What can the University of West Bohemia do for the future of the world?

Students University Employees

This year the University of West Bohemia entered another 5-year period, the underlying principles of which are laid out in its strategic intent for the period 2021–2025. What ideas formed the strategic intent and what is its creed? Read the following article by UWB Rector, Miroslav Holeček.

Everyone knows the feeling of what it is like to plan making an important investment or the purchase of a new car. In our mind, we imagine something much better than what we have now. The possibilities are endless and we can dream up the ideal choice. However, the road leading to it is paved with compromises and in the end what is left of the ideal choice is something much more down-to-earth. However, the original dreams are of extraordinary significance, as they show us the way forward, and in one way or another affect the final realization. 

When more than a year ago UWB's leadership started to contemplate the university's new strategic plan, we came up with bold plans for new visions. It is obviously tempting to imagine our university as one of the principal European centers of education and advanced research, a university that also represents a major potential for the educational development of our city and region, and whose third role transcends not only the borders of the Pilsen Region, but also that of the Czech Republic. From the very beginning, we knew that we had to be as realistic as possible and thus tried to define our beautiful visions in ways that are executable.

We started to think about what is most essential. What is it that makes a university great? It is certainly its reputable research, cooperation with industry, excellent international cooperation… But first and foremost, a university is primarily a school. Education is the most fundamental priority. However, the quality of education is harder to measure, verify and determine than the quality of science or application results. What does it mean to want to be a state-of-the-art educational institution? What will determine that we in fact are one?

When you reminisce about your school days, you are sure to remember some teachers. The ones that we remember fondly are those who not only taught us well, but enriched our lives in other ways as well. At school reunions, we might say that this or that teacher was strict, demanding, but also fair and that we had a lot of respect for them. Yes, it is mainly teachers, second only to family, who mold us into who we become and whose behavior reflects the values which we adopt and apply in our own lives.

Even at university, we are still teachers. It is not important whether we teach an essential course, teach a practical seminar or work in a laboratory with students on their theses or with PhD students on their research assignments. We interact with young people who watch and evaluate us, and apart from the knowledge gained through such interaction, they also take away something we might not even realize. Young people spend a number of years at university, at an age when their civic awareness is formed and when they engage in a number of significant interpersonal interactions and start to seriously ponder not only what they will become, but also who they will become.

What should our graduates be like? They should have the best knowledge possible in their field as well as awareness of a wider context. And most importantly, they should be responsible people who do not take at face value every "guaranteed" piece of information, but evaluate facts critically and are able to make a responsible decision and defend certain values. These are qualities that a number of politicians lack. However, the new generation of politicians will come from today's youth, including those that we can have a direct influence on.

Our responsibility for the future of the world is enormous. This led to the creed of our new strategic intent: The best thing that WE can do for the future of the world is to help YOU to do it. In it, we embrace the responsibility for the future of the world. It is not about our inventions, scientific discoveries and publications, the curricula of new study programs or works of art as such, but the fact that all of the above will contribute to the formation of today's young generation is most important of all.

This is the fundamental idea that our strategic intent is built upon. Without a doubt, we want to be better at science, the third role, high-quality interdisciplinary education, and internationalization, but most of all, we want to have young people in the forefront of our minds, people whom we form, through these activities, that make a contribution towards a better world. This is predicated on approaching all our activities with maximum responsibility. If students can see what respect is gained from achieving a research result or that a company is willing to pay well for a good idea, they will begin to understand the value of good-quality work, and mainly the quality of thoughts built on critical and patient research. If students see that during the course they learn about complex issues in an interesting way, they will learn to appreciate and respect thorough and understandable expression of ideas and perhaps develop resistance to banal platitudes and clichés of any kind. Yes, we have a big responsibility. The strategic intent 2021–2025 attempts to express it and project it into our daily lives.

The four basic priorities represent pillars intended to be specific milestones towards which we want to steer our basic activities. We want to strengthen interdisciplinarity in education and creative activity, as the link and cooperation between various fields is our strong suit, which we want to further develop in the future. Our priorities also include connecting education and creative activity with practice. We want to strengthen our cooperation with international institutions. Our geographical position as well as our long-term cooperation with Bavaria present a challenge for us to further intensify these ties. We also understand the university's role as presenting a benefit for the region, utilizing its potential and at the same time strengthening it and contributing to increasing its value and attractiveness for students as well as international cooperation. Apart from its influence in the Pilsen Region, our university has an exceptional position with respect to the Karlovy Vary Region, where the branch of UWB that operates there is the only public higher education institution in the region. We should therefore continue to build up and strengthen our presence there, which is one of our priorities.

An academic environment is a creative and stimulating one because it's independent. We want to continue to do everything we can to further develop this independence so as to limit the restrictions on the creative potential of individuals and their independent growth. But there should be something that will connect us, and we believe that it is our creed, i.e., the idea that our activity, however free and independent, is burdened with great responsibility, a responsibility for the future world that is in the hands of the young generation, on which, for a certain period of time, we can have a significant influence.

The University of West Bohemia’s Strategic Intent for the Period 2021-2025 is available in the strategic documents on the UWB website.


Šárka Stará

19. 05. 2021