So fortunate to be living in Brno, Czech Republic (CR) throughout fall 2018 on a Fulbright distinguished chair appointment to the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University. Brno is CR’s second largest city located in the wine-country region of Moravia in southeastern Czechia (CR’s official short name) — about a hour train ride from Vienna. It’s old, lovely, and certainly more mellow than Prague. With five universities, on most evenings the city squares look like a college campus.
Teaching & Research
I am teaching a master’s class in visual criticism one day a week to international students from Belgium, Spain, Slovakia, and Germany. My research project investigates how multinational and national corporations, along with NGOs, engage in social responsibility (SR) and sustainability initiatives here in CR. I’m joined in Brno by my husband and Mediawerks PR partner, Bill Page, who will be collaborating on the SR research. Naturally, we’ll be enjoying the foods, culture and people of this beautiful and friendly city, while also learning about the country’s tragic and valiant 20th century history and observing evidence of it still today.
The City Cares
One of the first things I discovered about SR here is that local government does it, too. A couple years ago, Brno Town Hall (city gov’t) donated one of the large apartment buildings it owns so that local homeless families could move into the units and be guided with a vast amount of social support. It’s call the Rapid Re-Housing Brno Project. Many of the families are Roma, the largest minority in the country. In later posts, we’ll share a little about the Roma as the city has a Museum of Romani Culture.
Living in an Art Gallery
Having a place to call home in a foreign country is so important to settling in and feeling good. I’m lucky to be living in a literal art gallery. The apartment is in a 1930’s building and was kept by the owner’s father, a medical doctor with many patients that were fine artists. His passion was collecting paintings (sometimes in lieu of cash payments for his medical services). My walls are filled with their work dated from the 1940’s - 1970’s. Take a look: