Department of regional geography, planning and environment
Faculty of Natural Sciences at Comenius University
Mlynská dolina B-1, 842 15 Bratislava
tel: +421 (0)2 602 96 437
fax: +421 (0)2 654 29 064
The Department of regional geography was established at The Faculty of natural sciences at Comenius University on 1st September 1974 as the third geographical department (after The Department of physical geography and The Department of economical geography, both established in 1952). At the time, it was the first and sole department of regional geography in former Czechoslovakia.
Analytical disciplines such as geomorphology, settlement geography, industrial geography, etc. dominated in contemporary research as well as in education. The paradox situation has occurred when geography, a complex science originally, had been becoming more and more divided, whereas society and even science have needed to resolve complex and synthetic problems. Such circumstances created the conditions to establish the new department.
Prof. Bašovský, who had proven to be the flexible and ambitious manager, is considered as a founder of the department. He had employed all his abilities and possibilities provided by university and faculty to achieve the goal. The staffs from departments of physical and economical geography respectively were involved in process of creation the very early reseach team of our department. Prof. Lukniš, doc. Fraňo, Dr. Paulov, Dr. Povincová, Dr. Trochtová, Mrs. Krchová and Mrs. Lukačovičová were the first members.
The newly created Department of regional geography had also gained one of the famous people in Slovak geography - prof. Lukniš. While he had been known as a physical geographer and excellent geomorphologist, maybe his lector, prof. Hromádka affected his relationship to regional geography. His monograph Jakubiany issued in 1946 and following works, especially Landscape geography of Jur pri Bratislave and Regional division of Slovak republic in the context of rational development, has become notable examples for the next generations of regional geographers.
|prof. Michal Lukniš|
Prof. Lukniš based his syntheses on physical geography (especially geomorphology), while the base of the syntheses resolved by O. Bašovský was human geography, settlement geography and demogeography in particular. Furthermore, effort to development of systematic regional geography in theoretical level has been provided by J. Paulov and V. Lauko since his arrival in 1978 respectively. Meeting these approaches, their joint and complementarity, has determined the profile of our department and made the significant base for scientific education that is still influencing the scientific mind of our graduates.
Another founder of the department, Jozef Fraňo, was devoted especially to teaching and geography of foreign countries, thus the Department sequentially become the centre of didactics. After the arrival of Dr. Zaťková in 1976 and J. Turkota in 1983, official Section for geographical education were created in 1985. This section moved under the newly created Department of didactics in natural sciences in 1986 and J. Turkota became its first head.
The need for solutions of environmental issues and for expert education in this area had led to the expansion of scientific focus. Apart from aforementioned ones, the environmental issues became the subject of investigation for the new members as Viliam Lauko, Lucian Seko, Emília Čierna and Ivan Veruzáb. Since their arrival, the department became one of the two departments at the Faculty of Natural Sciences that took the function to be the guarantee of newly created branch of study - landscape protecting. Therefore, the department has changed its name to current form – The Department of regional geography, planning and environment.
Other present members are graduates from our department: prof. Ladislav Tolmáči, Dr. Karol Kasala, associated prof. Eva Rajčáková, Dr. Gabriel Zubriczký, Dr. Tibor Blažík, Dr. Angelika Švecová, Dr. Katarína Danielová, associated prof. Daniel Gurňák, associated prof. František Križan and Rastislav Cákoci. In 2005, coming from Slovak academy of Sciences, prof. Anton Bezák has enlarged the number of staff members, even though he had been an old external lecturer since 1986.
Upon the founding, Dr. Oliver Bašovský became the first head. In 1989 was replaced by prof. Ján Paulov and since the 1997 the department has been led by prof. Viliam Lauko.
|Former department's HQ on Trnavské mýto place|
Just after the creation, the department did not have its own offices. The personnel had stayed in their original offices at The department of physical and economical geography located on Rajská street in the centre of Bratislava. In 1979 moved to offices in a building on Trnavské mýto place, which was previously used by meteorologists due to meteorological station installed on the roof. The department was moved to current building in Mlynská dolina in 1987, the time the construction of faculty complex was finished.
The department provides teaching at all degrees of university education: bachelor's, master's and postgradual's within the degree programs as follows:
- geography, regional development and European integration
- geography and demography
- geography in public administration (also as external study)
- geography, geoecology and environment
- geography, cartography and geoinformatics
The Geography, regional development and European integration program at bachelor's degree, the Regional geography, regional development and European integration program at master's degree and the Regional geography program at postgradual's degree is provided by the department as well.
The department takes an important part in preparing of future teachers in following combinations as well:
- mathematics - geography
- biology - geography
- physical education - geography
- geography - IT
Scientific activities of the department include basic and applied research as well. Few years upon the founding, the workers were mostly devoted to analyses of the regional systems. Furthermore, they had concerned to the philosophical and methodological problems of entire geography, modelling issues, landscape creation and preservation issues, urban and rural systems analysis and problems of regional development and integration processes.
At present, the scientific focus of the department aimed to the following issues:
- a complex study of regional structures at different dimensions, synthesis and prognosis emphasizing rational and ecological employment of its potential.
- domestic and foreign regions issues and global trend of worldwide development
- theory of the geography issues study
- development of methods and techniques to regional and macroregional analysis and landscape evaluating
- issues of political geography and geopolicy (boundaries stability, geopolitical development of particular regions)
By its research the department also responds to current challenges and therefore is devoted to
- issues of the regional policy, planning and development of Slovakia in conjunction to European integration
- crossborder cooperation issues
- the issue of transition of post-socialist countries, its regions and localities
- cultural and local identity of particular localities affected by supranational trends
- study of the regional disparities identification as well as the analysis of the causes responsible for differences at regional development
- the issue of marginal regions and its position under superior regional structures
- the study of current urban and rural systems, their problems, current trends in local development, especially suburbanization
- the study of current migration trends, mostly concerned to changes in their spatial structure in post-transitional period
- the issue of socio-pathogen phenomenon, especially unemployment.
- sustainable development issue
- the study of the accessibility, its rates and possibility to be useful in practice
Currently, the department cooperates with all geographical workplaces within the universities in Slovakia. Regarding the foreign cooperation, our partners are in Czech Republic (Olomouc, Prague, Plzeň, České Budejovice, Liberec), Austria (Graz, Klagenfurt, Salzburg, Innsbruck), Germany (Halle-Wittenberg, Dresden, Tübingen, Regensburgu), Hungary (Budapest, Miskolc, Györ), Poland (Warsaw), Slovenia (Maribor), Greece (Thessaloniki), Netherlands (Groningen), Great Britain (London), Portugal (Porto, Lisboa, Aveiro) and United States (New York).
Cooperation with practice
The applied research has been always concerned to regional development of Slovakia. The most important topics have been as follows:
- Regional development proposal of districts located in southern Slovakia prior to 2010
- Socio-economical regionalization of Slovakia I., II.,
- Regional structure of Slovak Republic regarding the two-stage organization of public administration
- Regional and urban system of Slovakia: condition, changes and optimization
- Urban space revalorization in Bratislava
- Potential evaluation and optimization of functional delimitation of large-scale preserved areas in Western Carpathians mts.
- Regional Agenda 21 for Central Hron region.
- Comparation of democracy in institutions of Slovakia and Hungary.
- SUSTRAIN – research of the effect of traffic infrastructure improvement on regional development of frontier regions in EU countries after abolishment of border barriers.
- Models, initiatives and projects of cross-border cooperation in adult education in Europe (Introduction and background information about the frontier regions (Slovak-Austrian cross border region))
The members of the department provide lecture cycles for practice, e.g. for local government employees, businessmen in regional development and regional policy area (assoc. prof. Rajčáková) as well as for academic employees at grammar and high schools (prof. Tolmáči).
The department also takes part in organization of Geographical Olympics for students of grammar and high schools (prof. Lauko).
The department ensures the edition of most of geography-related textbooks, workbooks, atlases for grammar and high school being used at all grades of educational system in Slovakia. Furthermore, the members of department have taken part of creation of many monographs, atlases and encyclopaedias. The most important are Slovakia (especially part II. Nature), Encyclopaedia of Slovakia, Small Slovak Encyclopaedia and Communal lexicon. Recently issued are States in changing centuries (Gurňák, D., 2004), The countries and areas of the World lexicon (Tolmáči, L., et al, 2001) and Geography of the countries of the World (Zubriczký, G., 2009).
MMoreover, the staff members participated on Atlas SSR and Atlas of the Slovak landscape creation. Furthermore, some geography-related keywords in one of the most famous popular-scientific book Encyclopaedia Beliana are explained by members of our department.