate department in 2012 and since then has been functioning autonomously.
Since 2011 the Department of Oriental Philosophy and Cultural Studies has been offering a Bachelor’s course (before 2011 the so-called Specialist course was in use, where students had to study for 5 years to get a diploma).
Following the Bachelor’s course, students have a possibility to master about 30 special and general courses in Oriental studies and other humanities. They study at least two Oriental languages (specialists-to-be in Indian culture – Sanskrit and Hindi, specialists-to-be in Chinese culture – Chinese and Japanese, specialists-to-be in Arab culture – Arabic and Persian) at the level empowering them to read and understand specific Oriental texts in original. Students can acquire wide and deep knowledge of Oriental culture, religions, philosophy, and social processes, which they can furthermore apply in various spheres. Students get possibilities to participate in the program of practical studies abroad, in the countries they study about. Many graduates of the Department manage to find occupation in the sphere of their professional interests, being engaged in research and pedagogical activities, as well as in the sphere of tourism and business.
Since 2013 the Department has started conducting a Master’s program together with the Bachelor’s one. In 2013 students were first admitted to the Master’s program “Oriental Philosophical Traditions”; in 2014 – to the program “Oriental Artistic Culture”.
The Department has for a long time been not only a pedagogical, but also a research center. Members of the Department regularly participate in international conferences, symposiums and seminars presenting results of their research work. They also get their research works published in leading academic periodicals.
Since 2005 the Department on a regular basis has been publishing a scientific series “ASIATICA” which invites famous specialists in Oriental studies to present their recent research works.
Head: Tumanian Tigran G.