Doctor Honoris Causa to Prof. Khan and Prof. Helus
On March 2, 2017, the Scientific Board of Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (CPU) and Scientific Boards of Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Pedagogy met to confer two honorary degrees. The University Rector, Prof. Lubomir Zelenicky, presented the degrees to Prof. Abrahim Habibulla Khan of the University of Toronto, and to Prof. Zdenek Halus from Charles University, Prague, in memoriam. Prof. Khan was recognized for his pedagogical activity in the field of world religions studies, and for a significant contribution to cooperation between universities on research of S. Kierkegaard’s philosophy. Prof. Helus was honored for his achievements in developing pedagogical sciences.
Abrahim H. Khan was nominated for the honorary degree by the Faculty of Arts, and approved by the Scientific Board on April 16, 2016. Prof. Khan first visited CPU in 2007 to participate in a Kierkegaard conference. This led to a fruitful cooperation, resulting in establishing the Central European Research Institute of S. Kierkegaard (CERI SK) at the Department of General and Applied Ethics, Faculty of Arts CPU in Nitra. An internationally recognized Acta Kierkegaardiana series and annual international symposia and conferences are further results of the ongoing relationship with Prof. Khan.
In recognizing the benefits to CPU faculty and program, Prof. Bernard Garaj, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, noted, “CERI SK has matured and become a dialogical partner in Kirkegaard Studies, through publications and outreach, and by facilitating a synergy of talents and abilities of individuals in collaboration. The result goes beyond what any scholar would dream of doing alone in an academic context. Collaborative projects across disciplines and cultures increase opportunities for creativity. I am suggesting here that creative imagination is a key element in the process of education—enabling us to become the accomplished scholars, innovative scientists, outstanding artists, inspiring teachers, risk-taking entrepreneurs, and promising socio-political leaders needed to address the challenges of the complex modern society. We need to frame questions that matter, that put to rest fear of difference, that neutralize polarization of communities and societies, and instead that encourage natural diversity and complementarity, in creating a thriving environment”.
On November 19, 2015 the Scientific Board of CPU approved the nomination of Prof. Zdenek Helus, the distinguished scholar of Czech pedagogical psychology and a representative leader of education policy. In awarding this honorary degree, the Faculty of Sciences described Prof. Helus’ contributions: “Professor Zdenek Helus’ has developed a unique synthesis of scientific and pedagogical activity in the field of pedagogical psychology, and his work has significantly marked and also directed the development of various aspects of psychological and pedagogical science. He belongs among the primary advocates of child-personality-oriented-approach concept”, stated Prof. Eva Szoradova, Dean of Faculty of Pedagogy. “Until his death on October 26, 2016, Professor Helus, a recognized scholar of Charles University, had an influence on teacher-training programs and other pedagogical positions in a broader context. For many years he was in contact with our faculty. As a founder and spokesperson of the Association of Deans of pedagogical faculties in the Czech and Slovak Republics, he contributed to the creation of teacher-training materials. Throughout his whole life, he struggled to bring respect and recognition to the profession of teaching, giving it a social status that it deserves in a civilized society.”
Dr. Ivana Vajnerova, daughter of Prof. Helus, accepted the honorary degree in memoriam. In responding to this honor, she said, “From the beginning, it was a mission for him. If not the very first, he was among the first pedagogues and psychologists who, through foreign contacts, had the courage to introduce a notion of black pedagogy (forceful and authoritative education), which really was black back then. He had been fighting against it. In his last lectures, he stressed that education, especially pre-elementary education must be loving in order to achieve a desired effect.”