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Department of Economic and Social History

About the Department

About the Department

Department of Economic and Social History / UNESCO CHAIR FOR HERITAGE AND URBAN STUDIES 

The Department of Economic History was established as a separate scientific and didactic unit at the Higher School of Economics (the former name of today’s University of Economics) in Cracow in 1958. Its organizer and first head was Professor Stanislaw Hoszowski (1904-1987), a student and collaborator of Franciszek Bujak (1875-1953), the founder of the so-called Lviv school of economic history in the interwar period.
Subsequent heads of the Department were Professors Janina Bieniarzówna (1975-1984), Jan M. Małecki (1984-1997), Jan Szpak (1998-2008). In 2007, the name of the Department was changed to the Department of Economic and Social History. Since 2008, the Department has been headed by Professor Jacek Purchla. He has been maintaining its tradition and continued the main research trends initiated by the founders of the Chair, expanding them to include cultural economics and cultural heritage management, and establishing international cooperation within the UNITWIN/UNESCO network.
For more than a quarter of a century (1993-2019), the structure of the Department has been two departments: the Department of Economic History and the Department of Urban Development, created by Professor Purchla, which in 2008 changed its name to the Department of Cultural Heritage and Urban Studies and, in connection with the signed agreement between UEK and UNESCO, was given the status of UNESCO Chair for Heritage and Urban Studies.

UNESCO Chair for Heritage and Urban Studies
The UNESCO International Chairs Networking Program (University Twinning and Networking – UNITWIN/UNESCO CHAIRS) is part of a cooperative program implemented by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is an international network of universities that supports UNESCO’s work in the fields of education, natural and social sciences, culture and communications. Its goal is to help face contemporary challenges and contribute to social development.
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Department staff
Under the leadership of Professor Jacek Purchla, the Department’s staff: university professors Rafał Matyja and Andrzej Laskowski, and assistant professors Dominika Hołuj, Piotr Miodunka, Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga and Michał Wiśniewski conduct key research in the field of issues included in the triad: history – city – heritage. In practice, these are: interdisciplinarity, research on the civilizational development of Galicia, research on the history of architecture and art, cultural heritage, synthesis and comparative studies: the city as a work of art, the city as a process, idea, function and form, demography, the role of culture in urban development, management of city resources.
In addition to individual interests and research projects, the Department’s staff carry out joint research projects. The result of the latest one these is a monograph entitled Urban Change in Central Europe. The Case of Kraków published in 2022 by Routledge publishing house in London. At the moment there is another joint project conducted within the framework of the university’s Potential Program entitled “The Historical City in the Face of Crises, Problems and Challenges” (2022-2024).

Urban Studies
As a result of the ongoing changes in the scientific profile of the Department, as well as its cooperation with other departments of the Faculty of Public Economy and Administration established in 2015 (since 2019 the College of Public Economy and Administration), a new major of Urban Studies was launched in the 2018/2019 academic year. The Department of Economic and Social History/UNESCO Chair for Heritage and Urban Studies has been its supervisor within the Institute of Spatial Economy and Urban Studies since 2019.