Abstract: This contribution points out the high specialization of current scientific disciplines, as a natural result of long-lasting growth of knowledge with an acceleration during the 19th and especially 20th century. Global cooperation in science has brought knowledge of individual disciplines to such a high level that at the present time research between disciplines can bring more important results than research aimed into the depth of individual disciplines. So specialists burdened by vertical view have to adjust themselves to that aim, and in particular it is needed to adjust the system of education to this tendency. As an example of the modern approach we can take the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague. Noteworthy are the activities of the Department of Social Sciences of this faculty. Its projects are aimed to the education of technical specialists into a versatile universal personality with a wide outlook.
Development of the science disciplines since time of their formation is characterised by constantly growing differentiation and graduating specialization of the scientific branches. This is a natural trend coming out from the growth of findings and deepening the human knowledge.
The bearers of this development and its product are at the same time the experts, who are more and more concentrated to the permanently narrower segment of scientific spectre, resulting from the growing specialization of scientific branches. This specialization, thanks to the growth of human knowledge, brings universally positive effects.
Indeed the narrowing specialization of specialists is in final result positive but as well as negative at the same time. Strictly determined specialization is giving to a scientific expert a possibility of deep immerse to the concerned questions and high concentration to the aim. Nevertheless such a specialist is delimitated to a relative narrow space bordered by subject of his high specialization and his view to the branches of more or less relative scopes is restricted. In this sense the high specialization can have limiting influence (negative effects) to the knowledge development, because with long-term orientation of the scientific observation in vertical way, the established subjects are closing to their merits only.
When concentrating the view of science world to these key points, the field lying between the branches widens rapidly and remains away in the shadow of the researchers focus. Modern sciences in course of their existence reached relatively high level of cognition and in scope of their definition have smaller and smaller space for significant discoveries. Therefore the space between the branches is getting more important, because here can be hidden even great discoveries not too deep under the surface of usual seeing. However they escape from the view of science, because it is not used to turn off from the roads and tracks, marked out by its methodology. The turns would restrain the science from its way to the objective. It could happen to meet such milestones, what would steer it into completely new roads and potential highways to new magnetically attracting targets.
The modern sciences start clearly coming to realize the limitation of such narrow-rail orientation and they find new spaces between the classical branches. Paradoxical, it is the human factor, what is putting back this new wide-winkle science observing. The experts, bound by many stereotypes, are not ready to adopt new approach, assertion of which will require an extensive institutional support. Fundamental importance – in this point of view – has the structure of experts’ education, what is formed already during the university studying period. As an example of a modern conception of university education we can name the Faculty of Civil Engineering of Czech Technical University in Prague where in the centre of attention are not only the basic classical branches like building construction, hydraulic engineering, architecture, geodetics, construction and building execution, but the faculty is supporting new branches as well – for example structural mechanics, construction chemistry or long-distance earth-survey. It pays attention as well to the research of various causalities, namely between the engineering and territorial environment, between construction and men’s health. The learners primarily have to manage the basic branches, but they are getting acknowledged also with a wide scope of marginal branches, in order to get the education as much as complex, open and modern.
An extraordinary position in this process has in the Faculty of Civil Engineering the Department of Social Studies, what extends the scope of technical education far over the standards to the sphere of humanitarian sciences. It aims to the education of experts and starting scientists as rich and widely educated personalities, who are opened to new ideas, impulses and intersections. The Department of Social Sciences enriches the education structure of the Faculty with subjects from the law, economy, history, philosophy, psychology and culture. This offer is not static anyhow. The Department solves new projects every year, what brings interesting study possibilities to the learners.
From the projects of last periods we can present for example „Development program for graduates“, what was supported by European structural funds. Its concern was the building of a development centre for graduates, who are passing through a complete system of education and personality development. Another project profiting from the ESF support was the „Education and training program for presentation and communication“. It helped to the development of presentation and communication skills of the learners by a special offer of several optional subjects from the field of verbal and visual communication. Most of the subjects from the mentioned project, as for example “The practice of digital photography, Basics of audio-visual shots, Graphic layout of presentation and advertisement materials, Profession communication, Self-management and others earned among students such popularity, that they became a permanent part of class-work at the Faculty. In the primary target group were the students, but marginally have even the academic personalities got this possibility of education.
The department is further active in long-term research of possibilities and effects of e-learning, as a form of effective alternative additional possibility of university education and further education of specialists and scientific workers. For the time being it prepares a project of “Aesthetic education for students of technical specialization”, what is in extraordinary way influencing the technical study and mediating the ways of learning the artistic subjects to the technicians. For the Department of Social Studies are as the primary target group the learners from the mother faculty, however it turns its activities towards the high-schools, from where the prospective learners of the faculty are recruited. As well the project for education of high-school teachers is under preparation, with aim to improve the quality of high-school students before coming to universities. Another project is oriented directly to these students with a target to draw their interest in various science branches.
Temporarily the department is realizing with support of European structural funds in the “Operation program Prague – Adaptability” a project “Scientific methods for graduates”, aiming to preparing the graduates of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and other faculties of Czech Technical University for relevant using of scientific methods when working out their academic dissertation, in their pedagogic activities and consequently in their professional careers. The project should increase theoretical and practical competence of the graduates, because – according to results of the “Development Project for Graduates 2006-07” as a predecessor of the recent project – the level of their knowledge in questions of scientific methods was not satisfactory.
The scientific methods are not a part either of the educations of graduates or the forthcoming educations and therefore the graduates are missing this kind of knowledge. In the preparation phase of the project there was a specialised web created (www.doctorandus.info), where the project materials and information will be concentrated. This web will get a meeting-point of the target group and implementation team. Further there will be elaborated the working note-books, as the basic education materials for the second testing phase, in which the education of scientific methods will be gradually piloted with approximated participation of 30 – 40 graduates. The final output of the project will be a completed text-book of scientific methods, worked out on the basis of approved education and opposition procedures. A special accent in this project will be laid on balanced participation of scientific methods typical for technical branches and for humanitarian ones as well. As far as the input premises are confirmed and the results and evaluations are positive, the education of scientific method will be suggested for implementing to the study program of graduates at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and further faculties of the CTU and as well in scope of cooperation will be offered to other universities.
Further project of the Department of the Social sciences of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, what has just become support of the European Structural Funds in operation program “Education for competitiveness” is the project “New media in science and research.” Its realization started on September 1st 2009. It will be supported for next three years. Sense of the project is introducing of visual-communication technologies - at the level corresponding to their importance in professional communication - to science and research. Visual communication represents the most significant supplement of the verbal communication and its importance is growing constantly. This program therefore comes to the scientists with specialized forms of education. The basic media of the visual communication are in the meantime fully digitalized and became hence a part of ICT (information and communication technologies).
Emphasis on the development of computer literacy is required by altogether all strategic educational documents; however the visual-communication media stay in practice at the margin of interest in this segment. Photography, video and computer graphics have in communication including the professional one, totally unsubstitutable position in any cases, where the speech is not satisfactory by its means. These media became by digitalization completely new possibilities and advantages, opening again new spheres of exploitation to them. Usual and natural is their application in documentation, what is an indivisible part of scientific research and observation. New media are bringing new procedures and possibilities to this field, what for the science and research workers are not completely prepared. Simplicity of these media is illusory only and the expert scientific workers are facing enormous problems when using it. Often they are not able to manage such system at desirable level without appropriate training.
Level of innovation of this program lies especially in the fact that it pays to the new media in scientific and research exploitation such attention, like in professional scientific education never before. According to our information, the Universities in the Czech Republic did not identify or solve these questions and important deficit in professional profile of their graduates and as well their scientific and research workers, or they did not solve it in a complex way. The added value of the program lies also in accumulation of effects. The scientific workers, by adopting the new media technologies, are gaining the documentation and presentation competences, what is recently a weak point of their professional profile. At the same time these workers are strengthening their ICT literacy, because the new media are a part of ICT and professional communication as well. The program also breaks the usual border of scientists’ education by its accent on aesthetic and artistic values of the new media. There is also a presumption, that the gnoseology of artistic disciplines can reveal new ways of knowledge to the worlds of science. All the competences, what the target group is able to gain, are transferable and they contribute to its adaptability.
A particular target of the project is formation of a well-developed concept of education of science and research workers and graduates in visual-communication skills. The program will bring lectures in branches of digital photography, creation of a digital audio-visual shot, computer graphics and in the field of web-pages creation and web applications in general. Formation of this program will be anticipated by a careful analysis of needs and starting position of the target group education in this field. The analysis will extend in full detail the fore-coming research, what we have realized within the framework of the project preparation.
The elaborated program will be consequently proven as a pilot in the premises of the Faculty of Bio-Medicine Engineering in Kladno, what is a faculty of our University with overreach to the field of natural sciences and further at the University of Jan Evangelista Purkyne in Usti nad Labem, what will enrich the application sphere to the field of other university specializations. On ground of experiences from this pilot proving the program will be further modified. There will be composed education supports in a form of printed text-books and electronic lectures, what will remain on their web pages even after completion of the project. In the top phase of the project the program will be applied in its final version with support of all educational material at the Faculty of Bio-Medicine of CTU and at the University of Jan Evangelista Purkyne as well. During the project period will pass this education approx. 110 participants. For the main output we consider a systematically elaborated education concept, what can be – when successful – adopted by the schools to their usual education programs. The methodology will be available at the project’s web-page.
A brief outline of the project activities of the Department of Social Sciences of the Faculty of Civil Engineering of CTU indicates that this is one of the most active departments of the faculty and its projects are earning highly over-average evaluations in selection and also in realization. It is significant, that this department is a heterogenic element in the atmosphere of a technical university, what is bringing to the compact system of technical study the inhomogeneous elements, views and impulses. Constant support for such projects, what the department obtains from external and internal sources, proves the necessity of diversification of education for specialists and scientific workers. Openness, wide outlook and universality are the characters of professionals what are becoming a condition for further development of science.
Project JPD3 - Education and training program of presentation and communication – CZ.04.3.07/3.1.01.1/0099
Project JPD3 - Development program for graduants - CZ.04.3.07/3.1.01
Project OPVK - New media in science and research - CZ.1.07/2.3.00/09.0097
Project OPVK - Education of high-school teachers in preparation and project leadership – CZ.1.07/1.3.00/08.0221
Project OPPA - Scientific methods for graduants - CZ.2.17/3.1.00/31268
Report on activity of the Faculty of Civil Engineering of CTU for 2008
Report on activity of the Faculty of Civil Engineering of CTU for 2007
Long-term target of the education, scientific, research, development, artistic and other activities of the Faculty of Civil Engineering of CTU for period 2006 – 2010