30th Anniversary Greetings

CERGE-EI expresses its thanks for the congratulatory messages it has received for its 30th anniversary from people who have been part of its story. 

CERGE EI 30 Years Slogan w950


Prof. Jan Švejnar, Ph.D., Director of the Center on Global Economic Governance and Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

What would you wish to CERGE-EI students, faculty, researchers, and staff?

"Well of course the best - great success, they've done a terrific job so I think the first thing to say is to sort of give them what they deserve - namely the recognition that they've done incredibly well, starting with the staff, the professors the students and obviously I think what we want to ensure is that this goes and expands in the future so it remains a leading institution in the world. And obviously the graduates, those who have their diplomas here, have the major interest to continue to have diplomas that come from an elite institution."

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doc. Ing. Josef Zieleniec, CSc., New York University in Prague

"For me, the beginning of CERGE and the beginning of newly acquired freedom merged. Just a few days after the tumultuous events of the Velvet Revolution in November 1989, Jan Švejnar and I began discussing the prospect of a new research and educational economics institution.

It was clear to us that reforming the economic research and education that existed at the time, which was based on a Marxist political economy, would be a task that would require years (and indeed it proved to be a task for many, many years!) On the other hand, the radical political and economic reforms that were just beginning required immediate research and personnel support. The only solution was to build a new institution from the ground up, which, by focusing and functioning in English, would be able to integrate immediately into the international research community.

And this was how the first Proposal was conceived, which Jan and I began to take around to the new, emerging leadership entities of state institutions and universities.

It was harder than we had originally imagined it would be. Universities are generally very conservative institutions, and the radically new concept of a department that we came up with provoked a lot of resistance. The very idea of a school operating in English within a Czech university was indigestible to many.

It was only thanks to the first post-revolutionary (or rather, revolutionary!) rector of Charles University, Radim Palouš, that we were able to set up and start our activities at all.

The first years of CERGE were marked by uncertainty arising from the great differences between CERGE and the rest of the university, and the resulting tense atmosphere around our new institution.

Staffing was a major challenge. Because CERGE operated in English, the teaching staff could be largely composed of foreign professors. Many top economists from foreign universities wanted to support the development of real economic science in the former Soviet bloc countries after the fall of the Iron Curtain. CERGE was a project that met this aspiration. With students, paradoxically, it was a bigger problem. The economics that was taught under communism was largely an ideological discipline with almost no connection to empirical research. This was accompanied by little to no knowledge of mathematics among economics graduates. Ignorance of "economics" was therefore rather an advantage for doctoral studies at CERGE, which taught mainstream economics from the very beginning, the same as economics is taught in Western, mainly American, universities.

For these reasons, when recruiting our first PhD students, we looked primarily among graduates of mathematics, physics, and engineering. It was a difficult task to not only find such people, but also to convince them that the study of economics offered a future for them, that there would be a demand for their new qualifications, that their perspectives would open up not only in local, but also in international dimensions.

The first graduates and their successful establishment on domestic and international labor markets was a significant event for CERGE, and contributed greatly to the final stabilization of the school in the Czech university environment and to its prestige in the international academic community.

Today, 30 years after its foundation, the school enjoys an international position comparable to the best institutions in the world. Its graduates have always and continue to belong among the top echelons, whether in academia, central banks, or financial institutions.

Our original vision, which Jan Švejnar and I talked about so much when we started writing the first Proposal, has come to fruition.

If I were to wish CERGE something for its 30th birthday, it would be that the school will succeed in expanding to cover all the basic fields of modern economics through research and teaching. The presence of experts from all key areas in one department would certainly add to the creative atmosphere and give CERGE a new dynamic in both research and teaching in the decades to come."

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Parent institutions

prof. RNDr. Eva Zažímalová, CSc., President of the Czech Academy of Sciences

"On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education –Economics Institute (CERGE-EI), I would like to say a few words about the broader context of this important anniversary. Above all, I am pleased to state that the first agreement on cooperation between the Czech Academy of Sciences and CERGE was signed shortly after the establishment of the center. In the following years, thanks to ever closer mutual relations and contacts, a joint workplace of the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University was created, which has gradually become a recognized research center not only domestically but also internationally. It is clear that this success would not have been possible without the significant contribution of Charles University as a key partner in our joint efforts to strengthen modern economic research and education in the post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The joint workplace of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University, as one of the first such workplaces in the Czech Republic, has enabled close integration of research and doctoral education.

Thirty years is also long enough to show whether a research model is viable. I believe that its vitality is best evidenced by the fact that there are now more than fifty joint workplaces of the Czech Academy of Sciences with universities. In the specific case of CERGE-EI, it is notable that it has succeeded in providing evidence of its own viability not only through excellent scientific erudition, but also through research focused on public policy, particularly on the current issues and challenges today's society is facing. A number of successful projects, from which many publications have been awarded at home and abroad, and numerous research, popularization, publication, and teaching activities are eloquent evidence. The quality of research is also proven by the fact that many CERGE-EI researchers have won prestigious scientific awards. I must also emphasize that in the most recent evaluation of the quality of research at the Czech Academy of Sciences, this workplace performed very well. I am therefore pleased to say that its current leadership is successfully continuing the efforts of its predecessors.

After thirty years of engaging in demanding scientific work, it is clear that CERGE-EI is a dignified and respected member in the field of modern economic research and education. It is also an important member of the social science institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and over the past thirty years, it has earned an irreplaceable position among them. I therefore wish CERGE-EI to continue on this successful path thanks to its enthusiastic and diligent people, so that the results of its work can continue to be a significant and valuable contribution to the development of research, education, and culture."

prof. MUDr. Tomáš Zima, DrSc., Rector of Charles University

"Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

We are commemorating 30 years since the founding of CERGE, the Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education. A joint workplace of Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences, it emerged 30 years ago to assist in the development of science and research in the area of economics, building on the experience of leading world economics experts to support students as they gain excellent knowledge in the field.

CERGE ranks among the top institutions in the field of economics research and education globally. Its activities within the University and the Academy of Sciences, both in the Czech Republic and in an international context, have led to the emergence of many important papers, and, most importantly, of more than 600 economic specialists who are working around the world today. The Center's master and PhD programs rank among the most prestigious, and are available to students from all around the world.

I would like to express my thanks to all current and past CERGE workers for their excellent research, and for passing on their knowledge to many of the top economists of the future, who will continue to spread the good name of our university worldwide. I would like to wish CERGE another successful 30 years, many prestigious projects, and success in continuing to produce excellent experts in economics.

Thank you."

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Distinguished collaborators

Prof. Paul R. Milgrom, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate in Economics, Professor of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University

„Hello everyone, I’m Paul Milgrom. What a pleasure it is to celebrate with you today the 30th anniversary of CERGE-EI. I’ve been an up-close witness to some of the accomplishments of the faculty and students. But I don’t want to single anyone out for special praise today when it’s really all of you who should be celebrated. Keep being honest with yourselves, dare yourselves to pursue new directions, work hard, and keep supporting one another. I expect even greater things from you over the next thirty years.”

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Prof. Gérard Roland, Ph.D., Professor of Economy and Professor of Political Science, University of California

"After the collapse of communist regimes thirty years ago, there were many attempts to establish education and research institutions bringing modern economics in postcommunist countries. Most of these attempts failed and CERGE-EI, set up under the leadership of Jan Švejnar, with the help of brilliant young economists from the region and the support from world class economists (including several Nobel prize winners) survived and thrived to become the jewel of graduate education and research in Central Europe.

This is a great accomplishment. I congratulate all those who contributed to make CERGE-EI a great success, and, given the very high quality of research of its professors, I have no doubt that the next thirty years will see CERGE-EI making even more progress. Personally, I am proud to have been part of this experience so far."

Prof. Angus Deaton, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate in Economics, Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus, Princeton University

"Many congratulations to CERGE-EI on its 30th birthday. It was clear from the start that here was an extraordinary institution with a very bright future. It was my pleasure to serve in Prague for a few years, so I had first-hand experience of how much work was involved, and how many difficulties had to be faced. But the promise, the commitment, and the persistence were always there, and it is a joy to see this important and distinguished institution celebrate its full maturity. I am sure that the next 30 years will be even better!"

Prof. Orley Ashenfelter, Ph.D., Professor of Economics, Princeton University

"I first visited CERGE-EI almost 30 years ago. It was a unique experiment that has survived and thrived, and I'm very proud of my association with it. The quality and character of both students and faculty have created an academic jewel in Europe's system of higher education."

CERGE-EI Faculty & researchers

Prof. Ing. Štěpán Jurajda, Ph.D., Mellon Endowment Professor with Tenure

"Imagining the region without CERGE-EI, without its impact, makes me thankful for how resilient and successful it has been. Social sciences have an immense task to help societies deal with major challenges ahead and I trust CERGE-EI will provide as much of a role model in this regard as it has in its first 30 years."

Byeongju Jeong, Ph.D.

"When I came to CERGE-EI two dozen years ago, we were young and aspiring. Since then, CERGE-EI has become mature, stable, and known widely for excellent research and education. I am thankful to all those who contributed to our success in so many ways, and wish to congratulate all of us."

Doc. RNDr. Filip Matějka, Ph.D., Associate Professor with Tenure

"I want to thank CERGE-EI for making it possible for me to do research in economics and to live in my home country at the same time. If it were not for this institution, I would probably either be a professor somewhere far away, or academia would be a closed chapter for me. Thanks again.

I hope CERGE-EI prospers, continues to find new avenues where it can be useful, and strengthens those students that it is nurturing now. I also hope that the institution will find even more people who see CERGE-EI not as an end in itself, but as an extremely helpful vehicle that can in the long run help to make our society healthier for all of us. CERGE-EI deserves the energy and means to continue to flourish."

Doc. Mgr. Jakub Steiner, Ph.D., Associate Professor with Tenure

"CERGE-EI has scientifically redefined itself over the past ten years. Research contributions that used to be exceptional for CERGE-EI are now our daily bread, and breakthrough research that seemed infeasible for us is now being achieved by a growing number of faculty members. We have claimed our place on the map of international science. I hope that CERGE-EI will reach a similar level of maturity in all other aspects of its mission and functions. Like other thirty-year-olds, our institution may benefit from "settling down'' and re-defining its goals. Fingers crossed for ongoing fruitful outcomes of this soul-searching!"

Alena Bičáková, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow

"Ten years ago, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, CERGE-EI could proudly describe itself as well-recognized international institution producing well-published economic research and providing high-quality post-graduate education. It is wonderful that over the last ten years, CERGE-EI made further steady progress towards academic excellence.

We are proud to be an institution with researchers that regularly publish in the top five international academic journals in economics, receive prestigious international grants (including ERC) and awards and are respected worldwide as top experts in their fields. We are equally proud of many of our students who succeeded in getting very good academic jobs at high-quality international institutions upon graduation and became top economic researchers themselves over the last ten years.

Since the last anniversary, we have also started a new Master in Economic Research program that allows us to enroll top quality students already after their BA level graduation and guide them towards receiving their PhD degree.

Finally, CERGE-EI also continued to take on social responsibility and actively participated in policy-oriented research, policy advisory bodies and public debates. Many CERGE-EI experts have played a key advisory role, especially during the recent COVID-19 pandemics. Congratulations everyone and happy 30th anniversary!"

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