About us

Dr. John G. Lexa, New York 1980NEW YORK Chapter of SVU was established on March 26, 1960 as the third local chapter of the Society, right after Washington D.C. and Chicago chapters. The first president of SVU New York was Dr. John Lexa, and the first secretary was Milan Vojtek.
We promote Czech and Slovak intellectual history through lectures, readings, screenings, and publications.

WHAT IS SVU

The acronym SVU in Czech and Slovak languages stands for Spolecnost pro vedy a umeni, a Society of Arts and Sciences. Since its inception in 1958 by Czech and Slovak emigre academics, the SVU has grown into a respected international member organization with chapters around the world. After the peaceful 1989 Velvet Revolution, it has expanded its activities to Czechoslovakia and its succession states, the Czech and the Slovak Republics.

The SVU is a nonprofit NGO, a cultural organization dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, free dissemination of ideas and the fostering of contacts among scholars, scientists, artists, writers, students and other professionals throughout the world who have an interest in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, their history, peoples and their cultural and intellectual contributions.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The SVU was officially organized in 1958, at the initiative of Czech and / Slovak intellectuals living abroad, at a time when the communist regime in Czechoslovakia had repudiated the country’s historical traditions and suppressed free expression. The SVU wanted to provide a forum for the free development of Czechoslovak culture in exile and make the world aware of the Czech and Slovak cultural traditions and contributions, which date back more than a millennium.

Its activities, as outlined in the original bylaws, consisted of supporting and coordinating the educational, scholarly, literary and artistic endeavors of the Czechoslovak intelligentsia abroad. However, the Society was subsequently broadened into an organization open to all individuals, regardless of ethnic origin, interested in fostering Czech Slovak and/or Slovak culture.

Following the end of the communist regime in 1989, the SVU’s functions greatly expanded. Now, in addition to its original mission, the SVU has become a bridge between Czech and Slovak professionals and those in other countries. It allows scholars abroad to benefit from contact with their Czech and Slovak colleagues, as well as helping to reintegrate the intellectual life of these two nations into the main stream of world science, arts and letters, from which they were separated for so long by political barriers.

PRESENT

Since the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1989, the Society has been instrumental in assisting the fledgling democracies in reestablishing the normal functions of a free society, through material assistance, lectures, seminars, and workshops, and most of all, through the personal expertise and experience of its members.

The SVU is interested in encouraging young people, whether they are Czech and Slovak students who want to enhance their educational opportunities abroad, or North American students or those of other nationalities who wish to make Czech and / or Slovak culture the focus of their professional careers.

SVU MISSION STATEMENT

1. To enhance and promote Czech and Slovak culture worldwide
a. by organizing meetings, public lectures, conferences, seminars, workshops etc.
b. by sponsoring concerts, exhibits and other cultural events
c. by publicizing Czech and Slovak related cultural events
d. by publishing scholarly, educational and literary works and works of art and the issuance of periodicals or other publications
e. by compiling bibliographies of selected publications and other information briefs
f. by establishing a documentary center
g. by maintaining liaison with cultural institutions in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and their counterparts abroad
h. by cooperating with similar organizations on joint activities

2. To coordinate and assist with the work of SVU members
a by periodically reporting on their activities in its newsletter
b. by enabling members to present results of their work and research at its world congresses, annual conferences etc.
c. by preparing biographical directories of members with the listing of their accomplishments.
d. by establishing a clearinghouse regarding members’ interests and their expertise
e. by providing its members advice and contact though its extensive worldwide network.

3. To foster cooperation between scientists, artists, and other professionals, as well as with cultural institutions in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and those abroad
a. by maintaining liaison with major cultural institutions in the Czech and Slovak Republics and their counterparts abroad
b. by keeping track of study and research opportunities worldwide
c. by providing advice on the art of “grantsmanship”
d. by preparing specific study and research guides
e. by assisting with joint projects

4. To assist with the preservation of Czech and Slovak cultural heritage abroad
a. by mapping historical sites relating to Czechs and Slovaks abroad
b. by surveying archival material relating to Czechs and Slovaks abroad
c. by fostering studies and research on Czechs and Slovaks abroad
d. by arranging conferences, seminars and workshops with the focus on Czechs and Slovaks abroad
e. by sponsoring relevant publications
f. by maintaining liaison with other organizations with similar aims