The Comenius Academic Club 2015: Representatives of the University of Pardubice at the Conference in New York

From 19th to 21st June 2015, the Third Annual Conference of Czech-American scholarly society The Comenius Academic Club (CAC), which was founded in New York City, NY in 2012 and brings together renowned intellectuals in various fields of natural sciences and humanities, took place in the USA. Two representatives of the University of Pardubice are full members of the CAC: prof. PhDr. Petr Vorel, CSc., The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, and prof. Ing. Jiří Málek, DrSc. from the Faculty of Chemical Technology (see http://comeniusacademicclub.org).
 
O úspěšné spolupráci česko-americké vědecké společnosti The Comenius Academic Club svědčí v pořadí již třetí společné setkání, které se letos konalo v americkém New Yorku

The First Conference of the CAC was held in New York City from 29th to 30th June 2013. The Second Conference was hosted by the University of Pardubice from 13th to 15th June 2014 (in collaboration with the Václav Havel Library and supported by the US Embassy in the Czech Republic and other institutions). As two years ago, this year's Conference took place in Bohemian National Hall on Manhattan's Upper East Side and several academic members of the University of Pardubice attended.
 
The Conference was opened with an exhibition on J. A. Comenius
The program of the Conference started on 19th June with Education for All: The Legacy of J. A. Comenius to the World exhibition which was prepared by dr. Markéta Pánková, Director of the National Pedagogical Museum and Library of J. A. Comenius, Prague. On this occasion, prestigious prizes were awarded – Comenius Memorial Medal to prof. Zdeněk David, renowned historian working for the Wilson Center (Washington, D.C.), prof. Vlado Šimko, famous gastroenterologist (State University of New York, Brooklyn, NY) and Rochelle Hendricks, the Secretary of Higher Education of New Jersey. The Exhibition was enriched by a musical performance by Karel Raška IV. and Magdalena Rašková, grandchildren of prof. Karel Raška, Jr., the main organizer of the Conference, the Chairman of the Comenius Academic Club, and world-renowned immunologist and molecular virologist working for the Saint Peter’s University Hospital and the Rutgers University, NJ.
 
The humanities took the floor first 
Ing. Martin Dvořák, the Consul General of the Czech Republic in New York, started the first day of the Conference (Saturday 20th June) by welcoming participants in the Bohemian National Hall and assuring guests – especially the guests from Pardubice – that, as a former mayor of the city of Hradec Králové, he will take the utmost care of them. After that, prof. Jaroslav Pánek, the former Vice-Rector of the Charles University in Prague, the Deputy Chair of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Pardubice, took the floor and with prof. Petr Vorel, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of the University of Pardubice, awarded the Honorary Membership of the Czech Society of Historians to prof. Zdeněk David.

The Saturday opening speech – Legacy of the Czech Reformation (in relation to the current six hundredth anniversary of the death of Master Jan Hus) – was held by dr. Ivo Říha, the head of Department of Literary Culture and Slavonic Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of the University of Pardubice, who focused on the importance of Czech reformation tradition to recent history and the present time (the line connecting Jan Hus, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Václav Havel). Followed by presentations of prof. Zdeněk David (Perennial Hus: Interpretation from the Protestant Reformation through the Enlightenment), prof. Petr Vorel (Importance of the Bohemian Reformation for the Political Culture of Central Europe During the 15th–17th centuries), prof. Jaroslav Pánek (The Bohemian Reformation and the Metamorphoses of Czech Culture), and prof. Karel Rýdl, the Vice-Rector of the University of Pardubice and the member of the Department of Education of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of the University of Pardubice (To the Heritage of Comenius in the U.S.A.).
 
Discussing educational systems and science evaluation trends
Afternoon section moderated by dr. Markéta Pánková was focused on current issues in educational systems (Current Issues in Educational Systems). Followed by the speeches of doc. Tomáš Kasper from the Technical University of Liberec (Educational System in the Czech Republic: History and Challenges), prof. J. Barron Boyd from the Rhodes College, Memphis, TN (Liberal Arts and Challenges of American Higher Education), Rochelle Hendricks (System of Public Education in the State of New Jersey), dr. Ilona Ďatko from the Department of Education of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of the University of Pardubice (American High School Systems in Views of Czech Pedagogues), and doc. Slavoj Czesaný from the University of Economics, Prague (The Czech Republic’s International Standing in Education).

After a short break, Saturday program proceeded to an important point: prof. Jiří Málek, the Deputy Chair of the Committee for Research, Development and Innovation, brought forward a thorough analysis titled One Year Experience with the New System of Evaluation of the Czech Science. Afterwards, the presentation turned fluently into collective discussion on current forms and trends in the evaluation of Czech science. Prof. Jiří Drahoš, the Chairman of the Czech Academy of Sciences and one of the most renowned guests of the Conference, made many significant contributions to the discussion.

To conclude the first proceeding day, the organizers of the Conference invited all participants and other guests to a dinner in Nino's Restaurant on First Avenue near Bohemian National Hall.
 
The Sunday dedicated to natural sciences
In contrast to Saturday which was packed with humanities expert sections, Sunday (21st June) was dedicated to chemistry, biology and medicine. Intellectuals who are among the absolute top in their fields – not only in the Czech Republic – were included in a presentation section titled The Impact of Chemistry on Modern Society. The proceedings started with the opening speech of prof. Karel Raška, Jr. Followed by the presentations of prof. Ján Vilček from the New York University Medical Center, NY (Treatment of Autoimmune Disease with TNF Inhibitors: From Modest Beginnings to Unforeseen Successes), dr. Marcela Krečmerová from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Nucleotide Analogs as Life Saving Drugs), doc. Jan Konvalinka from Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Looking for Achilles Heel of a Virus: Inhibitors of HIV Protease as Antiviral Drugs and Research Tools), prof. Libor Grubhoffer, the Rector of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice (Biological Chemistry of Vectors and Pathogens), prof. Jiří Drahoš (Fractal and Chaotic Hydrodynamics of Multiphase Reactors), and prof. Jiří Málek (Challenges in Amorphous Chalcogenide Materials Research).

After final discussion with all speakers and other guests, prof. Karel Raška, Jr. concluded the Conference and passed the symbolic baton back to the Czech Republic. Host of the Fourth Annual Conference of The Comenius Academic Club will be the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice in summer 2016. Representatives of the University of Pardubice will surely attend.
 
PhDr. Ivo Říha, Ph.D.
Department of Literary Culture and Slavonic Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of the University of Pardubice