15 March 2010
Czech criminologists honour RMIT academic
A sociological society based in the Czech Republic capital, Prague, has named an award in honour of RMIT lecturer, Michael Benes. Image © istockphoto.
Mr Benes and Charles University Social Science Master graduand, Mgr Frantisek Bartos, who received support to present his research in 2009.
An RMIT University lecturer has been recognised for his years of contribution to criminology in the Czech Republic through an award named in his honour.
The Masaryk Czech Sociological Society (MCSS) has established the Benes Award, for the most accomplished Honours or Master thesis submitted in the field of social pathology, social deviance and criminology, in honour of the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning’s Michael Benes.
Mr Benes has sponsored a select group of Master students at Prague’s Charles University since 2006, enabling them to present their dissertations at its annual conference and have their papers published in refereed conference publications and journals.
“Last year I was approached by members of the executive of the social pathology section of the MCSS and asked if I had no objection if an award could bear my name,” he said.
“Considering such honours tend to come posthumously, I was a little hesitant at first, but was quite humbled by the offer and pleased to give my consent.”
Mr Benes has long-standing collaborative links with key organisations and figures in the Czech criminal justice field, including the MCSS, the Institute of Criminology and Social Prevention (IKSP) and the crime prevention division of the Department of Justice.
“My relationship with Czech criminologists, sociologists and the justice field goes back some two decades – a year after the Velvet Revolution,” he said.
“Over those years I've visited frequently, delivered conference papers, run crime prevention workshops, participated in research, published articles and engaged in other academic activities.
“Through these relationships, a dozen RMIT criminal justice students have had the opportunity to complete internships as researchers at the IKSP in recent years, the last returning just two months ago.”
Mr Benes, who was 18 when he defected from the former communist Czechoslovakia in 1968, said he valued giving students opportunities to present their work and push themselves beyond the requirements of their degree.
“Some of the Master students I have supported in the past have gone onto achieve great things in the field of criminology, including one graduate who now works at Interpol and another who is completing his PhD at Prague’s Charles University,” he said.
“Their research has ranged from examining narcissism as a social phenomenon to analysing and comparing social attitudes towards domestic violence in the Czech Republic and US.
“Strengthening the ties between criminal justice at RMIT and institutions in the Czech Republic is an endeavour close to my heart and I hope this new award will continue to foster these links.”
The Benes Award will consist of two rounds, with six students who submit the best thesis abstracts invited to make presentations at the academic colloquium of the MCSS Social Pathology conference. Their travel, accommodation and per diem expenses will be funded through the award.
The best work will then be chosen by the colloquium to receive the $1,000 Benes Award.
All six authors will have an edited version of their thesis published in a peer-reviewed publication.