Petra Schleiter and Nick Owen have begun in post as the new Joint Heads of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, following their election to the positions in February. The new Joint Heads are, of course, well known to the department. Schleiter is Professor of Comparative Politics and Tutorial Fellow (St Hilda’s) at Oxford and Constitution Unit Fellow at University College London. She is also an Editor of the British Journal of Political Science. Her research focuses on comparative political institutions and behaviour. She has published in journals including AmericanPolitical Science Review, Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and the British Journal of Political Science.
Owen is Associate Professor in Politics and Praelector in Politics (The Queen’s College) at Oxford. He is the author of Other People’s Struggles: Outsiders in social movements (OUP, 2019) and has published articles in journals including Past & Present, Historical Journal and Journal of Modern History. His current work is described on his research website.
Schleiter and Owen said: ‘We were very honoured when our colleagues voted for us to lead the Department for the next three years. We proposed an ambitious agenda: to develop our research portfolio; to enhance our offering to undergraduate and postgraduate students; to address staff workload concerns; and to affirm our commitment to equality and diversity, by working toward an Athena Swan Bronze accreditation.
We would also like to thank Desmond King, Andrew Mellon Professor of American Government, for standing for election. It was an unusual contest, not least since our views of the Department differ so little, and since we each hold the other in such high regard. We are grateful to him, and those who supported him, for the collegiate spirit of the election.
In the course of speaking to many of our colleagues over the last few months, we have learnt a lot about how they see the opportunities and challenges facing us. We look forward to many more such discussions over the next three years, to working with everyone in DPIR, and building on the many successes Louise Fawcett, Head of Department, and others have achieved.’
Since February, Owen and Schleiter have been working closely with Professor Louise Fawcett, the outgoing Head of Department and Catherine Lieben, Head of Administration, in preparation for taking up the headship in October. The new Joint Heads said: 'Much has changed since February. The Department faces new challenges in almost every part of its work. But we are a strong department, and our first task is to remain resilient in defending our research income, adapting our teaching, keeping up our recruitment, and supporting all our staff and students. We remain committed to delivering what we promised, and we look forward to working with everyone in the Department of Politics and International Relations to do so.'