We Are Deeply Saddened by the Death of Professor Jan Sokol

17 February, 2021

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing away of Professor Jan Sokol, a philosopher, pedagogue, translator of philosophy texts, and one of the founders of the Undergraduate Program in Central European Studies (UPCES). A former minister of education and presidential candidate died at the age of 84.

In 2002, CERGE-EI partnered with the Faculty of Humanities (FHS) at Charles University to create an undergraduate humanities study abroad program for American students choosing to study in Prague for a semester (UPCES). Jan Sokol was the Dean of FHS at that time and was instrumental in helping to create courses, trips, and to find relevant, qualified, and exceptional professors. He was, until recently, on the UPCES Academic Advisory Committee.

"Professor Sokol continued over the years to give me counsel, insights, and to help me in any way he could. He established and created "the Prague as a Living History course" himself with professors at FHS. This is still the most popular course UPCES offers," says UPCES and IEF Director Nicki Norris. 

"He continued to attend our Orientation sessions until his health didn’t permit it. He loved the students and took pride in their learning about the history and government of this country. I could always depend on his wise insights and problem-solving skills and I will miss him deeply. UPCES has lost one of its founding members, and one of its strongest supporters of student learning," she added.

Professor Sokol studied mathematics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University and belonged to the first wave of signatories of Charter 77. In 2003, he ran for president of the Czech Republic against Václav Klaus. In the year 2000, he was appointed the first dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University (2000–2007). He received many awards, including the Order of the Legion of Honor in 2008.

Please join us in expressing our condolences to his family.