Ural Federal University: Number of Students Involved in Cultural Volunteering is Increasing

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Sociologists at Ural Federal University found that since 2012 the number of students involved in volunteering in the cultural sphere has increased by 14%. This was facilitated by the state policy to promote volunteering, creative events and projects in Sverdlovsk Region, as well as infrastructure solutions of Ekaterinburg universities to expand the pro-social activity of students. According to the researchers, for students, participation in the socio-cultural life of the region allows, firstly, to form practical skills and help with self-determination in the profession, and secondly, to improve the space in which they live. The results of the study are published in the scientific journal “Issues of Higher Education in Russia”.

“Since 2012, not only has the number of students involved in volunteering increased, but the qualitative characteristics of this activity in the youth environment have also changed. Students with experience in cultural volunteering are twice as likely to say that volunteering is significant for their career development. In 2021, more than 50 cultural events were held in Sverdlovsk Region, in which students, working in teams with professionals, improved their competencies as photographers, translators, copywriters, designers, videographers, event managers, and practiced their skills of working in project teams. In 2022 there will be more than 60 events where volunteers will be needed,” emphasizes Maria Pevnaya, Head of the Department of Sociology and Public and Municipal Administration Technologies at UrFU.

Infrastructural solutions of universities work well for the popularization of students’ cultural volunteering. Sociologists believe that one of the most effective is the implementation of project-based learning. The work of students in the project format contributes to the formation of an active life position of future specialists, forms their ability to identify problem situations in their area of influence and find timely solutions to problems.

“With the help of the project format, young people are introduced to professional activities in a new position as leaders of sectoral change. At the request of third sector organizations, young people are involved in collecting and processing various data, holding events, and organizing information campaigns. Students participate in charity events in the nonprofit sector, and this allows them to learn all the processes of organizing such projects from the inside, and to apply this knowledge in the future not only for employment, but also to implement their own ideas,” explains Maria Pevnaya.

Scientists add that despite the fact that cultural events are entertaining, their organization requires serious effort. Therefore, the involvement of volunteers to work at public events should not be only a recruitment process. Event organizers and universities should pay more attention to work with the inner motivation of young people, improve the practice of volunteer management at the stages of recruitment, training and support.

“The recruiting method is effective in solving current problems, but it doesn’t always work strategically for the future. The student’s choice “do I want to participate, do I have the strength for it” will be more conscious if it is based on their abilities and interests. For example, sociocultural volunteering allows students to assess their abilities, learn how to manage time, and various studies indicate that volunteering improves mental health and prolongs life,” adds Maria Pevnaya.

In the future, scientists will continue to study social and cultural projects and different types of youth participation in them. Sociologists will also identify the peculiarities of youth motivation to volunteer activities and the social effects that such activity gives to young people themselves and the organizers of their activities.

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