Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Study of Economy and Society, Cornell University

Post in: German

This month I am a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Economy and Society, at the Department of Sociology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Prof. Victor Nee leads this Center, and he was also my theory professor when I began graduate school here 19 years ago at Cornell, so it is a special pleasure to be back and to join his research lab in a new capacity, this time as a professor myself.
Several graduate students met with me during my stay to talk about careers, academia, and research strategy. The work done here seems to focus on networks and markets and entrepreneurship, borrowing from a variety of fields as diverse as chemistry and the life sciences. The Center draws on a national elite network of scholars to provide opportunities for learning and training and conversation to move the perspectives forward. John Padgett visited while I was a fellow, for example. The entire Center seems designed to inspire innovation.
Being back after more than a decade away from Cornell has been fascinating and eye-opening. I have learned a great deal since I left. I have a better grasp of the sociological classics and a broader literature than I had when I was in the USA.
I also notice that graduate students at Cornell are still as concerned about the unknowns in their career futures as we were back then. The offices are the same, and so is the furniture. Technology has changed, and so have salaries and funding duration – more generous now than 19 years ago! Laptops and cell phones, which we didn’t have when we started in the mid 1990s, change the way work and communication is done.
One of the special pleasures of the Cornell experience is the incredible number of visiting speakers in any given week. I could easily fill every day attending stimulating talks. Just within the department, there were 2-3 talks per week with outside scholars. I am not sure when people get their research and teaching done with all these enrichment experiences, but I suspect that, as was true when I was here as a graduate student, one works late and long hours to make up the time spent.

Leave a Reply