Political scientist to direct The Europe Center

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Kenneth Scheve plans to build on The Europe Center's strength as a magnet for faculty and researchers interested in European issues.
Photo credit: 
Rod Searcey

Kenneth Scheve, a professor of political science and expert on the politics of economic policymaking, has been named director of The Europe Center.

The announcement was made Wednesday by Gerhard Casper, director of the institute.

“As we add to our work on governance in developing countries by also focusing on the governance issues of the developed world, including Europe and the United States, Ken will bring just the right expertise and scholarship to the Europe Center,” Casper said.

Scheve succeeds Amir Eshel, the Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies. Eshel, a professor of German studies and comparative literature, has led The Europe Center and its predecessor – the European Forum – since 2005. Casper thanked Eshel for his eight years of outstanding leadership and added that the emphasis Eshel placed on the humanities will remain a defining element of the center’s work.

The European Forum was founded in 1997 and renamed The Europe Center three years ago. The center has matured into Stanford’s focal point for European policy-oriented research and is part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Division of International, Comparative and Area Studies.

Scheve (pronounced SHEE-vee) plans to build on the center’s strength as a magnet for faculty and researchers across Stanford who are interested in European issues.

“The mission of The Europe Center is to promote interdisciplinary research on the history, culture, institutions and people of Europe with the idea that that in itself is an important objective,” he said. “Studying Europe with a mix of perspectives from the social sciences and the humanities is a productive way to learn about an array of social and political phenomena that face all societies.”

He said two of the most important issues in international relations – failed states and the role that international institutions play in managing conflict and cooperation – can be better understood through a thorough study and examination of European history, society and current affairs.

“The European Union is the most mature and complex international institution that’s ever been developed,” Scheve said. “Seeing how it both succeeds and struggles to govern is instructive in thinking about how international institutions function in the world more generally. Governance issues within European states, in relation to the EU, and in Europe’s relationships with the rest of world are important public policy problems about which research at Stanford can play a role in informing contemporary policy debates.”

Along with continuing to provide a vibrant forum for faculty, Scheve wants to expand The Europe Center’s relationship with Stanford students.

Looking to the university’s Bing Overseas Studies Program, he sees an opportunity for the center to provide more research and internship opportunities for undergraduates planning to study in Europe.

“We can help prepare them for their overseas studies and help promote undergraduate courses and research opportunities in and about Europe,” he said. “I want us to bridge their educational experience on campus with what happens in the Bing program in Europe.”

For graduate students, Scheve wants to encourage interdisciplinary research by offering grants and fellowships with a particular focus on pre-dissertation and dissertation completion support.

Scheve – who is currently writing a book on the comparative history of the rise of progressive taxation in 19th and 20th century Europe and other advanced economies – has taught at Stanford since 2012.

He previously taught at Yale and the University of Michigan. His first experience with Stanford came in 2005, when he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Scheve holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame. He earned his doctorate in political science from Harvard in 2000.