16.10.2017 change 16.10.2017

Rector of the University of Warsaw: Poland faces an invasion of anti-scientific attitudes

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

In the Polish public discourse we are dealing with an invasion of anti-scientific attitudes - stressed Rector of the University of Warsaw Prof. Marcin Pałys, who inaugurated the new academic year at the University of Warsaw on Monday. Approx. 44 thousand students started studies at the university.

"The university is all of us. The academic community consists of scientists and other university staff, PhD students and, of course, students" - said Marcin Pałys and reminded that participation in the life of the university, in addition to cognitive satisfaction, is connected with responsibility. He drew attention to the present and, in his opinion, very disturbing phenomena in the Polish public space.

"Populism, which dominates politics, the media, and even the language of large social groups, is expressed, among other things, in the affirmation of simplification, half-truths, unrefined thinking. We see attempts to solve problems without reference to science, some of them contrary to scientific standards. In the public discourse we are dealing with an invasion of anti-scientific attitudes that negate the achievements of generations of scholars and the sense of orderly thinking on which science is based" - said Prof. Pałys.

"Because it\'s not like we have homeopathy, quack doctors, anti-vaccine movements and another view, which is called medicine. Science is not one of many views" - he stressed.

He appealed to those who engage in public debates - not only in the media but also at universities - to show respect for their opponents. "We have to resist the tendencies that are dangerous to the culture of word, dialogue, and culture of thinking. University is not a ring" - he emphasised.

The Rector of the University of Warsaw also referred to the proposal of changes in Polish science and in higher education, or the assumptions of the so-called Law 2.0, presented in September by the Minister of Science, Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin. Pałys emphasized that in general the proposed of changes, worked out in dialogue with the academic community, responded to the expectations of researchers and academic teachers.

"We are concerned, however, with the voices emerging in the public space, suggesting that the compromises and solutions worked out in the course of discussion may be ignored at a later stage of the work on the bill" - he said and noted that the dialogue with the ministry had not yet been finished.

"With careful reading of the law and the transitional provisions, it is clear that there are still some elements that need improvement, some shortcomings, omissions and contradictions, which may make it difficult to implement the main objectives of the law. In places it is still a patchwork of ideas" - noted Prof. Pałys.

He also gave concrete examples of the changes that, in his assessment, needed improvement. Referring to the proposed increase in university autonomy, the Rector of the University of Warsaw noted that the state authorities still lacked full confidence in the academic community.

Another example of a lack of confidence were, as he said, the proposed rules concerning the procedure for awarding degrees. "The role of university, especially in the habilitation procedure, has been so marginalized that, in my opinion, it has lost its meaning" - said Prof. Pałys.

Addressing students, the Rector assured that he would support all their initiatives that would serve to improve the quality of education.

The inauguration, which began with the solemn procession of representatives of the university authorities from the Kazimierz Palace to the Auditorium Maximum, was attended by the I president of the Supreme Court Małgorzata Gersdorf, President of the Supreme Audit Office Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, Ombudsman Adam Bodnar. Also present were the Archbishop of Warsaw Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz and representatives of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, other offices and local authorities. Veterans of the Home Army - Warsaw insurgents were greeted with particularly warm, long, standing applause.

During the ceremony immatriculation traditionally took place, the reception of new people to the group of students. First and second degree students and postgraduates who had achieved the best results in the recruitment process, took the oath and collected the Transcripts of Records from the Rector.

The first lecture titled " "How the intimate life of plants affects the well-being of people" was delivered by Dr. Marcin Zych from the University Botanical Garden. The researcher is interested in reproductive strategies of plants, especially those of the Apiaceae family, as well as the protection of biodiversity, ethnobotany and gardening. He teaches biology of plant pollination, botany, dendrology, ecology and environmental protection.

The University of Warsaw is over 200 years old. It was founded in 1816 under the name of the Royal University of Warsaw. It is the largest, one of the best and oldest higher education schools in Poland, and the oldest university in the capital. Currently - as the university spokeswoman Anna Korzekwa told PAP on Monday - it educates approximately 44 thousand students. The university employs over 7,000 people, including approximately 3.8 thousand academic teachers. (PAP)

author: Norbert Nowotnik

editor: Agnieszka Tkacz

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland

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