VMU Graduates Discussed Intellect and Freedom


On Friday 14 March, VMU organised the university’s alumni forum entitled Intellect and Freedom, a stimulating and entertaining discussion by five independent and creative personalities: biochemist Skirmantas Kriaučionis, photographer Artūras Morozovas, Lithuania’s UNESCO Ambassador Arūnas Gelūnas, professional dancer Marius Pinigis and producer, manager Gintarė Masteikaitė. The forum was moderated by writer, TV producer and VMU lecturer Rytis Zemkauskas.

The event began with the modern dance theatre show D&G, which was performed by VMU graduate Marius Pinigis and fellow dancer Mantas Stabačinskas.

Video by Kristijonas Jakubsonas

Photos by Jonas Petronis

You may view the video recording of the entire discussion (held in Lithuanian) here.

Discovering Freedom in Daily Life

The forum’s participants were five Vytautas Magnus University graduates who firmly believe in the value of freedom and knowledge. Each of them has discovered their own unique way to keep improving and enjoy various forms of liberation.

Biochemist Skirmantas Kriaučionis’ scientific DNA research is one of the decade’s most significant achievements in epigenetics. Its author has been working in universities abroad for more than ten years already and is currently the head of a research lab at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of Oxford.

Kriaučionis says that the work at the lab gave him the scientific freedom to choose the research project himself. “However, this job requires dedication: we work really hard but what drives us is the desire to discover something new and help people”, the biochemistry expert explains.

“I don’t give a lot of meaning to material possessions. I do my best to avoid the ruse of consumer culture and remain unattached to a place of residence: these are the forms of freedom which I care about and which allow me to dream and strive to make those dreams come true without any restrictions”, another VMU alum, photojournalist Artūras Morozovas, says.

As a freelancer who works for both Lithuanian and foreign press, Morozovas is frequently on the frontlines of news stories. As a clear testament to his talent, the Lithuanian photographer’s photos have been published in some of the most popular press outlets in the world: TIME, The Guardian, Paris Match, Daily Mail, Newsweek, etc.

Events in the Independence Square in Kiev through the photo lens of Artūras Morozovas

Daring to Dream and Aiming for Ambition

The VMU Alumni Forum also provided an opportunity for Lithuania’s UNESCO Ambassador Arūnas Gelūnas to share his rich experience in a variety of occupations: Gelūnas is a recognised graphic artist, philosopher, former associated professor of Vilnius Academy of Arts, and a connoisseur of Japanese paintings.

Arūnas Gelūnas is no stranger to ambitious projects: for two years he served as the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, and currently he is representing Lithuania’s interests in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which promotes international collaboration through education, science and culture in order to encourage universal respect for justice, laws and fundamental human rights.

“The greatest joy, and also the greatest unease, is derived from breaking out of your comfort zone and confronting yourself, your abilities, desires and fears”, the forum’s fourth participant Gintarė Masteikaitė says. After spending eight years as manager of cultural projects at Aura Dance Theatre and gaining an interesting experience as coordinator of Aura International Dance Festival, the VMU alum insists that she felt the taste of true liberation only when she dared to challenge herself yet again.

“I decided to change my life and quit the job I enjoyed very much in order to test myself in even more diverse activities and projects”, Masteikaitė explains.

It All Started With a Dance

VMU Vice Rector for Public Relations Prof. Auksė Balčytienė contended that the forum was an opportunity for everyone to get a bit more familiar with VMU graduates who have developed some extraordinary life practices that originated at the university and have continued to this day.

“Vytautas Magnus University, which is celebrating the 25th reestablishment anniversary this year, is free, creative and willing to share its knowledge, ideas and experiences. We want the university to be the space where ideas and people meet, where no one is afraid to ask and seek scenarios for future projects”, prof. Balčytienė explained the event’s concept.

The discussion was moderated by TV journalist, host, producer, writer and VMU lecturer Rytis Zemkauskas. The event began with the professional modern dance theatre show D&G, which was performed by VMU graduate Marius Pinigis and fellow dancer Mantas Stabačinskas.

The performance used artistic expression to speak about the discussion’s topics: freedom and bravery. It sought to determine the correlation between the heroes of the 20th century and the modern man of today. The show’s authors aimed to take a different look at the legendary, historical flight Lituanica and the two Lithuanian aircraft pilots, Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas, who flew from New York, USA across the Atlantic Ocean only to tragically crash 650 km from their destination, Kaunas, Lithuania, in 1933. At 6,411 km and a little over 37 hours, the flight ranked second in distance globally and fourth in duration.

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