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From the past into the future

On 3 December 1919 at 9 a.m. the first lecture began in the former State Mansion of Carniola (the current University building on Congress Square), thus ushering in the birth of the Faculty of Arts and the University of Ljubljana. The then barely 29-year old Fran Ramovš presented a lecture on the historical grammar of the Slovene Language.


The birthday of the poet France Prešeren, 3rd December, is therefore celebrated every year as University Day, signifying the birthday of the University of Ljubljana and its Faculty of Arts. The founding of both represents a turning point for our nation, since it is one of the most important keystones on the path of the Slovene people to a modern political and sovereign nation, and at the same time a giant step forward in the development of Slovene science. The Faculty of Arts had 245 students at the beginning, surpassing 300 for the first time in 1927. Few people know that at the time of its establishment, the Faculty of Arts also had a natural sciences and mathematics section, which began the process of separating from the humanities and social sciences section in 1949, only fully separating in 1957.

In the year 1919 the Faculty had 17 major disciplines, of which seven were in the fields of the natural sciences and mathematics, and ten in the fields of social sciences and the humanities, which since the very beginning of the Faculty have been the following: Philosophy, Educational Sciences, History, Geography, Art History, Slavistics, Romance Languages and Literatures, Germanic Languages and Literature, Classical Philology, and Comparative Linguistics. Between the two World Wars, Comparative Literature and Ethnology joined these disciplines. Other departments were established following liberation in the Second World War: Archeology (1948), Psychology (1950), Sociology (1960 – from being a major course of study, it subsequently moved to the Faculty of Sociology, Political Science, and Journalism; in the year 1983 it gained an additional, minor course of study – Sociology of Culture), Musicology (1962), and Library and Information Sciences and Book Studies (1987).

In the 1990s, the Faculty gained the following new or newly divided departments: The Department of Translation Studies; the Department of Asian and African Studies; the Department of Germanic Languages split into the Department of German with Dutch and Swedish and the Department of English); and the Department of Comparative Linguistics was broadened to include General Linguistics. In 2002 the Department of Slavistics split into the Department of Slovene Studies and the Department of Slavistics.

Throughout, differentiation within the basic disciplines has occurred, especially in the language departments, such that today it is possible to study various languages and literatures as an independent course of study. The question of a single or double discipline course of studies was an issue right from the beginning. Double discipline studies predominated, and with a change in the organisation of the study programme, also any chosen connection between disciplines became possible. At the Faculty of Arts it is currently possible to study 25 different disciplines as some combination of a major (A) and minor (B) course of study, or just one discipline as a major course of study.

Master's Degree studies are available for all disciplines; due to the varieties and ever greater interdisciplinarity of the research orientation of the programmes, each Master's Degree study programmeis formulated on an individual basis. Doctorates are awarded in all academic disciplines, i.e. Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, Psychology, History, Art History, Archeology, Ethnology, Geology, Linguistics, the various Language and Literature programmes, Philology, Musicology, Archival Sciences, Museum Sciences, and Conservation Sciences.

The number of doctorates awarded is increasing and in recent years has reached approximately twenty annually. The requirements for a doctoral dissertation are demanding: the author is expected to have broad knowledge and to not be narrowly focused on a limited research field. Interdisciplinary connections are also increasing. With its 631 employees, today the Faculty of Arts is the most important higher education and research institution in Slovenia in the field of the humanities and social sciences.

In 1919 it was established primarily for the purpose of connecting the fundamental fields of academic study in Slovenia, and it still carries out this mission since for the majority of disciplines which have developed within it, the Faculty of Arts remains the highest level scientific and educational institution in Slovenia, and for some of the these disciplines it is the ‘home institution’.

Its 7,700 students help it maintain its eternal youth, although it is a wise old lady that has already seen 90 years of contemplation and operation. It is a faculty that enjoys international recognition and which has respected professors, a broad range of study programmes, the possibility of single or double discipline studies, successful students, international student exchange programmes, numerous inter-faculty connections, its own publishing house, the second largest library in Slovenia, and is an integral part of the very centre of the capital city. The centre of Ljubljana also boasts libraries, archives, galleries, museums, and theatres – all the institutions which represent some sort of natural laboratory for the work of the students at the majority of the study programmes at our Faculty.