What is a role of universities during a time of crisis?

What can you do when a ground is shaking and it starts to destroy your house, bit by bit? Sure, you call a structural analyst to find out, whether your house is still intact and a safe place to live in.

Our society experienced one such a tremor (COVID-19 pandemic). We have to expect, that this is not the last time we experinced something like this and how it affected our society and its main pillars. The question is, whether some pillars got damaged and are in a desperate need of repair.

One of the mentioned pillars of our society (besides non-profit organisations, civic and community associations, state and private institutions etc.) are universities.

We experienced what it is like to be struck by a tremor (crisis) and we keep sharing this experience. We reacted by helping in any way we could (with various services, material and manpower).

We just witnessed how many roles are universities able to substitute during the time of crisis. Even in our county, universities sometimes reacted faster than other state administration and has temporarily taken care of various services and material needs, which the state did not manage to fully cover at first (due to a various administrative, legislation and manpower problems).

There have been doubts about the meaning of public non-profit organizations and the education sphere. At the same time, the phenomenon called Social Responsibility started to positively expand throughout our society and not just in a connection with companies, but also with various other institutions and the state itself. It is time to openly discuss this topic on the highest possible level.

During the last year (17th of September 2020), representatives from the Czech public universities gathered around a table and tried to ignite the debate about the influence of educational, cultural and non-profitable organisations and their contribution to our society.

We are glad to be a part of this (as one of organisers). We constantly need to figure out, whether our society is a good place to live, not just in times of tremors. Miracles sometimes do happen and connect profitable and non-profitable organisations face to face to a certain situation. We need to remind ourselves, more than ever before, that we need both these spheres to be healthy, to grow and expand and to develop their capacity as much, as we possibly can.