Jean Crombois: Applying a Liberal Arts Philosophy to European Studies Is a Winning Formula

Any student looking up European Studies Professor Jean Crombois’ professional resume before a first class with him will be impressed and maybe a little daunted at first. However, soon enough students also discover his calm and easy manner and welcoming smile, and embark on a fascinating journey through Europe under his able guidance. Only after taking multiple classes with him do students realize that a resume does not even gloss over the surface of his achievements, as he never stops developing his expertise and knowledge.

A native Belgian, Professor Crombois holds a Ph.D. in Modern European History and currently divides his time between teaching at the American University in Bulgaria and his research interests and academic publications.

Professor Crombois gets deeply involved with his students’ work and career trajectories, and says he was particularly pleased when a student told him that he got the idea for his master’s thesis from a discussion in one of his classes. He adds that most of his former students continue to develop and specialize in the field of European Studies, a testament to the strength of the European Studies program at AUBG.

Prior to coming to AUBG, Professor Crombois spent a few years helping to establish an academic tradition in European Studies in non-EU countries. In 1999 he was offered a three-year Wiener-Anspach Post-Doctoral fellowship at Balliol College (University of Oxford). There he participated in a project aiming to set up a master’s program in European Studies at the University of Tomsk, Russia. In 2004 he headed to Morocco to develop European Studies courses in the international studies program at Al-Alakhawayn University. After spending a year and a half in Morocco, Professor Crombois came to the American University in Bulgaria to prepare students of European integration for the approaching accession of Bulgaria to the European Union.

Professor Crombois says that the work of European Studies students is far from over after Bulgaria’s accession. He believes that 2007 has brought new challenges for scholars and professionals and has opened the door to new developments in the European Studies program at AUBG. Professor Crombois says that many universities in Europe are going through a process of “Americanization” of their academic programs and methods. That is why he thinks that AUBG has a competitive advantage, as it already applies a liberal arts philosophy to the teaching of European Studies.

Professor Crombois never stops developing his own knowledge. When he is not teaching, he is working on his research interests – European neighborhood policy and history and theories of European integration. At the moment, he is collaborating on a book project about EU crisis management; the publication is due out in the spring of 2010. For those who already know him – and have come to admire him both because of his impressive knowledge and because of his friendly nature – know that, come spring, he will move on to new challenges and projects.


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