Daniel Ziblatt named new director of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies

Photo by David Elmes for Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies

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Internationally renowned scholar of democracy and state-building in Europe, Daniel Ziblatt, has been named the new director of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES). Ziblatt, who serves as Harvard’s Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, will begin his three-year term on January 2, 2024. He succeeds Grzegorz Ekiert, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Government, who has served as CES director since 2012.

“For more than 50 years, CES has been the leading center for the study of Europe at Harvard and in the U.S. and a bridge for scholarly exchange across the Atlantic. As we witness perpetual challenges to democratic institutions around the world, Daniel’s important scholarship is ideally suited to build upon the center’s mission and shape a compelling intellectual vision for the center,” said Lawrence D. Bobo, dean of social science and W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University.

Ziblatt has been a resident faculty member at CES since 2003 and served as acting director in 2014 and 2019. Ziblatt’s global bestseller “How Democracies Die” (with Steven Levitsky, Crown, 2018), has been translated into over 25 languages.

His new book with Levitsky, “Tyranny of the Minority,” (Crown, 2023) was published on Sept. 12.  Ziblatt’s earlier work, “Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy,” (Cambridge University Press, 2017), was awarded the American Political Science Association’s 2018 Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book in government and international relations as well as the American Sociological Association’s 2018 Barrington Moore Award for the best book in comparative historical sociology. Ziblatt has also led the Transformations of Democracy Research Unit at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB).

His scholarship has been awarded the 2019 Berlin Prize by the American Academy in Berlin. This year, Ziblatt was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“I am honored to lead the center at such a challenging time for Europe, as it confronts a multitude of pressures due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, deepening geopolitical tensions between China and the United States, changing demographics and migration, fissures in transatlantic relations, and the challenge of de-democratization in countries such as Hungary and Poland,” said Daniel Ziblatt. “This is an important time for students and scholars to study Europe and its history. I look forward to working with my colleagues to build on the center’s deep traditions to promote and expand the research and debate of Europe at Harvard and beyond.”

“It has been my privilege to serve as CES director for 12 years and to work with a talented and dedicated group of colleagues. We have worked together to build student interest in European studies at Harvard as Europe has confronted a financial crisis, a refugee crisis, Brexit, fractures in the transatlantic relationship, and a war at its border,” said Grzegorz Ekiert. “I am delighted that Daniel will be the next director. His passion for Europe and his expertise in the study of democracy make him ideally suited to lead CES at this juncture.”