This summer turned out to be very different for all of us. Due to the world pandemic crisis, we risked not being able to run Prague Summer Schools (PSS) at all—a project that has been ongoing for 16 years! For 16 consecutive summers, PSS has gathered university students and young professionals from all over the world to deepen their knowledge in a unique learning environment in the heart of Europe: the beautiful city of Prague. 

For 16 years, PSS was a success. We hosted 2,500 students of approximately 50 different nationalities. PSS offered up-to-date courses in the fields of law, criminology, psychology, education, behavioural economics, international politics and developmental studies. But the project was more than that. Beyond the classroom, the experience brought about new acquaintances that turned into long lasting friendships, a sea of positive emotions, cultural exchanges, and unexpected discoveries via various excursions and social activities. Every single summer, the city of 100 spires and the PSS Team hosted multinational students with the hopes of fulfilling each participant’s highest expectations and providing them with the best experience possible. We would dare say that PSS was not just a simple project, but a life-changing learning experience of never-ending fun, friendships, and cultural exchanges. 

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we weren’t able to welcome our students in Prague this summer, but we didn’t let that stop us. We accepted the challenge and dove deep into digital solutions. The pandemic made us rethink our teaching methods and our ability to provide the best learning experiences to the students who decided to attend PSS online. In the end, two out of six of our Summer Schools were virtually conducted by international lecturers and experts from the UK, the USA, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa and Czechia. 

The Online Summer School on Crime, Law and Psychology (CLP) provided students with advanced knowledge on the application of psychological approaches and research methods in the processes and practices of the criminal justice system. The CLP Online Course focused on evaluating eyewitness testimony, false and recovered memories, wrongful convictions, false confessions, and evidence identification in the legal process. As a result, students were able to assess how scientific knowledge was used to avoid biased court procedures and unjust sentences. 

According to CLP Online Course participant Vritti Gulati from India: “The best part about Prague Summer Schools, and that I really liked, is that it’s highly selective. Honestly, I would recommend this course to anyone, whether they have an interest in crime or law policy or psychology or not, just to have a global perspective on these issues. The CLP Online Course was enriching, very global and challenging.” Another student Zoe King from the UK noted that the CLP Online Course was eye-opening and thought-provoking: “[In the course] you gain a kind of knowledge that can help you get a leg up in life.”

 The other Online Course offered this summer, Online Summer School on Development, Sustainability and Globalization (DSG), focused on problems in global development and how to solve them by addressing political, economic, technological, and environmental factors. Students evaluated the tensions between globalization, sustainability developments in international trade, a multilateral global system, business, and NGO activities in developing countries. The goal of the course was to identify factors of social development and business that are financially and environmentally sustainable.

According to DSG student James Badenhorst from South Africa: “The program as a whole was really interesting, and I think each lecturer brought something different to the table. The whole experience was very enriching. What I really liked about the lecturers was that all three were excellent. Killian made his lectures quite personal by bringing in his experience in the coffee industry. He gave a very different perspective compared to just a lecturer teaching just a theory. He kind of made it a real world thing, bringing in his own personal experiences. I absolutely loved Lisa’s enthusiasm and energy. Even though it was virtual I could feel it. I was excited for her lectures! Many things I heard in her lectures, I heard for the first time, so it was very insightful.”

Another student, Islam Abdel Jabar, from Jordan highlighted: “It gave me a general overview of what the specialisation of international development looks like. David Nyaluke’s lecture was the most interesting to me, the reason being that it changed my view about Africa.”

To summarize, PSS overcame all potential obstacles and gathered 100 participants from 46 countries to deepen their knowledge and share their experience in a digital space. We would like to thank each Online PSS participant who attended this very special 16th edition of PSS. We couldn’t have made it without you!

We are extremely grateful to the PSS Faculty, Josh Davis (PhD), Jim Hill (MA), Laura Farrugia (PhD), Andrew Clark (PhD), Deon Erasmus (PhD), Killian Stokes (MA), Lisa Trogisch (PhD researcher), David Nyaluke (PhD), Eva Patrikakou (Prof) and Marek Havrda (PhD, PSS co-founder) for their tremendous efforts in creating an engaging digital lectures series.  We appreciate your loyalty and long-lasting collaboration with PSS. Lastly, we want to give a big thanks to the PSS2020 Team (Laura Migliacci, Veronika Pouchova and Teresa Bilanova) for their well-calculated organisation and excellent coordination of this year’s project! 

With such a successful summer, we believe that this will not be the last rendition of Online Summer Schools. Our students’ experiences and organisational abilities have proved that it’s worth continuing with online classes in the future. However, we haven’t given up on organising our usual in-person PSS Programs. Nothing beats being able to shake hands, give a friendly hug, and create long-lasting summer memories here in Prague! That being said, we are hopeful and looking forward to next summer!

You can find more about PSS at www.praguesummerschools.org.