Appointing of the First UNESCO Chair in Slovenia
26 June 2014
The process of getting chosen for the UNESCO chair was successfully completed this June (26.6.2014), with the signing of an agreement between UNG and UNESCO. At UNG, an UNESCO Chair was founded and called UNESCO Chair on Karst Education. There still exists a strong collaboration on this with the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute. Out of the 800 UNESCO Chairs in 132 countries, this is the first UNESCO Chair in Slovenia.
Already thirteen years ago, the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute from Postojna gave the idea and the initiative to the University of Nova Gorica (called the Polytechnic University of Nova Gorica then) to start with the graduate program in karstology. In 2002, UNG and ZRC SAZU signed an Agreement on long-term partnership. Among other initiatives, it also included collaboration in terms of educational and research activities concerning the planning and the execution of the graduate program in karstology. The program was prepared by the researchers of the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute from Postojna. Thus, in 2003, the University of Nova Gorica accredited a uniform four-year doctoral program – karstology, and a two-year master’s program, also titled Karstology. When higher education system was reformed in Slovenia in 2007 according to the Bologna requirement, the University of Nova Gorica, in collaboration with the ZRC SAZU Karst research Institute, prepared a revised three-year doctoral program in karstology. It substituted the previous two graduate programs in karstology.
The doctoral program in karstology is being carried out at University of Nova Gorica’s Graduate School, where all the doctoral programs at UNG are carried out. The school is tightly connected with the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute. The lectures and all the research are carried out at the Research Institute, where the students get all the professional and scientific support for their research work. The Head of the program who monitors the execution of the program, as well as all the course principals and mentors are well-established and internationally known scholars of karstology from the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute. Moreover, several professors from our partner universities abroad are part of the program.
Our three-year doctoral program in karstology (III. Level) is the only doctoral program of this sort in the world and the only program that gives you the title “doctor of science in the field of karstology.” The program is distinctly international and since the very beginning, we have had a large number of foreign students in the program. We have had students from North, Central and South America, from around Europe and from Asia.
The University of Nova Gorica and the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute filed an application for the establishing of the UNESCO Chair on Karst Education in the beginning of the year 2002 (26. 4. 2012) and added additional points to the application in 2013 and 2014. The process of getting chosen for the UNESCO chair was successfully completed this June (26.6.2014), with the signing of an agreement between UNG and UNESCO. At UNG, an UNESCO Chair was founded and called UNESCO Chair on Karst Education. There still exists a strong collaboration on this with the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute. The UNESCO Chair at the same time also became part of the UNESCO’s networking program between universities (UNESCO UNITWIN) that has been established in 1992 and is geared towards collaboration between universities.
The UNESCO Chair on Karst Education is closely connected with the Karst Academy established at the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute. It joins together all the Karst related institutions of this world and also the International Union of Speleology. The latter has had its permanent headquarters at the Karst Research Institute since 1991.
The main tasks of the UNESCO Chair on Karst Education are: the carrying out of the graduate program on Karts, the strengthening of consciousness on the importance of Karst sustainability and protection, promotion of sustainability development of Karst regions, the exchange of experiences and knowledge between universities and other higher education institutions, close collaboration with UNESCO in terms of programs and activities, and collaboration with UNESCO’s world heritage places and geoparks.
We are convinced that the UNESCO Chair on Karst Education will continue to importantly contribute to the development and the spreading of the Karst scholarship on a global scale and will help with application possibilities and collecting of money for students’ tuition fees and accommodation fees during their studies. UNESCO’s support will additionally strengthen our mission.
Out of the 800 UNESCO Chairs in 132 countries, this is the first UNESCO Chair in Slovenia.
This is one of the rare Chairs that deal with natural sciences and education and the only one that deals with karstology. This is an exceptional honor for Slovenia, as well as the University of Nova Gorica, the ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute, and Slovene karstology as such.