5th ECPR General Conference

Start: Sept. 10, 2009
End: Sept. 12, 2009
Place: Potsdam
Organizer: The European Consortium for Political Research
Dear Colleague,

I am delighted to be able to welcome you to the ECPR General Conference 2009, which will be held at the University of Potsdam on 10-12 September 2009. The University was founded in 1991, partially on the grounds of research institutions established during Socialist rule. With approximately 16,000 students enrolled in the University’s five faculties, including about 1,300 foreign students from more than 85 countries, the University of Potsdam is the largest research institution in a city that prides itself on having the highest density of academic and scientific facilities in Germany. The campus site at Griebnitzsee, where the General Conference 2009 will be held, has just been transformed by the addition of a new building, in which most of our events will be held. The Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, which acts as our host, focuses on public policy and public management (broadly understood). It offers BA degrees in political science and public administration, sociology and economics as well as a range of postgraduate degrees, including a Master of Public Management, a Master of Global Public Policy, a Master of European Governance and Administration (offered in cooperation with ENA and Sorbonne in Paris and Humboldt-University in Berlin), and an Executive Master of Public Management with the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

Potsdam -- a brief look at history

Beyond offering the comforts of a generously refurbished campus, the conference location at Potsdam also serves as a stark reminder of the turbulent history that is the backdrop of modern-day European politics. Throughout modern times, the city and region of Potsdam have served as the stage for some of Europe’s defining movements and moments. In 1685, the Edict of Potsdam ended religious discrimination and triggered an influx of immigrants to the city, most notably of French Huguenots. During the reign of Frederick the Great, the city and, most of all, the Prussian monarch’s summer residence Sanssouci became almost synonymous with European enlightenment. Voltaire joined Frederick’s court, where French was the official language, and stayed at Sanssouci for extended periods.

But Potsdam also played its role during dark moments of German’s more recent history. In 1933, the city hosted the meeting during which Germany’s ailing President Hindenburg shook hands with the newly elected Chancellor Hitler. The ‘Day of Potsdam’ came to symbolise the tragic miscalculation of Germany’s old elites and the rise of the national-socialist movement to power, as the Weimar Republic collapsed. Less than ten years later, a mansion at Lake Wannsee just outside Potsdam hosted the notorious meeting of Nazi officials charged with organising the deportation and extermination of European Jews.

After the Second World War, the allied forces chose Cecilia Court Palace as the site of the ‘Potsdam Conference’ to negotiate the terms of German occupation and Europe’s post-WWII order. The Cold War that soon split the continent saw some of its most secretive moments played out in Potsdam. As recently as during the mid-1980s, Glienicke Bridge, separating the East from the West, was used to exchange captured spies and political prisoners. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, and in recognition of its architectural and landscape treasures, Potsdam was declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1990.

We hope you will enjoy your stay at the University of Potsdam and also find the time to experience some of the unique sites this city and region have to offer.

Klaus H. Goetz

Local Organiser, ECPR General Conference 2009
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