The Faculty of Arts at Comenius University celebrates 95 years

“We’ve enjoyed thinking for 95 years” is the anniversary slogan of the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University. The oldest humanities and social sciences faculty in Slovakia is celebrating its anniversary with an academic conference.

19. 10. 2016 07.57 hod.
By: CU Public Relations Office

Over the 95 years of its existence, over 30,000 qualified archaeologists, historians, psychologists, sociologists, teachers, interpreters, translators, journalists, and other professionals in the humanities and social sciences have studied at the faculty.

Studies at the faculty began on 24 October 1921; the Faculty of Arts was the third faculty to open at the newly-established Comenius University. In its first academic year, the faculty had 64 enrolled students, who studied Slavic philology, history, philosophy, ethnography and folkloristics, and music. The aim of the faculty was to provide a higher education to the first generation of Slovak professionals in the social sciences.  

The anniversary conference hopes to dwell on the highs and lows of the faculty’s existence to date. “Dozens of renowned professors have taught at the faculty, and many of our graduates have played a significant role in Slovakia’s development. The faculty’s academic community was among the first to react to the events of November 1989. But there were also moments when the faculty succumbed to the pressures of the times, such as from 1938 to 1945, the period following the communist takeover in 1948, and the normalization era of the 1970s. These darker periods will also be critically evaluated by scholars examining the faculty’s history,” said one of the faculty’s vice-deans, Professor Martin Slobodník.

Today the faculty has nearly 3000 students enrolled in 82 study programmes. The diversity of the study programmes and the extent of the faculty’s accredited authority means it is a national leader among tertiary institutions with a humanities and social sciences focus. The greatest interest among students is in psychology, political science, archaeology, journalism, and the wide range of languages on offer. “A number of study programmes are unique in Slovakia: for instance, within the East Asian Studies programme, students can learn about the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean languages and cultures. Other unique study programmes include tuition in Scandinavian languages and Dutch as well as the Arabic language and culture,” said another faculty vice-dean, Associate Professor Mariana Szapuová.

The faculty is developing its level of international cooperation; exchange programmes for students, including those at doctoral level, are in full operation, and scientists and researchers are actively engaged in international scientific projects. Faculty staff are currently a part of two projects in the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme and are running eleven projects supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency. The faculty has four elite teams in the humanities and social sciences.

It is also an organizer of a number of activities for the wider public. These activities include the “Shared Country” project for high school students in various regions of Slovakia; Political scientists from the Faculty of Arts and journalists from the Denník N newspaper are currently travelling to the “forgotten regions” of Slovakia to engage in debates about the values of tolerance, freedom, and justice in order to understand and stop the spreading of extremist opinions among young people. Current international events are being dealt with in a project entitled “Ukraine in Movement”, where over the course of one year experts from the Department of Russian and East European Studies are presenting Ukraine from a number of perspectives at a series of events with the aim of disproving false information and rejecting negative stereotypes. “We are making the effort to ensure that our research projects have a real impact on society, that they help in the formation of critical thinking and attitudes to values, and that they react to current issues in society. Our aim is to make thinking a fun endeavour for everyone,” asserted another faculty vice-dean, Professor Darina Malová.

Conference programme (PDF file)