Max Weber Programme 2012-2014: In retrospect

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Michalis Rousakis (ECO MW Fellow 2012-2014) Career Development Fellow in Economics, Merton College, University of Oxford

It has only been a few months since I left Florence and the European University Institute, where I spent two years (2012-2014) as a Max Weber Fellow in Economics. Yet, it turns out that it’s not too early to start realizing the Max Weber Programme’s profound impact. Since last October, when I moved to Oxford as a Career Development Fellow in Economics, I have often had to draw on a number of skills that I developed during my time in Florence. So, when I was recently preparing a syllabus for my tutorials, I knew I had to make sure that the learning objectives were aligned with the course assessment. My presentations now incorporate the overwhelming advice my EUI colleagues and the Max Weber team offered me (explain things slowly at the start, avoid technical terms when possible, wait a little bit before responding to questions, don’t overrun, breathe with your belly before a talk, make eye contact etc.) as well as my own personal impressions after having watched myself on video many times. The collegiate system of Oxford means that in the Senior Common Room meals I usually sit next to scholars of other disciplines, an interaction for which the MWP has prepared me much more than sufficiently, while, guess what, in a month from now I need to offer a 10-minute overview of my research to an interdisciplinary audience. When I write, I always bear in mind the always-in-generous-amounts comments and suggestions on how best to communicate my research that was given by my colleagues from the economics writers’ groups and, of course, by Alyson, David, and Laurie from the Academic Communication Skills team – not forgetting the website provided by the MWP which I also still use. The APG sessions, especially those during my first year, have influenced my approach to, and knowledge of, issues like publishing, academic ethics, grant applications, etc., while my research itself has benefitted enormously from my close interaction with the Max Weber economics group, as well as the macroeconomics group of the department of economics and its many very successfully-run working and reading groups. But, of course, the Max Weber Programme has always been much more than the sum of its components and that’s thanks to the many talented, rounded, quick-witted, and often larger than life characters it sets the stage for.  With Florence and the Tuscan hills providing the setting, it doesn’t take one too long to build many genuine friendships. Certainly, the ‘divine’ wine and food help, and this note couldn’t have finished in any other way as opposite me stands the photo of an angry Dario Cecchini holding a piece of meat in his hands – a souvenir from the 2013 Max Weber bistecca pilgrimage. I will write about football and the legendary ‘Ramones’ on another occasion.