I’m Reader in Politics at Aston University, where my research is particularly focused on German politics. In the past, I studied at Oxford and Birmingham Universities, and also spent a (wonderful) year in Munich. Alongside my day job, I am a local politician in Oxford and an active football referee.
What does a typical day in your job look like? Is there any link/relation to German/ Germany?
A typical day might involve teaching, meeting with students in person or online, but also research – so sitting at my desk catching up on recent publications, or working with colleagues to analyse and interpret data – and then write up the results. An evening might also involve attending an in-person or virtual event – I love co-operating with think tanks and other such bodies.
If you are teaching, what sparked your interest in education and teaching? Especially in teaching abroad?
I’ve always been excited by ideas and feel privileged to work with students and help them get the most out of their degree. A year as an assistant teacher in Germany gave a great insight into the country, and I also learned a lot from being a student there.
Which experiences have you gained during your stay in Germany and how has it influenced your career path/ personal development?
When I first went to Germany – cycling from Hamburg to Berlin along the Baltic coast in 1992 (I was young then!), I got bitten by the bug. The country was fascinating, people were very friendly, and I was especially interested to understand the difference between East and West. I also became very interested in regional variation in Germany having discovered just how different southern and northern Germany are, and a lot of my academic work is about those differences.
Which city in Germany have you been studying/researching and what was/were the reason/s for choosing it?
I went to Munich on a student exchange in 1998/99. A great year, fascinating in politics (there were several important elections), and I forged some great connections. I chose it just because it was the exchange on offer – my college had a link with the Stiftung Maximilianeum, famous for its free beer for students. How could I refuse?
Who has inspired you the most in your career and why?
For me it’s about the great people who are part of the journey – inspirational teachers and colleagues too numerous to mention (and people I’ve interviewed for my work). Some conversations really stay with you.
What do you like in or about Germany? Can you give an example?
Ach, what’s not to like? Friendly folk, a fantastic experience in the football stadia on match day, a country which is genuinely reflective about its past. I’m a huge fan of Karneval in the Rhineland, and am a member of the “Red Star of Dransdorf” Karneval association. Always a highlight.
Is there a (German) book or (German) author or maybe German film you always return to? If yes, why?
Books: I’m a fan of Stefan Heym. I’m not a film expert but am a massive devotee of Tatort and Polizeiruf 110. You can read a short blog post about why I enjoy this here.
Which is your favorite city/ place in Germany and which in the UK/Ireland and why? Are there any similarities or differences?
I can’t pick just one. I love the humour and friendliness of the Rhineland, the buzz of political Berlin, Munich will always feel like home, the quality of life (and wine!) in Trier is something else! My home city of Oxford is a firm favourite, but is very different, though also friendly and with some spectacular beauty.
What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had in the UK/Ireland so far? How did you react? What did it remind you of?
Well the day the Cologne fans “invaded” Arsenal was pretty German. Nice to see everyone queueing in such an orderly way for the tube afterwards.
Can you cook a German dish without a recipe? If so, which one and where have you learned it?
I used to make a mean Obazda but I’m keeping an eye on my weight these days!
What advice would you give to students who are thinking of choosing your field of study/research?
In Politics, keep a close eye on current affairs as well as your required reading, and don’t be shy about signing up for political events online or in person as well as formal lectures.
What advice would you give to UK/Irish students and researchers who are thinking of pursuing research abroad in Germany? Or alternatively to German students and researchers who are thinking of pursuing research abroad in the UK/Ireland?
Do it, do it, do it! And do find out about what DAAD can offer.
Ed is currently chair of the IASGP and has organised the DAAD funded Election Trip 2021.
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