From EUI to LSE: Professor Elias Dinas on CIVICA’s faculty visits


EUI Professor and Head of the SPS Department Elias Dinas is one of the academics selected for the first edition of the CIVICA Faculty Short Visits Scheme. In an interview, we asked Professor Dinas about his intense one-week journey from the EUI to the LSE.

Professor Elias Dinas, Head of the EUI Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS) and Professor in that department, spent five days at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) thanks to a short-term fellowship funded by CIVICA. The European University Alliance CIVICA involves ten leading universities in Europe, including both the EUI and the LSE.

Professor Dinas, could you tell us about your CIVICA faculty visit at the London School of Economics? Why did you want to go to LSE and what did you work on during your visit?

It was a logical choice for me to select LSE for this mobility programme, as I am currently involved in two ongoing projects with colleagues from LSE. One of these projects is in collaboration with Florian Foos from the Department of Government, who served as my primary host during my visit. The other project is part of the CIVICA research initiative and involves collaboration with Anna Getmansky from the Department of International Relations. I had the opportunity to work closely with both Florian and Anna during my visit, during which we made crucial decisions, resolved an outstanding issue, engaged in in-depth discussions, and significantly advanced both projects.

Furthermore, I had the privilege of interacting with LSE professors, meeting PhD students at the university, and delivering a presentation at both the 'LSE Political Behaviour Seminar' and the PEPSI seminar series hosted by the Department of Government at the University of Essex. I also had the opportunity to present at the UCL brown bag seminar. In sum, it was an exceptionally productive week.

What are your main takeaways from your CIVICA faculty visit?

Thanks to this experience, I strengthened existing connections and simultaneously forged new ones. I provided feedback on the work of LSE PhD researchers and engaged in discussions with colleagues regarding their ongoing research. Additionally, I received valuable feedback on my own work. Mobility activities like this one enable academics to collaborate with colleagues in person, which greatly aids progress in both academic and project-related endeavours. These short-term visits offer invaluable experiences that should be actively promoted.

I made a joke with some colleagues, referring to this week at the LSE as to my “short-term sabbatical period’’. This short sabbatical was a refreshing experience. I really recommend both to professors and to researchers [from one of the CIVICA universities] to apply for a CIVICA Faculty Short Visit. I already know some colleagues in my department are interested in applying for the second call for these visits, and I warmly encourage them to do so.

Could you tell us a bit more about the CIVICA research project you are working on?

It is the interdisciplinary project funded within CIVICA on ‘Migration, Terrorism, and Democracy’. It involves the Hertie School, the EUI, and the LSE. With this project, we want to find out how Europeans respond to migration and its alleged nexus with terrorism. To give you an example, we have conducted an experiment using vignettes to evaluate how information about migrants, as either victims or perpetrators of crimes, affects attitudes towards migration by host populations. The results of our experiment showed that a lot of people have a perceptual bias in how they receive information. They tend to see immigrants as perpetrators of crimes and natives as victims, even when the scenario of the experiment was inverted (the native being the perpetrator and the immigrant the victim). This project aims to provide insights into how policy-making could foster more inclusive attitudes and behaviour towards migrants in host countries.

What are your thoughts on CIVICA?

I think CIVICA is Europe at its best. It works and this is the most surprising and important message of all. It works. It fosters learning, research, and training across both faculty and students of the universities that are members of the consortium. It builds extremely useful complementarities. Consider the SPS Department at the EUI, a small department in terms of faculty, having the chance to interact with departments as big as those of LSE or Sciences Po. And vice versa, how the EUI can prove useful through its more designated PhD programme, for early career researchers across the board. 

Interview by Lucia Giannini (EUI Editorial Team).

Photo credits: EUI