Faculty testimonials - SUN 20th Anniversary

Noel Lenski, Department of Classics, Yale University
 
I was blown away by the quality of students and faculty at the CEU. The group-teaching environment meant that I had an opportunity to see my colleagues in action and to learn from their teaching styles and their respective knowledge bases. I was also amazed by the quality of the students, who came from across the world and showed particularly strong representation in Eastern Europe, where there are so many fine young people working in the field of later Roman history.
My favorite memories were touring the late antique funerary complexes excavated at Pecs-Sopianae. The Hungarians have done marvelous archaeological work and the display of their results was an impressive eye opener for me about how much Hungary has to offer the late Roman historian. I also loved the enthusiasm of the students, who bonded in extraordinary fashion in just one week of instruction. They went from never having met each other to forming lasting friendships in a brief span, largely because of the warm and gentle guiding hand of our director, Marianne Saghy. I knew things had clicked when we had people from Italy, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, and the USA playing water-polo in Lake Balaton. A splash of good cheer and camaraderie to cool our racing brains and warm our hearts for ongoing learning together.
 
 
 
Michael Gillespie, Department of Political Science, Duke University
 
I might talk about the beauties of Budapest, the classroom engagement of the students, the thrilling interactions with other faculty, but I think instead I will mention just one event that occurred on the evening of my arrival. I was having dinner in a restaurant sitting next to ta table of students in the CEU summer program, most of whom were from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. They were debating various forms of tyranny, each bringing an example from his or her own experience at every point in the argument. What seriousness of purpose! What depths of meaning! I almost wished that some of my students, in many ways quite brilliant, had had the insights these students had gained from their own suffering and the suffering of those around them. And then it occurred to me that they would soon be in contact with those exact students and would profit from their experiences and perhaps deepen their own thinking about these matters. It helps to be at a place where East meets West and where better than in Budapest.
 
 
 
 
Yaron Matras, Department of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, University of Manchester 
 
Looking back at the first few years of the Summer School, it seems like at the time it was hard to foresee what a significant impact these events would have on the subsequent development of the field of Romani studies. Since then, numerous past participants have published influential work and organised workshops of their own, and some have been involved in this year's summer school as junior faculty. In the retrospect of ten years, I think it is now possible to say with confidence that your work has changed the landscape of the discipline, and that the CEU summer school has become the most important point of networking in this field of study. It is an achievement of which you can be proud, and to which I, and I am sure the other teaching staff as well, am proud to have had the opportunity to contribute.
 
 
 
Guy Stroumsa, Department of Comparative Religion, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
 
This note is just to express my deepest thanks for the opportunity to have been associated to the Summer School, and to have been able to remember, during an intensive week, why we are in this business of higher education. I have returned from Budapest, once more, not only with fond memories, but with some dreams and ideas.
The careful planning of the course made it possible to introduce a broad spectrum of students, coming from very different backgrounds and cultures, to a very ambitious intellectual set of problems. Each of them will go home with another series of impressions, but for all, I think, these will remain active for a long time…
As usual, CEU has proved itself a wonderful host: a university with a human face.
 
 
 
 
Uta Frith, Department of Psychology, University College London
 
I was part of a Summer School on cognitive development organised by György Gergely and Gergely Csibra in 2004 (Understanding Actions and Mind)[…] The speakers were staying in a guest house right on top of the hill at the time, and we were walking to the University down the stairs of the Fishermen's Bastion and over Lanchid Bridge. I was struck by the magnificent view of the city […]I make a point of trying to see this view as often as possible when I come back to Budapest. 
 
I remember some then very young students who impressed me enormously. Now they are famous and hold important positions in universities all over the world! This summer school certainly included a number of some of the very best of a new generation of experimental psychologists, all dedicated to the study of cognitive development. I particularly remember Agnes Kovacs and Ernö Teglas. A few years later they produced ground breaking work, demonstrating in 6 months-old infants a spontaneous ability to represent the beliefs of another person. I am delighted that they are now research fellows at the Cognitive Science Department of CEU where I am fortunate enough to be a visitor from time to time.
 
 
 
János M. Bak, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University
 
Of the several Summer University sessions I took part in, the most memorable is the one we held in 2000 together with the Medieval Academy of America (Committee on Centers and Regional Associations) and the Center for Medieval Studies in Prague. 37 participants (out of 350 applicants!) from 13 countries attended the 4 weeks’ course on “Issues and Resources for Medieval Studies in Central Europe.” 
The aim was to present the possibilities for the study of the history and culture of the region to students and scholars not familiar with the rich holdings of the libraries, museums, and archives in the region. Therefore, we spent time in these institutions not only in Budapest, but also in Cracow, Prague and Vienna, everywhere guided by local experts (and CEU graduates) and given a chance to study “hands on” the manuscripts and accessible exhibits. Several participants knew in advance about manuscripts or charters they wished to study—and were able to.  The booklet that contained a guide to these resources and the reports of the participants on their experiences were printed in eight languages and four alphabets – for the fun of it! Naturally, the many-days’ long field trips and good cheer in the evenings in the various cities engendered genuine fellowship among the participants. For my co-director, Nancy Van Deusen (Clermont Graduate U, California) and me this “road-show” across half of Central Europe was surely the time of our lives. One of the American doctoral students kept in touch with almost all the others for several years as a kind of Facebook before its time. … What remains, is the booklet – see the title page of it, with the “Central European” segment of the so-called Hereford mappamundi (c. 1285).
 
 
 
Mark Balaguer, Department of Philosophy, California State University-Los Angeles, USA
 
This summer I will be co-teaching my fourth CEU Summer University course.  The three courses I have co-taught in the past have been some of the best and most intense professional experiences of my career.  They are always a lot of work, but the payoff has been huge.  They have allowed me to present my work to others in my field, to learn about their work, and to make not just professional connections but close personal friendships.
 
 
 
Barry Loewer, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University
 
I was a director of two Summer University courses..... "Descrying the World in Physics" and “Conditionals". Both were among the most high level and intense philosophical experiences of my life. In addition to me the faculty for Descrying the World in Physics included David Albert, Carl Hoefer, Tim Maudlin, and David Wallace who are recognized as the most prominent philosophers of physics in the world. We had a great group of about 30 "student" participants" including Allysa Ney, Chris Meacham, Toby Handfield, Alex Skiles, Valia Allori, Jill North, who now have positions in philosophy departments around the world and are active contributors to the issues that were the focus of the summer school. The discussions of Everett's many world's account of quantum theory and particularly the issue of whether it is possible to make sense of probability within the account were among the highlights of the course. A lot of this discussion found its way in subsequent articles and books by participants.
 I co-directed the Conditionals course with Jason Stanley. It was also very intense. Its faculty included Dorothy Edgington, Bob Stalnaker, Alan Hajek, Craige Roberts (Jason and me).  There were about 40 very smart participants many of whom are starting careers in philosophy at departments around the world from Belgrade to London to New York to Los Angeles.  
 
 
 
 
Bill Nichols, Department of Cinema, San Francisco State University
 
Teaching a seminar at CEU made me strongly aware of how truly international the university is. Students came from more than dozen countries and several continents. It was a far cry from the diverse but far less diverse student body I encounter in the U.S. And our tour of the archive, seeing the remarkable trove of archived radio broadcasts from the days before the Berlin Wall fell, was a high point for me as well.
 
 
 
 
Peter Callero, Sociology, Western Oregon University
 
I had a tremendously fulfilling and memorable experience as an instructor. The CEU hosts were efficient and gracious, the accommodations were very comfortable, and I found the city to be spectacular in its beauty. But most of all I enjoyed my time with students and faculty from around the world. The interdisciplinary discussions were especially rewarding and I am certain that I learned as much from the students as they did from me.
 
 
 
 
 
John Dillon, Classics, Trinity College, Ireland
 
I took part in the Summer Program of 2012, on the topic Polemos/Pulmus, examining the titanic three-way contest that took place in the first few centuries CE between the forces of Hellenism, Judaism, and Christianity (I speaking up for Hellenism).  I found most stimulating the interchange between the three traditions, and much appreciated consorting with my colleagues, including Guy Stroumsa, Shaye Cohen, Daniel Boyarin, and Mark Edwards. I also much appreciated the hospitality of our host Gabor Buzasi. The university (and the hotel) being situated very centrally to the most interesting part of the city, there was ample opportunity to explore the beauties of Budapest, which I accordingly did. I also much appreciated our boat trip up the river to Szentendre, and excursions up the heights of Buda. I hope that the students felt that they got good value from the course, I certainly found it most rewarding to explore the interactions between the three great traditions.
 
 
 
 
David Weberman, Philosophy Department, CEU
 
I look back on the SUN course from 2010 on Freedom and Experiences of Subjugation as an event that was just right for bringing together five or six fine scholars and a fascinating and international group of graduate students for a stimulating, relaxed and focused discussion of an important topic in political and social philosophy. For myself as for others, it was a terrific experience to learn and discuss under the best of circumstances.
 
 
 
 
Susan Carey, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
 
The summer program was a total delight—walking from the residences across the river to down town, the glorious city of Budapest, and the high quality of the other faculty and students made it a memorable summer.  
 
 
 
 
Diane Stone, Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick
 
For me, there were three tangible benefits with SUN for the three years that I was involved in delivering a summer school. The SUN summer school was a great way to incorporate graduate students into the on-going research dissemination processes of firstly, a Fp6 Marie Curie Chair award and secondly a UK Economic and Social Research grant consortium on ‘non-governmental public action’.  Second, through SUN we were able to connect a number of CEU faculty with the visiting international scholars for some quite productive exchanges. And third, as part and parcel of the social interactions during the summer school, I developed some long term collaborative research and publication partnerships.