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Pizzas, smurfs and politics – introducing the lecturer with the best sense of humor of the semester, dr József Dúró

2024-03-25 16:13:00

In high school, he specialised in mathematics and physics and wanted to become a veterinarian. Today, he is a renowned researcher in the field of Political Science, the author of several academic volumes and one of the students' favourites as the lecturer with the best sense of humour of the semester. We talked to Dr. József Dúró.

Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem

After high school, he ended up going in a completely new direction and enrolled in Economics at Corvinus, which at the time was a five-year, single-cycle programme. After two years it was possible to choose a faculty, at the end of the third year, a specialisation: his major was political analysis, his minor economic policy and management. 

“Why is it worth studying astronomy? Well, obviously because people are interested in the stars. The same is true of politics, I studied it because I am interested. If one is interested in the world of politics, after a while one will start to wonder why this is so.” 

– he said of his motivations. 

He started teaching during his PhD programme (also at Corvinus), where, he says, he quickly took a liking to the activity, despite never having thought of becoming a lecturer before. 

“If someone doesn’t like to teach, they won’t be a good lecturer; but I don’t think there is one ideal type of perfect teacher”, he said. He had been nominated several times in the Lecturer of the Semester elections, but this was the first time he has won an award, which surprised him and he was of course very happy. 

His students will remember this, but for those who didn’t have the chance to attend his classes, his teaching style is well illustrated by one of his favourite case studies, which he often presents at the University Open Days, among other events: 

“The Smurfs are an idealised communist society. Papa Smurf with his long grey beard is pure Marx; the Jacobean red cap also confirms this. But I could also mention the closed economic system without money, the planned economy (everyone knows what to do) or living in a commune without marriage. We can observe the cult of physical force – Handy, Hefty; the repression of intellectuals – Brainy; the punishment of vagrants – Lazy, and Jokey would also belong here, but I think he is not disciplined so much because he participated in the underground dwarf communist movement as an anarchist, and only after the victory of the revolution did he become a bad comrade. Let me ask you, can I take my jacket off?” 

he concluded the story with another of his trademark phrases.  

“I’m always asked to tell a joke, but I can’t, it just comes. I usually don’t even remember my jokes.” 

he says. He doesn’t use humour intentionally, but he often employs it when he remembers a funny story or when attention wavers in his class. 

“When we didn’t have the world in the palm of our hand on a phone, people had access to fewer things, but what they did have access to, they liked to dig deep into.” 

he told us about his 14 years of experience in education. One might ask whether it is monotonous to present the same material year after year: According to József Dúró, no, because on the one hand there are two new study programmes (the Philosophy, Politics, Economics bachelor programme, which we wrote about here , and the master programme in Political Economy) and their new subjects, which present him with a lot of challenges, and on the other hand he has to keep up with the literature and update the curriculum accordingly. 

He wrote his thesis on Euroscepticism, which has accompanied him through many academic works: His TDK (Students’ Scientific Association) paper, his doctoral dissertation and his first book were all on this topic. As well as teaching, lecturers are researching and publishing on an ongoing basis, with each paper taking at least a year from writing to publication. Research findings are also presented at conferences, where they can receive valuable feedback before they are published in a journal, and these events also offer networking opportunities. József Dúró is currently engaged in (sometimes co-authored) research on the state of the Hungarian party system, the comparison of the Romanian and Hungarian radical right, voter behaviour, and the relationship between Fidesz and the European Union. 

“I often come to the university, even though there is a possibility of home office. I start cleaning windows at home before I do my research, and there are colleagues at the university to socialise with.” 

he highlights that the experiences of lecturers and students are often similar. 

“I never wanted to be famous”, he said when asked if he was happy to have made his mark in the field of science through his book. He added that although he has been invited for interviews on several occasions, he also explicitly avoids the media. 

“I don’t usually think about what if. I love where I am now” 

he summarised. 

He is still interested in physics and mathematics. 

“Maths gives you a vision, with such a background one can approach social science problems in a different way” 

he said. His other hobby is Italy, the Italian language and culture he strongly recommends learning the language to everyone. “On the one hand, the Italian language teachers here at the university are very nice, and on the other hand, it is not widely spoken in this country, but it is in demand on the market”, he explained. He also shares his knowledge of Italian culture on an Instagram page, which can be found under his profile Beyond Pizza . 

“My advice to students would be to be open to everything, take advantage of the opportunities and enjoy the university years because they are the best.” 

Written by: Eszter Dobos 

Photo: József Dúró 

Source: KGO

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GEN.:2024.07.18. - 21:25:20