Inaugural address of the new dean of the Postgraduate school ZRC SAZU

Sodelavke in sodelavci Podiplomske šole ZRC SAZU

Dear students, higher education teachers, and professional staff of the Postgraduate School ZRC SAZU!


On 27 May 2024, the Management Board, upon the proposal of the Senate and with the consent of the Assembly, appointed me as the Dean of the Postgraduate School ZRC SAZU (PS ZRC SAZU) for the term from 27 May 2024 to 26 May 2028. In this short greeting letter, I would like to briefly introduce myself and share a few initial thoughts as we embark on our shared journey.


Valentin Vodnik


Hey, Slovene, hale and hearty’s your land,
And hard workers will find its lay grand.
The field, the green vine,
Mountains, the sea,
Trade, ore from the mine,
All nurture thee.


Your head’s honed for every instruction,
you’re of fair and strapping construction.
Lady Luck’s calling,
You’ve got your mind,
If you stay awake,
Her you shall find.


Behold, all’s endowed by creation,
Accept it with no hesitation!
The lazy await
Stitches times nine,
A beggar’s attire,
Cups with no wine.


Translated from Slovene to English by Josh Rocchio


Valentin Vodnik published the poem “Reveille” in 1795 in the Great Almanac. As one of the most prominent representatives of the Enlightenment, a national awakener, and a great advocate of the Slovenian language in education and public life, he emphasized the geographical, social, and cultural advantages of Slovenia in the poem. Through his lyrical text, he recognized the exceptional talent and intellectual potential of Slovenians, urging them to diligence and ingenuity in everyday life. The main message of the poem is that Slovenians, like all people, have the potential for success, and our comparative advantages are primarily reflected in our geostrategic location and our physical and mental capacities for work.


The message of this poem, which addressed the challenges of its time more than two centuries ago, remains relevant today. The modern development of Slovenia is largely linked to the demographic challenges of an aging population [1], [2], which, especially during the recent financial and economic crisis, has been accompanied by increased emigration of young educated workers [3]. The increased export of creative individuals and the simultaneous focus on importing less skilled workers [4]  have resulted in Slovenia losing its competitive position among the group of countries that joined the European Union twenty years ago [5]. Therefore, the fundamental devel opment challenges of Slovenia are directly connected to the creation, attraction, and retention of educated labour capable of addressing the economic, social, and environmental challenges of the modern era.


Based on the recognized developmental challenges of Slovenia and the structural challenges of PS ZRC SAZU, I take on the position of Dean of PS ZRC SAZU, where I have been habilitated as an Assistant Professor in Geography since 2016. For the past two years, I have served as the coordinator of the Human Geography module in the Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures programme, and last year I also served as a member of the Senate Working Group on structural issues at PS ZRC SAZU. As a researcher, I have been employed at ZRC SAZU, Anton Melik Geographical Institute, for fifteen years, and prior to that, I spent one year as a student at ZRC SAZU, Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies.


I intend to base the leadership of PS ZRC SAZU on open and inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders. Recognizing and activating all internal potentials of PS ZRC SAZU will be of key importance, as I perceive it as an integral part of ZRC SAZU with a special status in legal and financial transactions. Based on enhanced internal communication, I aim to lead the construction of a common identity for PS ZRC SAZU, which will be satisfying for all of us and an attractive and referential point for postgraduate studies in both Slovenian and international contexts. I also consider the strengthening of research and innovation content with partner institutions to be important, particularly when it supports the higher quality implementation of educational content.


In all of this, I wish to symbolically draw from the Enlightenment ideas of Valentin Vodnik, who, during his lifetime, “awakened” the Slovenian nation by shaping a developmental vision based on our spatial and cultural capital. His words were relevant more than two hundred years ago, are relevant today, and will be relevant in the centuries to come – provided we know how to appropriately strengthen the developmental potential of our homeland.


Let our communal contribution to this be through the building and strengthening of PS ZRC SAZU as an institution for all of us and for all who wish to collaborate with us for the benefit of humanity!


Ljubljana, 27 May 2024



Asst. Prof. Dr. Jani Kozina, Dean