Head of the Department of Political Science resigns

Professor Peter Munk Christiansen has decided to step down as the head of the Department of Political Science as of 1 February. Professor Christoffer Green-Pedersen will serve as acting head of department until a new head of department is found.

Photo: Maria Randima, AU Foto

A desire to return to research and teaching was the deciding factor behind Peter Munk Christiansen's decision to resign as the head of department.

His contract actually ran until the end of November, but his strong desire to return to his original field of research and teaching has convinced him that now is the time to step down.

"I'll be 68 in four months, and then I'll have two years to end my career as I would like to," says Peter Munk Christiansen, who has been the department head since 2015 and has been part of the department management team since 2008.

Therefore, Peter Munk Christiansen is now returning to his primary interests of research and teaching: The political decision-making process.

"The influence of special interest organisations and preparation processes for decisions are still increasingly interesting," says Peter Munk Christiansen.

"I believe that I’m handing over a Department of Political Science in really good shape. Our finances are under control and we have a vibrant and constructive work environment. Many of our researchers are world-class, and our graduates are in high demand. Being head of department has been fun and rewarding, but in recent years I’ve spent more and more of my time on administrative tasks," he says.

When Peter Munk Christiansen became head of the Department of Political Science, he was also the chair of the board of directors for the Danish Council for Independent Research (now Independent Research Fund Denmark), and he remained in this position until 2018.

"The minister at the time was Esben Lunde Larsen, and he made the largest cuts in public research funding ever, including the non-earmarked research funding, and this called for new thinking. I tried to direct everyone’s attention towards the ERC (European Research Council, ed.) instead, but there was very little response. Instead, the department took its own gamble, and we had quite a lot of success. We went from zero to the good portfolio of ERC grants we have today. That, and a couple of other major grants, is probably what I'm most proud of after my time as the head of department," says Peter Munk Christiansen.

However, the large number of new grants allocated to the department in general has also presented challenges for the department and the head of department.

"The Department of Political Science has expanded tremendously in recent years, and maintaining cohesion at the department has been a great challenge, among other things in relation to onboarding new employees. But I think that we have managed to create and maintain a vibrant and constructive work environment, where we are open with each other, and where we both give and receive constructive criticism from colleagues," says Peter Munk Christiansen.

The high ranking overall for the Department of Political Science on the international Shanghai Ranking of 1,800 universities worldwide, and the four consecutive years as number 1 within the research field of “Public administration and management”, makes the soon-to-be former head of department very proud.

"There are many different opinions about these rankings, but ranking as high as we do could make us a little smug. On the other hand, I think we have a reason to be smug," says Peter Munk Christiansen, who after a moment of reflection adds:

"Yes, you can quote me on that."

In connection with Peter Munk Christiansen’s decision to step down as head of department, dean Thomas Pallesen says:

“Under Peter's leadership for nearly nine years, the Department of Political Science has attracted substantial external funding and has successfully recruited some of the most talented researchers worldwide, spanning all significant fields of political science. It has been a pleasure to witness the department receive the recognition it deserves, not only in Denmark but also on the international stage, with Peter playing a significant role in this accomplishment.”