Čestní doktoři Univerzity Karlovy 1848–2015
[Doctors Honoris Causa of Charles University, 1848–2015]
Petráň, Josef – Petráňová, Lydia
paperback, 388 pp., 1. edition
published: april 2018
recommended price: 420 czk
The tradition of honorary doctorates, which was introduced at Western European universities at the end of the 15th century, was adopted rather late at the university in Prague. In addition, the impulse for this was different than elsewhere. In 1848, many prominent figures received doctorates honoris causa and honorary membership in doctoral colleges in order to increase the glamour of the celebrations organized on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the establishment of higher education in Prague. The university, by awarding doctorates honoris causa, strengthened the level of the national educated elites as well as of increased its own international prestige. Up until 1945, the selection of candidates would be accompanied by clashes of contradictory nationalistic and ideological views and interests, including those following the split of the institution into Czech and German universities in 1882. The scholars strive to encompass the prevalent ideological trends in the various historical periods as well as the extent to which the state affected academic freedoms. The structure of the book thus reflects the history of the university as well as social development in general. The celebrations of the 600th anniversary of Charles University’s foundation, which were to culminate in the awarding honorary doctoral degrees to many prominent foreign figures on April 6, 1948, were negatively affected by the communist coup d’état in February as well as the ensuing events. This was not rectified until after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 through a belated presentation of awards. Doctor honoris causa awards presented on April 8, 1998, on the occasion of the 650th anniversary of the establishment of Charles University followed new principles enacted in 2000 in the new code for awarding honorary doctorates, which established that they would be awarded to figures who have significant merit in the development of science and culture or otherwise the advancement of humankind on the international scale and who had at the same time demonstrated their direct relationship to Charles University.