Newsletter - December, 2020

What Our Alumni Say

Olimpija Hristova Zaevska (MA 2011-2013)

PhD fellow, Copenhagen Business School 

"My CEU education is absolutely the foundation of my professional development and career. The critical thinking and skillset I have gained have helped me a lot in working in Government and policymaking. I will always consider the CEU as my alma mater."

Givi Silagadze (MA 2017-2019)

Policy Analyst

"It was intense but invaluable. The time I spent at CEU equipped with crucial analytical and methodological skills."

Elena Ryabova (MA 2001-2002)

Director of Development, Chess in the Schools, a non-profit in New York City, USA

"The year at CEU has changed my life opening my horizons and teaching me to strive for the best. I have found life-long friends and outlined my professional career while spending unforgettable time in Budapest."

Berkin Secme (MA 2018-2019)

Market Research Analyst at Ipsos

"The quantitative aspects of the program for sure! If I didn't take those statistics classes I probably wouldn't be able to find a job so quick, since the job market is quite problematic here. I thank CEU for teaching me all those things :)"

Nikita Khokhlov (MA 2019-2020)

PhD student at Dublin City University, research fellow at ICSID HSE

Maria Stanisheva (MA '03)

Film director, producer and founder of ANIMADOCS

"The MA program was unique as it was specifically designed for the change that was happening in Central and Eastern Europe at that point in time and it gave me an incredible insight into critical thinking and contemporary political thought."

Ioana Petre (MA 2009-2011, PhD 2011-2016)

Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation

Ivan Vukovic (PhD 2009-2014)

Mayor of Podgorica, Montenegro 

Chirayu Thakkar (MA 2018-2019)

Manager to a Member of Parliament in India

Akop Gabrielyan (MA 2012-2014)

Executive Assistant to Founder & CEO at Teach For Armenia Foundation "Today I visited CEU, where a Master's degree was received some years ago. Referring to the years of my study here, I always remember these years with satisfaction and the feeling of pride, as I didn't betrayed my views, remained loyal to the idea of academic impartiality..."

Hani Sulastri Hamid & Marko Kukec (MA 2012-2013)

Hani is Planning, Learning and Accountability Coordinator at Rikolto Indonesia & Marko is Post-doctoral researcher at Helmut Schmidt Universität, Hamburg "When we first met as colleagues at the Department of Political Science, we could not have imagined how profoundly the year spent at the CEU will shape our professional and private lives."

Bruno Castanho Silva (PhD 2012-2017)

Post-doctoral researcher, Cologne Center for Comparative Politics, University of Cologne "Pursuing a PhD in political science at CEU was one of the best decisions I took in my academic career. The department is incredibly diverse in both methodological and substantive interests, with world class scholars."

Gergo Zavecz (MA 2010-2011, PhD 2011-2017)

Junior Research Fellow, Central Bank of Hungary "My time at CEU was remarkable in so many aspects: I was a CEU student when I did my first empirical research, when I first received a research grant, when I first published in a journal, when I was first asked to write a book chapter..."

Imre Szabo (MA 2009-2010, PhD 2011-2016)

Post-doctoral fellow at University College Dublin "The single best decision in my professional life was when I applied to CEU’s Political Science MA program in 2009. I had an experience at CEU that shaped who I am in fundamental ways. I have learnt how to process complex information about the functioning of political systems and societies."

Bogdana Buzarnescu (MA 2009-2010)

Principal Assistant - Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe "CEU, and in particular, it’s political science department, has been an enriching and truly formative period for me. Firstly, it has been a year of intensely demanding yet intellectually stimulating studies."

Constantin Manuel Bosancianu (MA 2008-2009, PhD 2011-2017)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, “Institutions and Political Inequality”, Political Economy of Development research area, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Germany. "I have pursued both my MA and my PhD degrees at CEU, and I consider it to have been an excellent choice. The programs have allowed me to gain the skills that are indispensable on an increasingly competitive European academic job market."

Maria Fedorova (MA 2013-2014)

Data Analyst at International Organization for Migration "Few years in my life so far were as intense, challenging, and rewarding as the year I spent at CEU. The academic excellence combined with a great variety of classes was truly impressive. The knowledge I got proved to be useful years later and helped me substantially in my work."

Sharon S. Belli (MA 2014-2016)

PhD Researcher, Political Science Dpt., University of Antwerp, Belgium "CEU made me fully understand my potential. Each student is treated individually and professors make sure that everyone develops a critical mind along with valuable skills. I would never have gone on with the research if it were not for the mentors, professors and colleagues who challenged me."

Ivan Nikolovski (MA 2015-2017)

Junior researcher at the Institute for Democracy ‘Societas Civilis’ – Skopje and President of JEF Macedonia – Macedonian national section of the Young European Federalists movement "The primary reason for choosing the 2-year master program in Political Science at CEU was to upgrade my knowledge of the state-of-the-art and gain the necessary research skills. But CEU offered me more than that."

Martin Molder (PhD 2012-2017)

Researcher, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu "I will always look back at CEU with fondness and gratitude. By now I have been working and studying at different universities for around 15 years. From all that, my time at the Department of Political Science at CEU clearly stands out."

Zainiddin Karaev (PhD 2001-2004)

Trust Funds management - Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV) Group, The World Bank "For me, experience at CEU and Budapest has been transformative in every way. CEU offered enabling learning environment, backed by a strong group of professors, who were friendly yet demanding."

Maximilian Spinner (2007, PhD)

Foreign Policy Department of the Federal Chancellery, Berlin “For me CEU was a very intense and enriching experience, both academically and personally. Academically in terms of a demanding but intellectually very rewarding environment, personally through the great variety of students’ nationalities, academic and professional backgrounds.”

Armin Haeberle (MA 2004-2005)

Head of Corporate Development Frankfurt Business Media - Part of the F.A.Z. Publishing Group, Frankfurt, Germany "CEU was a great experience for me. While the academic level was really demanding, the atmosphere was always friendly and the support and interaction with the professors and university staff a real pleasure. I wouldn’t have thought that a Master’s Degree can be so intense and intellectually stimulating and so much fun at the same time."

Juliane Sophie Stein (MA 2012-2014)

Researcher, Institute for Political Science - Centre for Political Science, Hungarian Academy of Science "One of my major motivations for choosing CEU's Department of Political Science was the attractive combination of excellence in teaching and research on the one hand, and the good range of scholarships on the other. "

Olga Victorovna Smirnova (MA 2001-2002)

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, East Carolina University "My life can be divided into before and after CEU. This was a truly transformative year for me as a student of Political Science. Coming from one of the far most regions of Russia, I have experienced new cultures, met new life-long friends..."

Benedek Kurdi (MA 2012-2013)

Doctoral Candidate, Social Psychology, Harvard University "The curriculum of the Political Science MA program at CEU offers a reasonably broad and, at the same time, in-depth introduction to the social sciences. The Department of Political Science is very special in the sense that whereas each professor has their own preferred methods..."

Aliya Abbasi (MA 2012-2013)

PhD candidate, University of Queensland "Every day spent at CEU was full of learning, challenges, opportunities, motivation and a sense of achievement. I came to the Political Science Department with a particular aim to study research methodology but my whole conception about knowledge has changed."

Batlang Seabo (MA 2012-2013)

Lecturer in Political Science, University of Botswana "Studying at CEU, in the Political Science department, is indeed a rare privilege that will potentially open up opportunities for me in the future, particularly for my career in research. It is a life-changing experience, an investment in my future."

Andrej Nosko (IRES MA 2005-2006, PhD 2013)

Director for Europe at PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law "To succeed in the current world, you need transferable skills, which will enable you to succeed in many walks of life. CEU provided me with intellectually stimulating environment to acquire them and head start my career."

Stela Garaz (MA 2004-2005, PhD 2005-2012)

Consortium Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at Habitat for Humanity EMEA "CEU contributed greatly to my professional growth due to its committed faculty, access to a great variety of resources, and high quality of teaching. But most of all I have benefited of the enriching multi-cultural environment of the university with its unique body of students..."

Daniel Horn (MA 2003-2004, PhD 2004-2010)

Senior Fellow, Institute of Economics, Center for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences "CEU is a true academic and intellectual community. Meeting people from all around the world and contrasting approaches from all around the scientific spectrum helped me to develop personally..."

Grigorii Golosov (MA 1993-1994)

Professor of Political Science, Project Director, Center for Democracy and Human Rights Helix, St. Petersburg "I spent the 1993-1994 academic year at CEU Pol Sci Department, then newly formed. Academically, the time spent was more than worth it. The variety of different subjects within political science that the relatively small academic staff was able to offer was simply astounding."

Annamaria Orban (PhD 1999-2003)

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Communication, Budapest University of Technology and Economics "The CEU PhD program helped a mother of two kids near 40 to speed up her academic carrier… "

Evgeni Evgeniev (MA 2000-2001, PhD 2001-2007)

First Secretary at Permanent Representation of Bulgaria to the European Union “CEU is a meeting place for people of different cultures, knowledge and experience. "

Mano Toth (MA 2010-2011)

PhD, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge "My time at CEU was very rewarding. Engaging in thought-provoking debates expanded my vision and allowed me to go beyond the rather top-down learning experience of my undergraduate years"

Jennifer Yip (MA 2010-2011)

Supervisor, Survivors of Trafficking Empowerment Program (STEP), Refugee Services of Texas "CEU has allowed me develop my capacity in many ways. The activities organized on and off campus made me more socially active and the courses more academically-driven. "

Miles Maftean (MA 2010-2011, PhD 2012)

Lecturer, Eotvos Lorand University "My experience at CEU led me to develop a whole different idea of what learning actually is - it isn't simply obtaining and retaining truth and justifying this truth, but understanding what truth means to all different groups of people around the world"

Winne Ko (MA 2010-2011)

Project and Policy Officer at International Diabetes Federation Europe "CEU is truly global and the 10 month experience not only filled up my intellectual capacity, but also changed my way of thinking about the wider world"

Yuliana Palagnyuk (MA 2003-2004)

Head of the Jean Monnet Department, Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Policy and Management, Institute of Public Administration, Black Sea Petro Mohyla State University in consortium with “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” "CEU was a wonderful experience as it helped me to grow both professionally and personally. "

Endre Danyi (MA 2002-2003)

Lecturer and Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Sociology, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main "The Central European University is all about transformation and movement. It is about the fascination with the ways in which societies, places and practices transform – sometimes slowly, sometimes overnight."

Emilia Lubenova (MA 2007-2008)

Business Development Expert at New - I JSC, Bulgaria "CEU and my Budapest experience are very precious to me, I will always keep them in my heart. You helped me to be what I am now - I feel young and successful and it is sure that you contributed a lot to this feeling of mine"

Sule Chousein (MA 2006-2007)

PhD Candidate, Atatürk Institute on Modern Turkish Studies, Bogazici University "I regard my one year MA experience at the CEU as the best experience of my life. CEU is indeed a unique home which blends academic excellence with her truly dedicated, friendly and professional academic staff with equally exceptional students from all over the world."

Mariana Sireteanu Gustavsson (MA 2000-2001)

Postdoc in Political Science, Linköping University, Sweden "Looking back I can describe CEU as a great meeting place for people, for different cultures, knowledge and experience"

Hairong Lai (PhD 2003-2008)

Executive Director, China Center for Overseas Social and Philosophical Theories "Central European University opened up a new world of research in political science to me."

Peter Stamatov (MA 1995-96)

Associate Professor of Social Research and Public Policy and Distinguished Researcher and Santander Endowed Chair at the Carlos III-Juan March Institute for the Social Sciences (Madrid) "I remember the year I spent at CEU as an exciting time of exposure to ideas and people new to me"

Peter Vagi (MA 2002-2003)

Senior Adviser, Policy Making, Strategy and Reform at OECD - OCDE / SIGMA, Paris, France "Studying at Central European University was one of the greatest journeys of my life. Being a Hungarian myself, it was also a great experience to explore my home city, Budapest together with foreigners from all over the World"

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Dear Friends, 

I am honored to have the opportunity to contact you again through our e-newsletter. Although all university teaching had to move online, and faculty and staff moved to home office at the end of October, my colleagues and I have strived to adapt and utilize the opportunity of remote teaching the best possible way.  

Department Seminars have been taking place online and recordings are made accessible to the public.  

Professor Levente Littvay is sharing his pre-recorded lectures as part of a weekly online series. The first out of six videos was made together withProfessor Erin K. Jenne(IR, CEU), in which they are covering a few important principles in voting behavior. 

We have some good news for our prospective applicants because CEU increased stipends as of 2021/22. We remain thankful for your help in sharing this possibility with interested applicants, as well as attracting the next generation of talented Political Science students.

Best wishes,
Zoltan Miklosi
Associate Professor
Head, Department of Political Science

As a tradition, I would like you to ‘meet’ again one of your faculty members – this time Levi Littvay sends his personal message too. 

Dear alumni, dear friends,

What year is this again? Oh, it’s 2020. Then, I better start this letter with the mandatory “I hope you are not dead” statement that was included in every letter we wrote or received since the spring. Why should this one be an exception? Here goes: “I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are well and you are staying safe… and sane. (I can’t say I am. But let’s move on.)

So, you might ask, what did life look like for a newly minted Full Professor of Political Science like myself in 2020? It was February when I was returning from Bamberg, Germany, the other host of the ECPR methods school, to the hills of Florence, Italy’s European University Institute where I was on fellowship for the year. Little did I know that a few weeks later everything would shut down. I was planning to peacefully write my book, work on my articles - and then 2020 happened. My three-year-old daughter was sent home from preschool. And we were limited to the one block radius of our home (and the grocery store). Soon, other countries started to shutter. And the shutdown reached CEU classrooms a few weeks before the end of the Winter Term.

Earlier in the school year, I helped a student at another Hungarian university get access to one of our courses. He said, the transition to an online classroom was very organized in both places. The difference was that it took a few weeks at home, while at CEU the Rector said this needs to happen and an hour and a half later everyone had access to the platform and the classes were online. (He doesn’t know it, but it took a few days of prep work, and the Rector only sent the decision when everything was ready to go. Still. This was amazing.) But of course, nobody really knew what to do. Everyone tried to turn their webcams, their computers into their classrooms and teach as if nothing happened. And it worked, a testament to everyone’s commitment to make it work.

In late spring, I was still stuck in Florence and not a single word was on paper of the projects that were supposed to be done in the summer. (And as I type this I realize, nothing has been written since either.) My full time job became trying to figure out how CEU will be able to host the ECPR Methods School in the summer. It was clear, and the decision was made relatively early, we are not going to have a normal event. The three-week methods school with 500 participants had to move online. A few months later, everyone’s full time job became a more conscious, more deliberate and more effective online education plan for the Fall.

Today, our classes are duplicated to accommodate the people who were able to show up in Vienna and also those who couldn’t. The online classes have morning slots and evening slots to help students who are scattered around all of the globe’s time zones. We found tools to create a social learning environment without having the common space of the classroom to converse. We learned to make education work for the most diverse university in the world in times when borders are closed. Is it perfect? No. There are many problems. But it works and the things we learned along the way, I am convinced, will enhance students’ experience for years to come even once we are out of this ugly pandemic.

We did other things in 2020 as well. We made a new campus in Vienna our full-time residence, cut a deal with the city for our beautiful permanent home that will be the envy of the most beautiful US garden campuses. The breathtaking Otto Wagner-designed Steinhof is going to be the archetype of the American campus in Europe. Imagine a beautiful park with gorgeous buildings, students hanging out on the grassy hillside. Someone shows up with a guitar. It’s spring. The weather is getting better. These future students already made Steinhoff their home. They live there. They study there. They have fun on these grounds. And these are not just the same kinds of students you found in the Budapest dorm. They also include undergrads, now intermingling with their MA and PhD peers. This year, 2020, we also started teaching undergrads political science at CEU. That’s probably not what we will remember of 2020, but it certainly should have been.

This year was not fun. I constantly had to remind myself that despite everything really sucking bad, I am extremely lucky. Many lost close loved ones or went through unprecedented economic hardships. I do sincerely hope you are in an equally lucky situation. But do not be hard on yourself even if you are one of the lucky ones. It is OK to feel like this year has been horrible. I do believe that the future is brighter and it is coming fast. And as such, I hope you will continue to be our future, our community, and our heritage. You make us proud and it is a feeling we could use more of in 2021.

Sending lots of Love from Vienna

Levi Littvay

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