How do we make European society more resilient? 

Another priority is social resilience (or Resilient Society), which is based on the programme of the same name within the framework of the Strategy AV21 of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), coordinated by the Institute of Philosophy of the CAS. Resilience refers to the ability of a system to cope successfully, or even grow, when facing a crisis, an unexpected or threatening emergency, and/or a change in living conditions. “Such a crisis for society has been the COVID-19 pandemic and, in recent months, the war in Ukraine as well,” says Tomáš Kostelecký from the Academy Council of the CAS. 

“The main event will be the 'Facets of Resilience' conference, which I am organising with Petra Guasti and which will take place from 21 to 23 November 2022. We want to instigate a broadscale debate across the scientific community, government institutions, and the public sphere about the fundamental issues of contemporary society,” says Alice Koubová from the Institute of Philosophy of the CAS, the programme coordinator.

Are we resilient enough as a society?

Assoc. Prof. Alice Koubová, from the Institute of Philosophy of the CAS, answers below.

The Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) will focus on three thematic areas during the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU. What activities are you planning as part of the research area you are coordinating? 

Our main event will be the “Facets of Resilience” conference, which I am organising with Petra Guasti from the Institute of Sociology of the CAS. It will take place on 21–23 November 2022. We want to instigate a debate across the scientific community, government institutions, and the public sphere about the fundamental issues of contemporary society. The standard of scientific excellence will be ensured by Czech and international experts alike – including British visual semiotician David Chandler. We’ve also invited representatives of institutions that are key to social resilience, and we will be surveying the Czech environment. We will welcome representatives active in civil society and the field of decision-making to participate in workshops. In an evening performance, the Tantehorse theatre ensemble will perform the results of artistic research on the topic of resilience. We believe that this will deepen the understanding of the topic in Czech society, which in itself constitutes a resilience-enhancing intervention. 

The fields of research presented are also the ones which CAS institutes are involved in via the CAS Strategy AV21 research programmes. Is the choice of topics deliberate, not least in order to give them more visibility and to acquire additional forms of support, including funding? 

The CAS Strategy AV21 and its programmes have long supported research activities that take public interest into consideration. For years now, these programmes have focused on research that responds to contemporary social challenges. They were selected by the Academy Council in a competitive process and their relevance has been proven. For this reason, it was proposed that the key topics for the Czech Presidency should be selected from among these programmes. 

How do you assess the scientific footprint of the Czech Republic in Europe today? How has our membership in the EU helped us in this respect? 

Given its scope and level of funding, Czech science has made a significant mark internationally – but most often in the form of exceptional achievements by individual researchers. Czech science would benefit from greater integration of international researchers into our teams and increased support of mobility. We could then operate on a broader and more systematic scale within the networks of European research. We Czech researchers are valued by our colleagues as partners in European projects, but we should also strive to lead and coordinate Horizon Europe and ERC projects in the Czech Republic to a greater extent. 

Will it be more difficult in the coming months and years to promote research priorities on a pan-European scale? Or could this be, conversely, an opportunity to convince politicians to invest more resources in science and research? 

In times of crises, it is always useful to focus on the public interest. Politicians do not invest their personal resources in science and research. Politicians have the task of allocating the resources entrusted to them so that we as a society are able to endure the crises ahead of us as efficiently and therefore as cheaply as possible. It is undoubtedly less expensive to invest in prevention and in increasing our preparedness for the future – to which science, including the social sciences and humanities, makes a massive contribution – than to fund the drastically more costly consequences of problems left unaddressed. In a time of disinformation and information overload, politicians should be aware of how much science acts as a credible beacon in the public interest. At the same time, science should explicitly focus on increasing competence in problem-solving in society and should in this context promote the relevance of all scientific fields indiscriminately. Researchers must also communicate their results, as well as their methodology, clearly to the public. 

Conference | Facets of Resilience

DATE: 21–23 November 2022


PROGRAMME: will be announced soon.



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