Ost Honored for Political Expertise – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Ost Honored for Political Expertise

HWS professors – such as David Ost, professor of political science – lead the way in their fields on campus, across the nation and around the world. Thanks to his expertise and activism, Ost recently received two prestigious forms of recognition: one by the Polish government and another by the American Political Science Association.

Ost, a European political scholar who specializes in Polish politics, was invited to Poland as a guest of the City of Bydgoszcz for its March 2009 anniversary commemorations of the events of 1981, when a Solidarity-sponsored general strike originated there. Ost had spent time in the city during that time and wrote extensively on his experiences.

So it’s no surprise that his invitation to return came from Mayor Konstanty Dombrowicz and Senator Jan Rulewski. “Naturally it was a great honor to be invited by such prominent political officials,” Ost said. “I was struck, too, by how political figures in Poland, and probably in most of Europe, are more comfortable being candid, talking about politics in a serious way, than they are in America, where most political figures seem capable of speaking only in sound bites.”

While in Bydgoszcz, Ost spoke at public meetings, gave interviews to the press and radio and met with groups of students. Reflecting on his recent visit to Poland, Ost said that, “One thing I’m particularly glad about is that I’m able to give Poles a different perspective on their own history.”

“Because I’m not entwined in their day-do-day political matters, I offer an outsider’s perspective, and many people seem to find that perspective enlightening,” he said. “Students in particular seem glad to have this alternative perspective, particularly as I discuss issues related to emerging class conflicts that in the Polish context are hardly ever discussed.”

As someone who frequents Poland, Ost noted that, “This was important to me because it was in a relatively small city with a German past — Poland before 1918 was divided into three different states, Germany, Austria, and Russia — and a populace more focused on business and less on politics than many other cities.”

“I’m less familiar with this region than I am with the others, so my trips there recently have added a great deal to my comparative understanding not just of Poland but of Eastern Europe more generally.”

In addition to being recognized by the Polish government, Ost has been selected as one of the four members of the Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha Award Committee of the American Political Science Association (APSA). The group is responsible for selecting the Best Paper presented to APSA’s national conference.

Ost, who joined the Political Science faculty at HWS in 1986, holds a bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. His current scholarly interests include Postcommunist politics in Eastern Europe (particularly Poland), Labor and democracy – comparative explorations, Europe and America – the changing relationship, Eastern Europe and between the United States and the European Union, Globalization protests and chances for a new international order.

His recent publications include “After Postcommunism and the Decline of Labor in the East: Lessons From Poland and Elsewhere,” in Sociologie du Travail (2009); “The End of Postcommunism: Trade Unions in Eastern Europe’s Future” in East European Politics and Societies (2009); “Using America Against Europe: Poland’s National Reactions to Transnational Pressure” in Transnational and National Politics in Postcommunism Europe (2008); and “Euroskepticism as Path of Inclusion: Multi-Level Governance in the European Union as Seen From the East” in Multilevel Governance and Democracy (2008).

His book  “The Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe” is in its second printing; “European Politics in Transition” is in its Sixth Edition.