How long have you been at LSE and how did you come to join the European Institute?
At LSE forever, initially in the Economics department. I started teaching in the EI in 1993, setting up the MSc in the Political Economy of Transition in Europe (PETE), growing out of my two year’s leave at the World Bank. PETE was the EI’s first political economy degree.
How has the European Institute changed during your time here?
When I first joined, one person was the entire PSS office.
What has been the most memorable moment during your time at the EI?
It was early evening on 30 April 2004, at a party for students doing the MSc Political Economy of Transition in Europe (PETE) to celebrate the fact that the next day eight Central and Eastern European countries would join the EU. Abby Innes (whose PhD was about Czechoslovakia) had asked Czech, Hungarian and Polish friends to write a few words about what EU accession meant to them. Like Abby, they had been students during the revolutions in 1989, and her Czech friends had been expelled from Charles University for signing a dissident document.
One of her older friends had written, ‘what I love most about accession is that young Czechs will be free to travel all around Europe, as I was not, and it will be so normal for them they won’t even think about it. That makes me incredibly happy.’ At that point Abby couldn’t quite finish the letter, and (without looking) handed me the printout to take over reading – Europe is not just geopolitics, it’s people’s lives.
What course or subject area have you enjoyed teaching the most?
EU400, the core course for the MSc Political Economy of Transition in Europe, which I helped to establish. Also EU453 The Political Economy of European Welfare States as a double act with Professor Waltraud Schelkle.
What makes the EI a special place?
Above all collegiality – demonstrated in spades over the past 18 months – across academics, PSS and students.
What excites you about the future of the EI?
Our unique position as ‘inside outsiders’ to the EU, i.e. we can act as observers and analysts sitting just outside the borders of the EU with the knowledge and understanding that comes from over 40 years of membership.
What’s your favourite place on LSE campus?
Houghton Street – the buzz.
What is your favourite place to visit in Europe and why?
The Dolomites in the German-speaking part of Italy – wonderful scenery and happy memories of climbing exploits in younger years. Pretty much equal is, Szentendre, a picturesque small town a short train ride from Budapest with a museum with Margit Kovac’s wonderful ceramics – and memories of my time working for the World Bank reforming welfare states in Central and Eastern Europe right after the collapse of communism.