Research Programs

Creative Laboratory

The key topic of Research Program 1 is the origin and place of the concept of creativity, a feature of free society, in the Euro-Atlantic space. University, newly understood in its social openness, serves as a model of this free society in relation to liberal education. This openness does not concern the realm of ideas only but directly develops the three capabilities associated with modern European society, as follows:

  1. to contribute creatively to adaptation to conflicts and crises of the present;
  2. to change itself through self-reflection;
  3. to solve its crises and inner conflicts more efficiently than through mere repetition of previous solutions.

Research of the connection between creativity and free society, in close relation to the problem of adaptation to the challenges of the contemporary interconnected world and to the model of the university (or, rather, the concept of liberal education), is completely unique in the humanities today.

Research of creativity is based on the notion of the so-called ‘self-creating’ (‘autopoietic’) systems. From its original biological meaning, related to self-reproduction of life and maintenance of an open interface with the environment, the notion of autopoietic systems has been developed further by N. Luhmann in his specific theory of systems. This theory includes, apart from society itself, economy, politics, science, literature, religion, media, education, etc. The specificity of our research resides in its focus on the self-reflective aspect of autopoiesis, as it has been traditionally developed in philosophy in the notions of self-awareness and self-care. Recently, autopoiesis has been enjoying a new application for example in the pragmatic theories of language, theories of the autonomous literary field, cognitive sciences, and artificial intelligence. Research in RP1 also focuses on the links between creativity and a pragmatic approach to knowledge, experience, and above all to culture. Here, its uniqueness resides in emphasizing the performative function of language, especially its dynamic nature as an interface between social organization and communication systems. Our research takes as its foundation the general notion of knowledge and experience, which is not based on a passive approach of ‘reflection’ or adaptation of an organism to its environment, i. e. it does not understand knowledge as a result of processing stimuli or given facts, but as an active process. This process will be explored further in the dimensions of continuity and discontinuity and in relation to existing and newly emerging traditions. The applied research within this program focuses on creative industries and their development, suggests solutions to their problems, and supports the development of creativity and fostering cooperation leading to establishment of creative clusters and incubators. This applied research includes also the development of ‘digital humanities’ in the field of manuscripts, linguistic corpora, data mining, and the analysis of data from the internet (especially from social media) that reflect the transformations of the structures of media and social behavior.

Socio-Cultural Adaptation

Research Program 2 explores topics related to the mechanisms and strategies of societal adaptation and integration, the nature of interpersonal communication, and the principles underlying the transmission of cultural identity. The program thus aims at advancing our understanding of the forces that shape human behavior and its meaning, in both verbal and non-verbal modes and in its socio-cognitive and historical contexts. The research in this program focuses especially on three areas:

  1. adaptation at the level of individuals and groups;
  2. communication practices as a source of diversity and variability;
  3. historical changes in the strategies of interaction and adaptation.

The research is based on the notion of active adaptation, understood as an innovative reaction of an individual, group, or society to the challenges and opportunities which are the consequence of the constantly changing world – at the biological, psychological, societal, and technological levels, including potential risks that pose a threat to the safety and stability of the actors. All of this is relevant not only for an adequate theoretical framing of the permanent variability of modern society, but also in its relation to the applied research in this area, which is motivated by the need to cope in practice with the current and future risks and opportunities which the changes bring about (in domains such as education, prevention, regulation, etc.). Given the wide variety of contexts and perspectives that need to be taken into account, the program embraces a multidisciplinary approach that will allow us to capture the complex interplay of specific historical conditions, psychological and psycho-social premises, and individual experience. The project thus takes as its foundation linguistic, psycho-social, historical, and archaeological research of adaptation processes and the role they play in human interaction broadly defined and in the transmission of cultural identity. The convergence of all these research areas (and necessarily also the connection with the concept of autopoietic systems, see RP1 Creative Laboratory) is confirmed also by the current global migration processes that present a challenge not only for political representations but also for the stability of the existing social organization (see program RP3 Strategic Regions). All these contexts open up a space for an inquiry into the prerequisites of creativity and adaptability in contemporary world, with focus especially on the ways in which participants have been connecting specific meanings in their practice and in their action in a world that is (for them) symbolically meaningful. Only when we connect the transformation of codes (signs, words, connections of meanings) with their application in social practice (i. e. how participants understand the meaning of what they experience) can we explain how some collective representations (for example nationalist, democratic, etc.) assert themselves while others do not (such as dynastic representations, etc.).

Strategic Regions

Research Program 3 reflects the current situation of Europe which – both as a continent and as a civilization entity – faces enormous challenges related to the movements of people and ideologies in an interconnected world. The key topic of the program is ‘encounters’ between cultures from the synchronic and diachronic perspective and from two viewpoints: global (Europe vs. non-European world) and local (various regionally or socially localized cultures in Europe). The research program consists of three mutually permeable thematic clusters:

  1. encounters with the other and the formation of identities;
  2. migration;
  3. interaction.

The program works with the notion of culture as a set of values, ideas, and practices shaped by the permanent process of reconfigurations and creative adaptations that occur during the encounters with and exchanges of various locally situated experiences. In this approach, the topic of encounters is complementary to the concept of autopoietic systems developed by RP1 Creative Laboratory. The issue is approached from a historical perspective and one of the lines of research follows the formation and transformation of identities during culturally formative encounters. In this respect, it also broadens the study of adaptation processes and their importance for the transformation of identities, pursued by RP2 Socio-Cultural Adaptation, by including the dimension of global interactions and the topic of the changes in the position of centers and peripheries. The topic is approached from a broad comparative perspective which connects historical, philological (language and literature), philosophical, and sociological methods. On various levels, the project takes into account the role of linguistic diversity (including languages such as Arabic, Chinese, and other Asian languages), both from the perspective of language mediation and construction of reality, and from the point of view of intercultural communication and intercultural translation. Applied research in the program focuses chiefly on recommendations and strategies for state institutions, state administration bodies, NGOs, schools and other institutions that to a different degree need to deal with the questions of global migration and cultural encounters and with the resulting problems, coexistence of cultures, and cultural and social transformations.

The results of the applied research will include activities that fulfill the public role of the university (popularization of research results by means of articles, lectures for the public, educational exhibitions, etc.). Similarly to RP1, one research aim focused on practical application in the area of digital humanities is the development of linguistic corpora and analyses of data from the internet, reflecting cultural changes and changes in the media and social behavior structures, with a specific focus on global contexts and current threats.