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New Chair for Western European Studies

by Julia Sommer, Public Affairs
posted November 4, 1998

Steven Weber"I operate on the bubble-up model," says Steven Weber, associate professor of political science and new chair of the Center for Western European Studies (CWES).

"You can't affect people's research here, but you can bring them together and see what bubbles up from the contact," Weber says. "You need a broad base of knowledge to understand Europe. To fully understand the political and economic impact of aging, for instance, you need the expertise of demographers and sociologists. When interdisciplinary things happen, everyone gets very excited."

One result of Weber's bubble-up model was the recent CWES conference, "EMU: Getting the Start Game Right," concerning the Economic and Monetary Union to be launched by 11 European countries Jan. 1.

"The EMU is an incredible experiment," says Weber. "No one knows how it will work out. We'll learn a great deal from it."

Weber's field is political economy, especially the politics of economic change. "I'm interested in the dynamics of cooperation and creation of new political and economic institutions, which takes place in areas as diverse as arms control and stock markets," he says. "The stakes when new institutions are created are high."

He has nearly completed editing the book, "Globalization and the European Political Economy."

"Western Europe is incredibly interesting right now," says Weber. "It's the most politically and economically dynamic place in the world. Attention is swinging back from Asia to Europe, and that will accelerate."

Weber's seemingly boundless energy has taken him in many research directions, most recently the first-ever pan-European high-tech stock market, EASDAQ; public-private partnerships emerging in Silicon Valley (in collaboration with associate professor of city and regional planning Anna Lee Saxenian); and another collaborative project developing predictive models for the Middle East peace process.

Weber's varied expertise has been called upon by government policy-makers, the European Commission, and Global Business Network -- a consulting firm in Emeryville that brings together governments and large, multi-national companies "to think creatively and in a disciplined way about the future," explains Weber.

He has been political consultant to the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and recently returned from a meeting of government and business leaders in London on the future of Europe.

Originally from New York City, Weber received his BA from Washington University, proceeding on to Stanford Medical School, where he came within three months of completing requirements for an MD.

Realizing political science was his true love, Weber earned his PhD from Stanford in 1988 with a thesis on US-Soviet arms control.

Then he had to decide between Harvard and Berkeley, choosing Berkeley in part because "the intellectual environment is more open here and we attract the best graduate students."

Weber also teaches two undergraduate courses, "International Relations" and "European Union Politics."

To work off some of that excess energy, he's a competitive bicyclist, riding about 200 miles a week to keep in shape.

"I do my best thinking when I'm high on endorphins," he says.


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