Contemporary Chemistry lecture series concludes with a lecture on democracy
A talk on principles and functioning of democracy and the relationship between elites and the common people was the last one for this year’s series of Contemporary Chemistry. Pavel Hobza, who oversees the whole event, introduced Pavel Šaradín, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Arts, Palacký University.
The host Pavel Hobza explained why he decided to involve humanities in the first place. After Jaroslav Doležel, a plant geneticist; Radek Zbořil, a physical chemist; and Marián Hajdúch, a molecular oncologist, Pavel Šaradín represented political science. “It is more and more important to know how our society, or mankind in general, is going to progress in the future. The ability to read social behaviour is becoming more and more important, but this is a challenge for another discipline,” said Pavel Hobza.
A political scientist Pavel Šaradín spoke for more than an hour about a modern conception of society, the history of democracy and its forms along with explaining various terms such as crowd, elites, etc. When assessing the current state of the society, he mentioned the phenomenon of information overload. “Journalists are susceptible to overrating the value of latest news,” said Šaradín. What is usually neglected is context and putting information into the context; information mostly just ‘glides on the surface’ without a deeper meaning. “One negative item of news follows another, totally perplexing us”.
While describing the evolution of the Czech society after 1989, he reminded us that we opted for liberal democracy, which is not flawless, though. “Sometimes when responding to our politicians’ mistakes, we make even a worse choice”, said Šaradín. He demonstrated how the attitude of voters changed over the years, based on the election results. According to him, the traditional model of left wing competing with right wing has disappeared, this being substituted by a clash between big towns and the rest of the country. The voting pattern is different, which arises also from the different social backgrounds. Elections reflect the fact that some people struggle hard to maintain their lives as they have financial worries. Economical inequalities will only increase, disadvantaging all of us,” said Šaradín.
Pavel Šaradín believes that a change in people’s behaviour may be a plausible solution. “The major problem is our reluctance to participate in public life. We show only little interest when it comes to politics or public events in general,” said Šaradín. In the future, democracy will probably take different forms. It will copy the way our society is evolving. It will also be influenced by robotization and progress in IT areas. The society may well become segmented into smaller communities. It is vital that people receive good education. “We probably thought that we would learn to cope with democracy automatically, but it is not working. Along with financial literacy, we need to acquire civic literacy,” added Šaradín.
This lecture series has been organized at the Faculty of Science for 14 years. This time round, it was entitled Science in Olomouc in the year 2019. “My intention was to demonstrate the progress that the science in Olomouc had made over the past few years. All the lectures were an exhibition of excellent science that reached an international level. Listening to the students’ questions and watching how they responded to the speakers, I gathered that science in Olomouc is considered to have made a huge step up. The students are fully aware of all the possibilities that have opened up for them. I’m also glad that the idea of combining science with humanities worked out very well. It is vital that we don’t fail to understand that our future is determined by progress achieved in both areas. Both of these fields have their challenges to rise to,” said Professor Hobza.
Previously the audience in Olomouc could see Jan Pirk, a cardiologist; Josef Koutecký, the founder of children’s oncology in the Czech Republic; Miroslav Bárta, an egyptologist; chemists such as Rudolf Zahradník, Josef Michl, or Michal Hocek; and a physicist Pavel Jelínek.
More information or the videos from the lectures to be find on http://fch.upol.cz/vyuka/soucasna-chemie/.