Now one of the executives who helped nurture the company’s intellectual climate has turned from publishing to another intellectual arena.
Jaroslaw Gowin is president of the new Tischner European University in Krakow. The university is part of the Znak empire. Znak has printed the works of such authors as Joseph Ratzinger, Czeslaw Milosz, Father Jozef Tischner, Pope John Paul II, Thomas Merton, William Shakespeare and others.
It was a staunch opponent of the Communist regime, maintaining close ties to Jagiellonian University, the Roman Catholic Church and the Solidarity” movement.
It continued its tradition of using the works it published to foster a more open society after the fall of communism. One of its authors was Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Poland’s first non-Communist prime minister.
When it became clear after communism ended that Poland’s educational system needed reform, Znak decided to found Tischner European University in 2003. Many renowned Polish professors, intellectuals, lawyers, philosophers and politicians decided to add their credibility to the university, joining its board of patrons. The university offered majors in linguistics and international relations to start with.
In 2006, it added a languages major and, in 2007, an international relations program in English. Its emphasis on other languages gives its students a good chance of landing internships and jobs with Western European companies and institutions.
The university is named after the distinguished philosopher, professor and priest Jozef Tischner, who died in 2000.
Born in Stary Sacz, in the Malopolska region, he became the first chaplain of the Solidarity movement.
Because he grew up in the Podhale region, in Jopuszna, much of Father Tischner’s academic work dealt with the highland Goral dialect.
His most famous work, “A Goral History of Philosophy,” is written entirely in the dialect. He produced an audio version of the work that he narrated himself. Gowin noted that Tischner “played a special role in reconciling the Catholic Church with modernity” after the fall of communism.
The founders of the university chose Father Tischner as its namesake because they wanted to foster in students “his spirit of determination and strong will for a fair and impartial quest for truth.”
One of the university’s aims is to produce graduates who can succeed in the EU market that Poland has become part of.
Another is to encourage graduates to get involved in civic affairs.
Like many Western universities, Tischner tries to develop critical thinking skills in its students. Its professors have specialities ranging from languages to entrepreneurship to diplomacy.
The university hopes its English-language international relations program will attract students at a time when Poland’s institutions of higher learning are competing for a declining
At present, Poles make up the highest proportion of students studying international relations in English.
The international students in the program include some Americans. The International Relations Department would like to attract more Western European and Asian students.
It hopes in coming years to gain the reputation of a multicultural university.
Norbert Czarnecki, a first-year student of international relations from Austin, Texas, said he likes the fact that “all the seminar groups are small and, when it comes to lecturers, they always try to keep in touch with you.”
Norbert suggests that the biggest advantage of this degree is that it is “one of the few programs like this in Poland.”
Marcelina Gielata, an international relations student from Nowy Targ, said she thinks a degree from Tischner will give her good job prospects. She said the university often organizes conferences on topics such as how to be a successful manager that “help us find our way.”