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History

The Department of Human Geography and Demography belongs to the oldest geographical institutions in Slovakia (altogether with current Geographical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Comenius University). It is important to mention that during its history, the department changed its name for a few times. Original name – Department of Economic Geography (since 1952), had been replaced by name Department of Social and Economic Geography in 1986. Last two changes happened after 1989. Since 1992 the department had used name Department of Human Geography and Demogeography, finally transformed to its current name – Department of Human Geography and Demography in 2012. At present, the department belongs to the largest university geography departments in Slovakia, the only one specialised in human geography and demography, with high number of PhD students.

Although established officially in 1952, the department follows the tradition of „anthropogeography“ that had been developing within the Comenius University since twenties of the 20th century, predominantly thanks to Czech geographers (first lectures in geography could attend students at Comenius University in school year 1921/1922). Besides foundation of separate organisational unit for geography („Geographical Seminar“) within Comenius University Faculty of Letters (1923), substantial shift documented foundation of separate „Anthropogeography Seminar“ in 1938. Professors J. Král and J. Hromádka can be considered as the main representatives of anthropogeography at that time Comenius University (although their interests were manifold).

More strengthened position of geography at the Comenius University (but in Slovak science in general) had been achieved in year 1940, thanks to formation of Geographical Institute (chaired by J. Hromádka) within the framework of newly established Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Slovak University (name used in 1939-1945). It opened possibilities for formation of new generation of Slovak geographers, also after the World War II (within anthropogeography we can mention Š. Fekete, J. Verešík, J. Kosír).

Key historical point concerning the development of the department had been foundation of Faculty of Geological and Geographical Sciences at Comenius University. Geographical Institute had been divided into Department of Economic Geography and Department of Physical Geography (in 1952). As a result of these processes, first specialised university department had been established focusing on research and university education in economic geography in Slovakia. Its first chair had been A. Šíma. Working position within the department obtained for example V. Lobotka, M. Čorný, K. Ivanička. The department had been again integrated into Faculty of Natural Sciences in 1959, as a result of reorganisation processes at the faculty level. At that time, K. Ivanička became the chair of the department. The department had been growing afterwards, thanks to increase in number of employees (among them we can mention O. Bašovský, J. Paulov, J. Mládek, J. Slosiarik, later also E. Otrubová, P. Miššeje). Members of the department substantially contributed to the development of that time Slovak geography. Their research focused on issues in geography of industry, settlement and population studies, tourism, as well as introduction of numerous methodological innovations. Large number of extensive research projects outcomes in economic geography had been published, for example in special journal editions of Acta Facultatis Rerum Naturalium Universitatis Comenianae – Geographica. The department strengthened its status by obtaining the rights to complete degrees at the third level of university education (comparable to current PhD studies). In seventies, the department contributed to foundation of the third geographical department within the Comenius University (Department of Regional Geography) by transfer of part of its staff (1974). New chair of the department had been M. Zaťko. New staff members included later life long department members P. Korec, P. Spišiak and V. Slavík. They intensified research in geography of transport, agriculture and settlement. Most of the department’s that time members significantly contributed to elaboration of the representative Atlas of the Slovak Socialist Republic (1980). In 1981, J. Mládek had been appointed as new chair of the department. Personal growth supported transfer of staff previously working at the Pedagogical Faculty in Trnava (J. Sabaka), and contracting of new scientific workers as V. Sameliak, D. Jurčová, J. Buček (during second half of eighties). Numerous books, university textbooks, scientific articles had been completed in this period. The department covered at that time majority of standard partial disciplines of economic and social geography, as well as set of additional disciplines (as statistics, informatics).

Deep societal changes after year 1989 generated new challenges for the department and initiated strong revitalisation in its work. New chair of the department had been V. Slavík and later P. Korec. Besides traditional themes in research, increased attention to newly emerging issues like unemployment, regional social and economic differentiation, transformation processes (e.g. in cities), or public administration reorganization. New subjects, also reflecting rising number of students and their diverse needs were introduced into study programmes. As a response to societal demand, the department started to provide also distant form of education focusing on needs of transformed public administration. In 1997, J. Mládek had been again appointed as the chair of the department. Afterwards (in 1998), growing department had been divided into two parts – Human Geography Division (led by P. Korec) and Demogeography and Demography Division (led by J. Mládek). It also reflected rising attention to population development issues. The department is the only one providing education in demography and population studies in Slovakia. Personal composition of the department enhanced new colleagues, for example D. Kusendová, M. Horňák, I. Bučeková. In 2000, P. Korec had been appointed for the position of chair of the department, J. Mládek for chairing demogeography and demography division, and J. Buček for chairing human geography division. The department expanded in its staff number during this period, thanks to new research and teaching contracts given to R. Fila, G. Nováková (Gregorová), E. Džupinová, A. Rochovská, B. Bleha, V. Bačík. Such expansion led to growing number of research projects and publication outcomes. Distant studies were upgraded also to master level. Among the most important joint results, we can consider Population Atlas of the Slovak Republic, altogether with Demographic Analysis of Slovakia (2006). Since this year, B. Bleha started to chair the demogeography and demography division. This decade after year 2000 had been typical by rising attention to research in regional development and policy, urban structures, population development and structures, population forecasting, marginal regions, poverty and social exclusion, public policies and public administration organisation, cross-border and inter-municipal cooperation, geoinformatics, local economic development etc. Education quality had been improved by set of new university textbooks. To the end of this decade among new colleagues we can find M. Káčerová, J. Majo and S. Ondoš. Management of the department has changed in 2011. J. Buček has been appointed as chair of the department and P. Korec and B. Bleha as chairs of its two divisions. Thanks to new research projects and opened position at the department contracts obtained J. Rusnák, M. Plešivčák, M. Klobučník and M. Roupa.

Member of the department hold important positions within the Faculty of Natural Science of the Comenius University. J. Mládek, P. Korec and B. Bleha had been working as Vice-Deans. As a Chairs of the Academic Senate of the Faculty had served P. Spišiak and J. Buček.

Historic location of the department had been Rajská street No. 12 in Bratislava city centre, until 1986. This was the site of geographers since the second half of thirties of the 20th century. Since 1986 the department is based in its current location in Mlynská dolina, not far from Danube river and University Botanic Garden, within the buildings of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.



Heads of the Department
1952-1958 - Prof. Anton Šíma
1958-1974 - Prof. Koloman Ivanička
1974-1981 - Prof. Michal Zaťko
1981-1990 - Prof. Jozef Mládek
1990 - Dr. Vladimir Slavík
1990-1997 - Prof. Pavol Korec
1997-2000 - Prof. Jozef Mládek
Since 2000 - Prof. Pavol Korec




 
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