Profiles of Visiting Faculty Fellows

Robert C. Austin, VFF, Matej Bel University, Slovakia (1995-97)

Teaching courses in US and European history, Robert found his situation to be like the Slovak saying, “A perfect life is to live in Banska Bystrica and then go to heaven.” While there, Robert developed and implemented new initiatives with the blessing of the department head and the support of CEP. These skills, along with a strong regional network and a good understanding of the trends in higher education in the region, have been beneficial for his current position with the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Toronto. In addition to teaching, he now manages several exchange programs with universities in the region, including the Central European University in Budapest.

Janet Livingstone, VFF, Comenius University, Slovakia (1991-94)

“I went to Bratislava with the first CEP group in 1991 and taught international relations for two years at Comenius University Law Faculty. The experience was the most pivotal of my life. Through CEP, I immersed myself in another culture for four years, tried my hand at both teaching and program management, even met and married my husband. My students were the first two classes of a newly founded institute to train Slovak diplomats and public servants. When the countries separated, the Slovaks were faced – among other things – with the daunting task of creating their own diplomatic corps. I was lucky to be in on this exciting process. Most of my students are now senior Slovak diplomats at embassies around the world, and others include the Slovak Representative to the World Bank and officials at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economy, and Defense in Bratislava. I am thrilled to have had a chance to interact with these people when they were young, exhilarated by the Velvet Revolution, and looking to change careers to serve their country in the new era. I continue to live with a foot (and part of my heart) on both continents and always will.”

Doug Reynolds, VFF, Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research (KIMEP), Kazakhstan (1995-97)

The “Hawaii of CEP” is how Doug describes Kazakhstan, where he was assigned just as that country became an addition to CEP. Even though foreign lecturers were provided with many amenities by KIMEP, they felt quite isolated from the international community. As in most situations faced by CEP Visiting Faculty Fellows, it was the students who made the experience unforgettable. “I have always thought that whenever I teach a class I should learn more from my students than I teach them,” maintains Doug. He learned much from his students about the former Soviet Union, what business was like, and how difficult the economic transition had been. This formed the basis of an article in the Journal of Energy and Development entitled “Soviet Economic Decline: Did an Oil Crisis Cause the Transition in the Soviet Union?” Today, Doug uses his experience from Kazakhstan in teaching oil and energy economics in Alaska.