Career and Education
Alistair Cole is Head of the Department of Government and International Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. He obtained a 1st in Government and History from the LSE (1980, awarded the Bassett Prize for Political Science) and a D. Phil from Balliol College, Oxford (1986, funded by a BA grant). He held positions in Oxford, Caen, Aston, Keele and Bradford before being named as Professor of European Politics at Cardiff University, Wales- UK in 1999. From 2015-2019, Alistair Cole was Professor of Political Science at the Institute of Political Studies, Lyon, France. He has published extensively, mainly in the field of French, British, and European politics. He has published 20 books (6 single author monographs, 6 co-written monographs, 8 edited or co-edited books), 65 refereed journal articles, 25 professional articles and 62 chapters in edited books. His publications are widely cited (with an H Index of 29 according to Google Scholar). His latest book - Emmanuel Macron and the Two years that Changed France - was published by Manchester University Press in May 2019.
Research Funding and Focus
Alistair Cole has a proven record in obtaining research funding, with 6 grants in last ten years (from the ESRC, AHRC, British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, PALSE-IDEX-ANR and as part of a European Commission Jean Monnet network). Funded projects in the past decade have clustered around questions of trust, transparency, convergence and transfer, each involving conceptualisation in a multi-level and/or transnational context. He will continue to work on these questions that are key to understanding comparative forms of regional integration; intra- and inter-state relationships, civil society and the changing bases of political legitimacy.
Grants And Research Reports
- 2016-2019 (Economic and Social Research Council, UK) 'Trust and Transparency in Multi-level governance' Workpackage 4: civil society, Wales Institute of Social and Economic Data, Research and Methods (WISERD, funded as an ESRC- Centre £5M). Co-Investigator.
- 2016-2018 (IEP, Lyon) 'Fabriquer la Confiance par la Transparence' (Conseil Scientifique, Sciences Po, Lyon, 5000€). PI.
- 2016-2017 'Fabriquer la Confiance par la Transparence' PALSE-IDEX-Agence nationale de la Recherche (ANR-11-IDEX-0007, 61,500€). PI.
- 2012-2015 'Territorial Governance in Western Europe: between Convergence and Capacity' Leverhulme Trust International Network award. Grant number IN-2012-109. (£74330). PI.
- 2014: 'Territorial Governance in Western Europe: between Convergence and Capacity' Collegium de Lyon. (£13,500). PI.
- 2011-2012 'The UK's Role in Eurozone Economic Governance: Meeting the Challenge of Economic Reform' (€25,000) COMM/LON/2011/01. Co-Investigator. Kenneth Dyson was Principal Investigator.
- 2008-2011 'Devolution in Wales seminar series'. HEFCW/Innovation and Engagement funding (£12,000), PI.
- 'Wales in Europe'. British Council Grant (£4,000) for the conference on Wales in Europe at Wales House, Brussels, July 3-4th 2008, PI.
- 2007 'Governing and Governance in France'. Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). £33,295. Grant no: AH/E000134/1. Evaluation Outstanding. PI.
- 2006-2008 'Devolution in Wales Seminar series' HEFCW/Innovation and Engagement funding (£10,000), PI
- 2004-2006 'Governing and Governance in France'. British Academy Larger Research Grant of £14,596. Grant no: LRG-37213. PI.
- 2001-2003 'Devolution and Decentralisation in Wales and Brittany'. £146,518 awarded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Grant no. L219252007. Evaluation Outstanding. PI.
- 2000-2002. 'La gouvernance locale du changement dans les systèmes éducatifs français et anglais'. €5,640 GRALE-GIS grant on the programme 'Inter-Territorialité et Performance Institutionnelle'. With Michèle Breuillard, University of Lille 2. Co-I.
- 1999-2000. 'The Governance of Educational Change in England and France'. £5,000 awarded by the Nuffield Foundation. Grant number: SGS/LB/0278. PI.
- 1995-96. £14,098 Research Grant awarded by the Leverhulme Trust for the project 'Local Policy Networks in Britain and France'. Grant no:Rf+G/10711. PI.
- 1994-96 £81,140 awarded by the ESRC for my project with Dr Peter John (principal investigator) on 'Local Policy Networks in Britain and France'. Grant no: L311253047. Co.-I.
- £3,000 awarded by the Nuffield Foundation for 'François Mitterrand: a Study in Political Leadership'. PI.
Research Reports (11)
- Cole, 'Fabriquer la confiance par la transparence'. Final Report, Sciences Po Lyon, 2018.
- Cole, 'Fabriquer la confiance par la transparence'. Final Report, PALSE, University of Lyon, 2017.
- Cole 'Territorial Governance in western Europe between Convergence and Capacity' Leverhulme Trust International Network (2012-109) Final Report November 2015. Report accepted.
- Cole 'Governing and Governance in France'. Final report to the AHRC for AH- E000134/1. August 2007. Evaluation: Outstanding.
- Cole 'Governing and Governance in France'. Final report to British Academy on the Larger Research Grant of £14,596. Grant no: LRG-37213. Report accepted. April 2006.
- Cole (principal investigator), J.B. Jones, J. Loughlin and C. Williams 'Devolution and Centralisation in Wales and Brittany'. ESRC grant L215292007. Evaluation: Outstanding. June 2003.
- Cole and M. Breuillard 'La Gouvernance du Changement éducatif en France et en Grande-Bretagne'. Final report for the GRALE-CNRS programme on 'Inter-Territorialité et Performance Institutionnelle' June 2002. Report accepted.
- Cole 'The governance of Education in England and France'. Report presented to the Nuffield Foundation, July 2000. Report accepted.
- John. And A. Cole 'Local Policy Networks and Intergovernmental Management in Britain and France: Final Report to the ESRC'. 30 April 1996. Report accepted. Evaluation: Good.
- Cole 'Local Policy Networks in France and Britain', Research report. Presented to the Leverhulme Foundation. 28th February 1996. Report accepted.
- Cole, ' François Mitterrand: a Political Biography'. Report presented to the Nuffield Foundation, May 1993. Report accepted.
Impact and Engagement
My research has been designed to ensure a maximum impact, understood in terms of reach and significance. I have undertaken a history of funded research projects producing impactful outcomes. These are in addition to activities such as the briefing of Ambassadors and advice for government of a more confidential nature.
Some examples of these activities are now provided:
Signing of MoUs :
- Negotiation and signature in 2003 of the Memorandum of Understanding between the National Assembly of Wales and the Bretagne Regional Council. The MoU continues to exist
Evidence to parliamentary Committees :
- 'Respect des territoires : l'expérience britannique' Contribution to the conference organised at the French Senate on Quelle Constitution pour le XXIe siècle ? 15 June 2018.
- Findings to the National Assembly for Wales Committee on External Relations, 2012.
Keynote speeches : some recent examples
- Constitutions Week Keynote Speaker ('Comparative constitutions: lessons from Europe and America') Goa University, India, January 2019. I was invited to present the keynote at a celebration organise by Goa University, the State of Goa and the Governor of Goa. This was reported in the national press (The Hindu).
- Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong ('Macron's Political Leadership'), October 2018. The FCC is the leading think tank in Hong Kong. I was invited to address the FCC in a session organised by Le Monde
- 'Thirty Years of Regions in France': keynote delivered to the conference of the same name held in the Brittany Regional Council, November 2016, at a conference with over 400 delegates, including the President of the Brittany region.
- 'La métropole comme objet politique' Guest lecture to the full Council of the Economic, Social and Environmental Committee (CESER) Rhône-Alpes, 20 November 2014.'
A small selection of the conferences organised with stakeholders :
- 2019: 'Trust and transparency in multi-level governance': Paper presented to the conference on Trust and Transparency organised at the Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany, 21st March 2019.
- 2018: 'Trust-transparency paradoxes'. Conference organized in Lyon as part of the WISERD-TRIANGLE strategic agreement. Conference organizer, 4 May 2018.
- 2015: 'Les régions européennes face à la crise : Quels enjeux de gouvernance pour la Wallonie' ? Co-organiser of this colloquium with the leading think tank l'Institut Destrée at the Palais des Congrès, Namur, Belgium. 10th September 2015.
- 2014 'La métropole comme objet politique. Historicités, catégories d'analyse et enjeux institutionnels de la métropolisation'. Conference co-organiser and presenter, with Renaud Payre. Sciences Po, Lyon, 12-13 November.
- 2014 : 'La goberanza territorial en Europa entre convergencia y capacidad'. One day conference organised in Seville, Spain, as part of the Leverhulme Trust International Network, 26 June 2014.
- 2013: Conference on Welsh Devolution in Perspective, British Academy, London, 31st May 2013.
- 2013: Europeanising Devolution (conference organiser, supported by the Learned Society of Wales, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust and the Cardiff Jean Monnet Centre), 24th May 2013.
- 2009: 'Small countries and the global crisis: challenges and opportunities?' Wales Governance Centre and the Welsh Assembly Conference organiser, Cardiff, 1st July 2009.
- 2003: Regional Governance in Wales, Brittany and Beyond'. Cardiff University, March 14-15th 2003 (Conference organiser).
- 2000: Lesser Used Languages in Comparative Perspective: an Introduction'. Opening presentation at the ESRC-sponsored conference on Lesser Used Languages in Comparative Perspective, Cardiff University, December 1st 2001 (conference organiser).
Publication of conference proceedings with think tanks :
- Alistair Cole, Christian de Visscher & Philippe Destatte (dir.)(2019) Les régions européennes face à la crise : Quels enjeux de gouvernance pour la Wallonie ? Institut Destrée, Namur – Wallonie, Belgium
- Alistair Cole (preface) Wales, the United Kingdom and Europe: Europeanising Devolution London: British Academy (ISBN: 978-0-85672-608-8 ), 2013
Membership of professional societies :
- Fellow of Royal Society of Wales, 2015-
- Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, 2011-
- Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, 2011-
- Member of the Franco-British Council, 2010-
- Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, 2009-
- Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, 2009-
Teaching and Learning
I have taught a very wide range of courses since taking up my first position in 1985-86 at Merton College Oxford, mainly in the fields of Comparative Politics, French Politics, European Politics, Territorial Politics and International Relations. At Sciences Po Lyon, I mainly taught through the medium of French (vie politique française, politiques publiques, politiques europeennes comparées). I have administered several masters' programmes and courses, centred on Europe, International Relations and Globalisation. As an example of my geographical reach, in Summer 2019 I taught a course on European Politics in crisis at the Summer Institute, Hokkaido University, Japan.
While at Cardiff, I played an active role in the School's Teaching and Learning committee as head of Post-graduate programmes and defended this dossier in the Quality Progress Review audit in 2008. I have acted as an external expert on teaching and learning issues on several occasions: at LSE and Aston notably. In 2002, I negotiated the joint degree-diploma scheme between Cardiff and the Institute of Political Studies, Bordeaux, and I coordinated this innovative scheme until 2014. In 2003, I was placed on the European Commission's list of SOCRATES experts. From 2004 to 2009 my major administrative responsibility at Cardiff was as Director of Postgraduate Studies, involving overall coordination of six Masters schemes and around 50 PhD students. I wrote the School's successful submission for ESRC recognition in 2005 and coordinated the School's contribution to the AHRC Block Grant Partnership in 2008. I secured recognition for an ESRC pathway in Language Based Area Studies in the All Wales Doctoral Training centre (2011).
During my period in Lyon (2015-19), I was engaged in teaching at all levels, notably Masters (coordination of the Cities and Regions in Europe course; participation in the University-wide Cities and Urban Environment course); 4th Year Sciences Po Diploma (Politiques publiques comparées en Europe - Comparative European Politics); 2nd Year (Vie politique en Europe -European politics and society); 1st Year (La vie politique française contemporaine – Contemporary French Politics). I participated fully in the Diploma of French and European Studies, with courses on French Politics and Society and Emmanuel Macron's Political Leadership. I led negotiations on creating new programmes with the Hong Kong Baptist University and the University of Loughborough, UK, and associated with similar initiatives in the US (University of Virginia)
In addition to teaching experience, my practice has been guided by several overarching principles:
Research-based teaching. Good teaching is based on good research and vice versa. In my case, students have fully participated in refining perspectives that have subsequently been developed in publications. My French Politics and Society textbook, for example, was based on courses initially delivered in Keele (1989-94). More recent work on territorial governance and political trust has been embellished by student feedback. Students have been beneficiaries of my research into French and comparative politics, and my own perspectives have been greatly developed because of student involvement and feedback.
International-based learning. I have been full professor of politics in three very different systems of higher education, the British, the French and now that of Hong Kong. Combining the strengths of these systems, with their different methodological and ontological foundations, provides a useful challenge. The advantages of the British system lie in student-based learning, in small group teaching and in openness to new technologies as part of teaching practice; the downside, in the difficulty of grasping issues of methodology and the occasionally excessive formalism with quality regimes. The advantage in the French system lies in a degree of formal rigour, the disadvantage being that of limited creativity. Students on dual degree schemes can experience the best of both systems and I hope to infuse this international perspective in students of HKBU.
Beyond my own teaching practice, I have consistently developed student exchange and inter-change. At Keele and Bradford, I oversaw ERASMUS students. While at Cardiff, I established the Cardiff-Bordeaux joint degree-diploma, one of the first of its kind in the UK (running since 2002). I have continued this activity in Lyon (and the proposed schemes with Hong Kong BU and Loughbourough). Rather than converge towards a unified set of teaching approaches and philosophies, the value of these schemes (and their Franco-German equivalents) is to train students to prosper in very different societal, political and economic contexts.
I value Language-based Area Studies, especially for doctoral students. While at Cardiff, I obtained recognition for the Language Based Area Studies as a pathway of the ESRC-funded Welsh Doctoral Training Centre, as well as contributing to the successful collective effort to obtain recognition for Politics and International Relations. LBAS signifies not only being taught or trained through the target language, but also encouraging ab initio language training as part of a professional project. Sciences Po Lyon (and the Sciences Po in general) excel in this dimension; the proposed Sciences Po Lyon/HKBU joint programme will incorporate this philosophy.
In terms of pedagogical practice, I am able in practical terms to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of two leading systems of higher education, hence to propose elements of best practice. From the UK practice, I would identify as a strength a mainstream approach based on competencies and learning outcomes, rather than restitution of learned facts; from French practice, the engagement of policy practitioners in class discussions and in situ project-based learning. Drawing on the best practices involves a preference for mixed methods teaching, involving: collaborative projects, role-play, group discussions, as well as the more classical lectures and seminars.
I have also been involved in extensive external examining, mainly in UK based institutions:
- 2015-2019. External Examiner. Aston University, UK
- 2015-2018. External Examiner. Bradford University, UK
- 2015-2018. External Advisor. Dual degree-diploma between Sciences Po, Lille, France and University of Kent, UK.
- 2011-2015. External Examiner, French and European Studies, University College, London, UK
- 2010-2013. External Examiner, French and Politics, Bristol University, UK
- 2009-2012. External Examiner, Msc (econ) in Public Administration, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
- 2007-2010. External Examiner, French and European Studies, University of Reading, UK
- 2007-2010. External Examiner, Politics, University of Aberystwyth, UK
- 2001-2005. External Examiner, Politics and European Studies, Aston University, UK
- 1999-2003. External Examiner, European Studies, Keele University, UK
- 1997- 2000. External Examiner, Politics Department, Leeds University, UK