University of Miami Professor Awarded Distinguished Medal for Expertise in International Relations

Dr. Vendulka Kubálková, a professor of International Studies at the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences and former assistant provost for university-wide international studies, received an important honor from the Czech Republic this year: The Jan Masaryk Medal.

Dr. Vendulka Kubálková

The medal is named in honor of Jan Masaryk, who was the last Czech pre-communist minister of foreign affairs and assassinated during the Communist takeover in 1948.  After the fall of Communism, Masaryk became a symbol of post-communist international relations. The medal is awarded both for foreign policy and academic contributions.

Professor Kubálková won the award for the latter category. She is recognized for being one of the most prominent theorists of international relations of Czech origin. But more important than the medal itself, is the significance of her mother country awarding it to her.

At the height of the Cold War, as a graduate of the Charles University School of Law in Prague, Kubálková won an English scholarship in 1969 when Prague was full of Warsaw Pact tanks. Days before she was to leave for the United Kingdom, under threats, she agreed to cooperate with the Czechoslovak KGB but gave herself up to the British authorities a few days later in the UK. 

For 23 years, she lived in involuntary political exile.  It was a tough time, she admits. Kubálková was stateless, undocumented, and could not return home because of a pending criminal sentence. After the fall of the Soviet Union, she was able to return to the Czech Republic, but only this year she has been invited to teach there. She is a Visiting Professor at the Prague School of Economics, and during her time away from UM, she remotely teaches graduate students from across Europe studying in Prague.

Kubálková received an Ph.D. in International Politics (her second doctorate) and held academic positions in many countries including in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands and the United States.

The Jan Masaryk Medal represents a full circle moment for Kubálková and an esteemed recognition from her mother country.  “It is a great honor, I have never expected it,” she said.


By Andrew Boryga

August 02, 2017