Symposion in Memory of George Placzek (1905-1955)
George Placzek
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Brno - City of Universities
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Czech Republic, Brno
September 21 - 24, 2005

Brno - City of Universities

    The second-largest city (pop. 400,000) in the Czech Republic, Brno is home to six major higher education institutions, whose 45,000 students contribute greatly to the vibrancy of the city and help make it one of the country’s most attractive places to study. The intellectual potential represented by these institutions, their teachers and students is also one of the main reasons why increasing numbers of foreign firms are looking to Brno – areality recognized by the city in its official “Brno – City of Universities“ program.
    Though the human presence in the region goes back tens of thousands of years, it is only with the foundation of the royal city in 1243 that the recorded history of Brno begins. The city derived its importance from being at acultural and commercial crossroads that connected it with anumber of other important European cities. The original Czech population was joined by outsiders – Germans, Flemings, Walloons, Italians and Jews – thus beginning atradition of ethnic, racial and religious tolerance that survives to this day.
    Over the centuries Brno flourished, becoming first the capital of Moravia and subsequently, during the industrial revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, one of the key industrial and commercial centres in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the dawn of the twentieth century, the city expanded rapidly, witnessing the flourishing of anew sense of Czech nationhood and culture. Following the founding of an independent Czechoslovakia in October 1918, Brno became a focus for exciting new developments in the arts, sciences and commerce.

    It was in the immediate postwar years that three new higher educational institutions were established in order to cover areas of study not offered by the older Czech Technical University in Brno – Masaryk University, the University of Agriculture and the Veterinary University. They soon established themselves as dynamic institutions driven by asense of academic excellence and social commitment. After sharing the fate of other Czech institutions of higher learning during World War II – all were closed down by the Nazis – they reopened in 1945 with a renewed sense of mission and determination. Within less than three years, however, the long period of Communist rule had commenced; nevertheless, continuous efforts were made to maintain standards and keep abreast of international scientific and educational advances. These have been amply rewarded in the period since the collapse of the Communist system in 1989, which has witnessed rapid expansion of student numbers and the construction of numerous new facilities, greatly increased international cooperation in research, and student and teacher mobility on an unprecedented scale.
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