No description

July 2023

1. Can you share an achievement you are particularly proud of? How has it influenced your
career and approach to education?

An achievement that I hold particularly dear was receiving an invitation to speak at the UK Parliament on the relations between the UK and Central Europe. It was a remarkable experience, both professionally and personally. Talking in the historical parliamentary building, a symbol of democracy, added a breath-taking majesty to the whole event. A moment of profound awe and humbleness. In a similar vein, I was over the moon when the British FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) invited me to participate as a speaker at the prestigious Wilton Park conference. This forum is highly respected, serving as a platform for off-the-record discussions on various policy challenges. Last but definitely not least, I was honoured with the opportunity to deliver a Master class for FCDO staff. It was a huge privilege to share my insights with the very people shaping policy decisions in the UK.

For a Czech scholar not based in the UK such as myself, each of these experiences felt a bit surreal, like something out of a dream. I had to keep pinching myself :-) I am just really grateful, you know. This has been more than I could have hoped for. I have learned so much and I am ready to keep on learning. And that’s it, actually. All of this reinforced my belief in the ongoing journey of learning. I mean, each of these engagements, each discussion, was not just an achievement but also a learning experience in itself.

2. What exactly got you super interested in British politics?

My fascination with British politics goes back to my teenage years, and believe it or not, it was sparked by none other than William Shakespeare. I have always loved his work, the twists of his tragedies, the wit of his comedies. In fact, my love for Shakespeare was so intense that I remember spending hours meticulously copying his plays word by word into my exercise books. There was something about the process, the ink connecting to paper, that made me feel closer to the words, the characters and the world he created. I still have those worn-out exercise books at my parents’ house. I was even cast as Juliet in our high-school production of "Romeo and Juliet" - quite the experience, I must say. :-)

So, how does Shakespeare connect to British politics? Well, his plays are filled with political plots and power struggles and as I sought to better understand these themes, my curiosity naturally led me to learn more about British politics and its history. Over time, this curiosity evolved into a serious interest, and eventually, a field of research. It's been a fascinating journey from those handwritten pages of Shakespeare to following the dynamic world of British politics, something that continues to intrigue me every day.

3. What would you recommend to students that are interested in UK/EU relations but are
somewhat sceptical about how to proceed with following their interest?

First of all, remember that scepticism is not a barrier, but a sign of a healthy intellectual appetite :-)

Well, I'd say treat it like a trip to the British Museum in London. It may seem overwhelming at first with its immense collection, but with the right approach, you can appreciate and enjoy it all. You don't need to digest everything at once, start with the highlights and then dive deeper into the sections that truly captivates you.

Just as with any complex topic, begin with a solid understanding of the basics. Get a grasp of the historical context. It's like the origin story of a superhero saga - once you know the backstory, the current plot makes much more sense. Next, keep up-to-date with current events – read newspapers, follow credible sources, listen to podcasts, watch debates. Trusted sources like BBC, The Guardian, Politico or the Financial Times can be your guide.

And last but certainly not least, take my courses at FSS Department of International Relations and European Studies – “Britain and the EU“ at the undergraduate level and ”Brexit: Politics, Policies and Processes“ at the graduate level. These will serve as your roadmaps, helping you navigate through the labyrinth that is UK-EU relations. Plus, it will be loads of fun, too! :-)

4. As someone passionate about Brexit, what are the major challenges you see in the UK/EU

UK-EU relations is a fascinating field, filled with unexpected twists, colourful characters and moments of high drama. It is like a real-life “Game of Thrones”, but with fewer dragons and more tea. Now, regarding the challenges, I think that apart from the practical and technical aspects, one formidable challenge is managing the emotional fallout caused by the contentious Brexit negotiations. This Herculean task involves a complex interplay of diplomacy, patience and open communication, as it requires addressing the very real feelings of resentment and anxiety that have unfortunately emerged on both sides of the Channel.

5. How important do you think it is for academics to participate in international exchange programs and collaborate with scholars from different parts of the world?

I think it is extremely important, as it enriches us academically, culturally and personally. Take Erasmus, for example – it’s an absolute goldmine of experiences. I've been very lucky to have experienced UK universities through it, both as a student and later as an academic. With Brexit, that's sadly not an option anymore but I'm keeping my hopes up that an alternative will be found soon. And then there's the incredible experience of working on research together with some fantastic colleagues and friends from not only the UK, but also from countries like France and Germany. It's so much more than just work; it's a chance to mix things up, get fresh ideas and learn from each other. Honestly, I can't stress enough how valuable it is.

6. Can you tell us about your experience lecturing courses in English programes? Are
there any specifics teaching international students?

I love the experience, it is a beautiful challenge. One of the most thrilling aspects is the diversity that international students bring to the table. It’s like having a world map come alive with so many distinct perspectives and cultures. It's a fulfilling endeavour that expands not just the students' horizons, but mine as well, making the big world a little bit smaller, one lecture at a time.

7. Do you have any messages for our students?

Certainly! My message is: as you navigate through these years of academic discovery, don't forget to enjoy the journey. Treasure the friendships you forge, the mentors you encounter, the experiences you gather. These are as integral to your education as the degree you strive towards. Also remember that classrooms are not just spaces for lectures, they are arenas for debates, incubators for ideas. So, here's to you, the brave explorers of knowledge, the future shapers of our world! Keep learning, keep questioning, keep growing.

8. Finally, can you share any upcoming international speaking engagements or research
collaborations that you have planned?

Oh, with pleasure. My next international speaking engagement will be at the UACES conference in Belfast in early September. Apart from presenting my research at two panels and chairing over another, I‘ve had the privilege of being invited to talk at a panel on how to succeed in academia. It is dedicated to helping young scholars as they chart their course through the challenging landscape of academia. As someone who has been navigating this path too, and with two little kids at that, it is a fantastic opportunity to give back, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Beyond that, there are, indeed, very exciting research collaborations going on. Apart from UK-EU relations, a topic that never ceases to intrigue me, we are venturing, for instance, into the discourse on artificial intelligence or the rhetoric of trust. So, stay tuned for some exciting stuff.

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.