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How the „black swan events“ affect the Charles University life in the course of time

COVID-19

We have now a very fresh experience how the Covid-19 pandemic changed our lives. It has forced the academic community to leave its lecture halls empty, the students switched the lectures for the volunteer jobs in the front line. The face mask became an ordinary part of our daily „outfits“ and the social distancing a new courtesy.  While such “black swan” events are rare, for Charles University it isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

Medical students used to help for exemple during the plague epidemics and in wartime. There are reports of the impact of the “Black Death” on the university in the 17th and 18th centuries, when epidemics of the plague hit the Czech capital.

Much more often than epidemics of the plague, the university’s activities were limited by wartime unrest, revolutions and strikes. The absolute longest interruption, for all of the 1520s, was when Charles University was shut down during the Hussite Wars.

The university was also closed in 1741, when it found itself at the center of public events at the beginning phases of the war over the inheritance of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. An academic legion was established at the university at the time to defend the rights of Empress Maria Theresa; the legion even joined battle on the Prague ramparts.

In the 20th century, the university had to limit or completely interrupt its activities several times – during World War I, during the student strikes in 1968 and 1989, and especially after 1939, when Charles University in Prague was closed for six years (the German university in Prague in 1939 joined the portfolio of Reich universities and was closed down after the defeat of the Nazi regime).

Read more at: https://iforum.cuni.cz/IFORUMENG-851.html

According to the Wikipedia the black swan theory (or theory of black swan events) is a theory developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and means a metaphor discribing an rare, hard-to-predict event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalised after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient saying that presumed black swans did not exist – a saying that became reinterpreted to teach a different lesson after black swans were discovered in the wild.