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SPS department boosted by four new professors

Four professors will join the Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS) this September, bringing with them research projects and expertise in areas such as Islamic extremism and European education.

Sociology professor Hans-Peter Blossfeld returns to the Institution after a 20-year break; from 1989 to 1992 he served as the EUI’s Chair of Sociology and Political Sciences, and has spent the past ten years as Chair of Sociology at Bamberg University.

Ulrich Krotz, Joint Chair of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) and professor of international relations, arrives from the US having been at Fritz Thyssen Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. He too knows the Institute well, having been both a Marie Curie Fellow and Jean Monnet Fellow during the past decade.

The Stein Rokkan Chair of Comparative Politics will be taken up by Hanspeter Kriesi, former fellow at the RSCAS and member of the Research Council at the EUI who moves from the University of Zurich. Completing the faculty is Diego Gambetta, who led a short course at the EUI in March and leaves the University of Oxford after 20 years.

All four professors will run seminars in their specialist area over the coming year and supervise PhD researchers, as well as continuing their own research.

Blossfeld brings with him a team to continue research into how people’s lives are affected by their experience of education, a project which was awarded a €2.5 million grant by the European Research Council. “You go through the life history and reconstruct step-by-step with precise data how they developed…We have six generations which we follow-up,” he explains. Complimenting this is Blossfeld’s autumn seminar; ‘Education inequalities over the life course’.

Krotz’s new post sees him realise an aim to return to Europe, to an institution he remembers having “a very intellectual, open-minding atmosphere, diverse yet united in the sense of producing good theoretically-guided empirical research”. He will run two seminars in his first year, examining international relations in Europe and then focusing on “some of the truly outstanding works” on international relations over the past 25 years.

The coming year will also see Krotz hasten towards the completion of his forthcoming book, ‘Divided We Stand: EU Military and Civilian Missions’. “The moment of birth of the cradle of military missions and EU civilian missions has its roots in the mid-1990s, as a reaction against its failure in Yugoslavia,” he says, stating that while thousands of deaths and rapes were occurring on Europe’s doorstep, the region’s leadership stood helpless. In a more modern context, the book will examine joint missions such as training police forces or ensuring safety in the Horn of Africa.

Over the coming months Kriesi will be engaged in the European Social Survey, researching citizens’ expectations and evaluations of European democracy in their own country. He cites the variety of students and the quality of colleagues at the EUI as reasons for the Institute being the ideal place to research such a topic. A seminar this autumn will run alongside the research, while in the spring Kriesi will run a class on the Great Recession – an area he intends to explore in greater detail in the future.

Like the other professors joining the department, Kriesi’s background will aide the EUI’s researchers: “I bring the experience of 35 years of social science theses supervision, with people of very different origins and themes. I also have great research experience so I think they can benefit from that tremendously.”

After 30 years in the UK, Gambetta returns to his native Italy to take up the post of Professor of Social Theory, teaching two seminars in this area. Having authored ‘Streetwise: How Taxi Drivers Establish Customers' Trustworthiness’ and ‘Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate’, he will continue to take a scientific approach to the concept of trust – and mistrust – in society.

Gambetta will also be working on the north-south divide within Italy, he explains: “A project which resumes an old interest of mine is the behavioural differences between the north and south of Italy. With a group of economists in Bologna we have done the same series of experiments in two northern cities and two southern cities; we are working on the results.”

This adds to a project examining the disproportionate number of engineers among violent Islamic extremists, building on an earlier paper. For Gambetta, the EUI’s unique environment would prove beneficial to this and his other projects: “There is a very nice variety of interests which is often a good way of cross-fertilising; you are challenged by people who come from different angles.”

The four professors bring the total number joining the EUI this autumn to seven; one taking up a post at the Department of Law and two at the Department of History and Civilization. 

(Text by Rosie Scammell)


Page last updated on 18 August 2017

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