Does an existing system of management give proper protection to a natural asset or does it have a detrimental effect on it? Through which tools is a balance between usage and protection reached? And what are the duties and rights of various participants within this system – especially those of individuals, firms and self governed municipalities? We look for answers to these questions – Some theses are focused on them; research projects are focused, for example, on reducing flood damage using urban planning tools (land use planning), on broadening green and blue infrastructure in cities, and on the role of land owners in sustainable usage of a place/area.
Permanent changes raise a need for planning and guiding of regional/spacial/land/area development and for individual areas. Planning enables us to search for and to state methods to meet previously defined targets. As soon as something is solved, although everything can be improved all the time, there is always something else that brings new challenges and opportunities. But there are also threats as part of development, and so it is necessary to plan constantly. The development of a large city is planned, the development of a small rural municipality is planned, the development of a region or state is also planned… planning is an integral part of regional development.
More than a half of the worlds population lives in cities, and it is in fact three quarters in the Czech republic. Cities are specific cases due to their high concentration of people, but also of other activities (business/trade, production, services), in quite a small area, so it is necessary to give to cities special attention. It is urban (city) development and politics which enable us to find the strengths of cities and to use them for further development, and at the same time enable us to realise what their weaknesses are and to find ways to eliminate, prevent or suppress them.
Sustainable development sets limits for how society functions in order to maintain a higher or similar standard of living for generations to come. The principles of sustainable development are reflected in transportation (support for electric or hydrogen cars? how to increase the use of public transportation?), the design of buildings (green roofs and walls? carbon-neutral houses?), waste management (how to prevent waste generation? how to recycle all waste?), energy (do renewable resources have a future? how to use them effectively?) and many other factors which are part of our daily lives.
The success of a region, but also of regional companies, schools and civil organisations, is largely dependent on the ability to implement development projects. Every project is a difficult task. We teach management techniques and methods to plan, prepare and implement projects. Students prepare projects and learn to work with them in a real environment. An essential part of project management is the ability to obtain subsidies from national or European funds for the implementation of a project. Without knowledge of the “Euro-language”, subsidy principles and control mechanisms, it is not possible to seek subsidies. In our teaching we always react to current developments. Students prepare their projects in real subsidy conditions. We make real projects happen and we also include students in our project teams, which gives them important experience and also a financial reward.
What drives modern economic growth? What is the main force behind the success of regions in today’s globalised world? It is innovation which determines how regions are doing and how attractive they are for life and business. The source of innovation is a combination of knowledge, creativity and invention. And a good idea is the primary spark that can light the fire of success. But innovation is not a result of coincidence. It is a managed process which can turn an interesting idea into an innovative solution which greatly contributes to a region’s development. Our students are guided towards creative thinking, based on practical examples. Creativity often leads to crazy ideas, but we learn not to reject these crazy ideas immediately. Through the innovation process we can lead them to an effective solution which can find a real market or public administration application. Of course there is a link between students and innovative companies and authorities, where they have an opportunity to design innovative solutions which have applications in practice. It feels great to know that something works better because you have designed an innovative solution to a problem.
The European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of the European Union, Brussels, Strasbourg, European funds, Cohesion funds – Which is which? Who is responsible for what? Who knows? Through our teaching, we are well versed in various terms/concepts which we collectively call “EU”. In addition, we understand how these institutions, tools and documents influence the development of regions. We explain everything using real examples. And we go even further: finally we will orient ourselves in the maze of European funds and operational programmes. We will understand the relationships between them and find out how the whole system is managed. We will meet employees of the Ministry for Regional Development, who will explain how the Czech Republic contributes to better living in its regions. And it is no coincidence that many of our graduates find jobs in institutions of the implementation structure. This means that they work in those authorities which are responsible for distributing European subsidies and thus contribute to the development of the Czech regions.
A city used to be a symbol of modern life. Today it is a synonymous with stress, visual pollution, parking problems, noise and abandoned and dilapidated buildings. Cities in the Czech republic occupy just 27% of state territory but about 70% of the population live in them. This is a sufficient reason to focus on them; to find a way to return them to their former glory, to make life in them more comfortable, more attractive. We look for examples of good solutions within our Republic and around the world to be inspired for solutions for our own urban problems. We try to look at cities with ‘new eyes’. How might the city be seen by an architect, an entrepreneur, a driver, a cyclist or a pedestrian, seniors, teenagers, young mothers and others? And how can we project these views onto the public space in the city?
At the beginning of the study programme we have to look around us. To start with what is close or familiar to us is the best way. We try to start thinking about our region not as laymen but as regionalists. We learn how to use subjective perception. We operate with objective data instead of feelings. Which factors are relevant? What should a regionalist know? How can we evaluate the level of regional development? We put the Usti region in a wider context – What are the assets of our region? What challenges do we face? Where are the problems and how can we solve them? Who are important ‘players’ in the region?
Our students acquire new IT skills. Working with GIS means working with maps in a special software/program. GIS is not just a collection of maps, although it may seem so at first sight. The essence of working with GIS is based on three basic facts: there is some information behind every element of a map layer, we can add some new information to every element of a map layer, and information on the elements of a map layer can be cartographically presented. We can present data using tables or figures, but it’s nothing in comparison with a map.
Administrative territorial units are not businesses, although we can use tools which are inspired by private sector management and marketing practices. Municipalities work with their target consumer groups (citizens, entrepreneurs, visitors, etc.) to try to fulfil their wishes and needs to contribute to their satisfaction. They build a good image, improve communication and relationships with their customers. Managers in public bodies use various management methods and focus on quality. We treat our students as future managers and leaders, so they gain knowledge about specific managerial work and about the essence of marketing tools in specific public administration conditions.