Dr Tassilo Herrschel
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My academically formative years I spent at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn, Germany (MSc Geography) and University College London (PhD). Currently, I am a Reader in Urban and Regional Development and Governance, From 2010 to 2013, I was a board member of the Regional Studies Association, responsible for knowledge transfer and consultations. Earlier, I was Chair of the Post-Socialist Geographies Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society. Jointly with Peter Newman, I established, and still co-direct, the Centre for Urban and Regional Governance (CURG) here at the University. I served as a Member of a grant Commissioning Panel for the ESRC and, was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Gdansk and a Senior Research Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning (IRS) in Berlin. Currently, I am a member of the Scientific Advisory Board (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat) of the IRS, and also a member of the Editorial Board of the journal European Urban and Regional Studies.
In 2014, I was awarded the 'best book' prize by the members of the Regional Studies Association for my 2013 book Cities, State and Globalisation: City-regional Governance in Europe and North America (Routledge).
I have held for many years memberships of relevant professional bodies, such as Fellowships of the Royal Geographical Society and, respectively, the Regional Studies Association, and memberships of the Association of American Geographers and the Urban Affairs Association.
At this point I would like to gratefully acknowledge financial support for my work from inter alia the ESRC, British Academy, Quintin Hogg Foundation and the Regional Studies Association.
Regional Studies Studies Association
European Commission, ERA-NET Cofund Smart Cities and Communities (ENSCC)
I possess many years of extensive teaching experience in political-economic and urban geography of Europe and North America, and my teaching stretches across all levels undergraduate to PhD supervision.
Currently, my teaching includes at undergraduate level an introduction to global political economy, and a more specialist module on the politics of post-communist transition in Central and Eastern Europe, and extensive supervision of undergraduate dissertations with a wide range of topics. At post-graduate level, I teach a Masters class on the international comparative analysis of processes of post-authoritarian transition and democratisation, and supervise a wide range of MA dissertations.
Research Supervision (MPhil, PhD theses)
My interests in supervising MPhil/PhD theses revolve around the topics of:
- the political economy of democratisation processes in Western and 'transitional' (post-communist/ post-authoritarian) societies
- the governance of economic competitiveness in combination with sustainability
- processes of borders, 'bordering' and cross-border relations at varying scales, including questions of identity, nationality, etc
- international (paradiplomatic) activities by subnational (urban and regional) actors
- institutional and political relationships between state, society and capital, their territorial manifestations at different scales, and their impact on forms and function of governance.
Currently I supervise theses on democratisation, cross-border relations and identity in the state-building process in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the politics of ethnicity-based divisions in Lithuania. A recently successfully completed thesis looked at Europeanisation and nationalism in the relationship between Bulgaria and Macedonia.
My strong belief in high quality, engaging and inspiring teaching has been recognised repeatedly by Student Union's Staff Appreciation Awards in 2012 and 2013 as 'Outstanding Teacher', and, in 2014, as 'Outstanding Supervisor'.
Theoretically, my work sits in political economy, with a particular interest in relational and place-centric conceptualisations and analyses of economic processes and political and policy responses at the subnational, especially city-regional, level. This includes questions of the relationship between formally institutionalised territoriality and 'virtual' functional spatiality, and thus the border- and bounded-ness of relational and situational geographies. This involves moving between different scales of analysis, with a particular focus on large urban (metropolitan) areas taking a prominent role as interlocutors between the ‘local’ and the ‘international’. This includes cities and regions acting internationally across borders, adding a particular layer of international relations, while producing an increasingly visible distinction between places that apparently ‘matter’ and those that don’t so much. And such engagement may involve acting as cristallisation points of nationality within established states and the quest for independence (e.g. the Basque region).
My work feeds into three main strands of debate:
- relational approaches with their emphasis on linkages, networks and flows as descriptors of economic and governance spaces;
- place-based interpretations of economic development, place-based competitiveness, and governmental regimes and manifestations of governance practices
- conceptualisation of state territories as scalar constructs in social, economic and political-governmental terms, and their link to constructed political-economic and societal-ideational geographies.
Reflecting the interrelation and inter-connection between these processes, my main interests lie at the sub-national level of urban and regional, city-regional, economic governance and policy-making mechanisms, including those stretching into international level as part of paradiplomatic ambitions.
Geographically, my work includes bi-lateral studies of the UK and Germany, comparative studies at the European level – especially between 'West' and 'East' – and cross-continental comparisons between Europe and North America. This captures differing political cultures, place-based histories and ways of doing things, forms of governance and concepts of the position of the 'state' vis-a-vis society and the market. My work also includes policy-focused analyses, seeking to reach across the divide between theory and practice, and thus contribute to knowledge transfer between academia and policy-making practitioners.
Among my current research projects are:
- A study of network governance at the local-regional level across international borders in the Baltic Sea Region (especially around the Øresund). This focuses on questions of shifting notions of territoriality and the production of peripherality, as an increasingly selective, urban-centric competitiveness agenda generates de facto marginalisation and peripheralisation of actors and spaces as part of network governance. And such geographic fragmentation stretches across geographic scales from the intra-metropolitan to the nation state and beyond – be that the European Union or the global level.
- A globally (North-South, East-West) comparative analysis of 'smart' transitions in city-regional governance, set in a neo-liberal context, investigating democratic challenges to, and mechanisms of, addressing and negotiating between, conflicting and competing agendas – in terms of both policy field and spatial scale.
- An analysis of the role of subnational actors on the international arena, examining the 'conceptual gap' between Urban Studies and International Relations, as they seek to address the growing the 'international' political engagement of cities next to the nation state. This includes voicing quests for devolution and independence by ‘nationality regions’.
A European study into 'Improving Anticipation and Social Inclusion in Living Labs for Smart City Governance' funded by Urban Europe JPI. The three year project, led by Maastricht University, aims to develop a Smart City Living Lab approach to effectively deal with two major risks to successful, widespread implementation of smart transport technologies: (1) unforeseen barriers to large-scale change in socio-technical systems, and (2) exclusion of social groups not matching the required ‘smart citizen’ profile. This novel, ‘smarter’ approach will be developed, tested and refined by retrospective analysis of urban mobility governance and by action research in Living Lab experiments in the cities of Bellinzona, Brussels, Graz and Maastricht. My work sits in the 'Brussels team' (Brussels Centre for Urban Studies/Cosmopolis, VUB) whose work package focuses on the theoretical-conceptual framework of the project and its analytical approach.
My research has also fed into consultancy work, such as assessing ESPON projects, and involves visiting research fellowships, such as at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning (IRS), Erkner/Berlin (2013) and the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies (BCUS) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) (2015 on).