At the start of fall quarter, the Department of Economics in the School of Social Sciences appointed Stergios Skaperdas, an economics professor, to a five-year term as the Clifford S. Heinz Chair. Established in 1988 by the UC Regents, the honor recognizes an outstanding UC Irvine scholar who studies the economics of peace.
Prior to this appointment, the Heinz Chair was held by Martin McGuire, now emeritus professor of economics. In accordance to Skaperdas’ appointment, Skaperdas is a theorist who specializes in political economics and expects to continue in the field of research for the rest of his career.
“I was appreciative of the fact that the department and the school and the Global Peace and Conflict Studies facilitated my work over all these years,” Skaperdas said.
Skaperdas, born in Greece, moved to Oregon at the age of 18 and continued his education at Reed College, which specializes in liberal arts and science. His post-doctorate years were fulfilled at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he narrowed his area of study to political economics and included game theory, the study of mathematical models.
For the past 25 years, his research has been examining the study of economic and political problems, including those of organized crime, the emergence of states and governance, as well as civil wars and other forms of domestic conflict.
Over the course of his life, he has published groundbreaking work on the implications for trade, the role of the state, the issues of the destruction of civil war in affected countries and the efforts to rebuild a country in the aftermath of war and other topics in more than 40 journal articles and books.
On one recent occasion, Skaperdas introduced his home country Greece’s debt crisis — a paper he wrote that was included in various publications such as the New York Times and Cable News Network — and integrated him into the community as a proponent of eliminating the Eurozone. He also mentions in his work the unprecedented levels in the reduction of unemployment rates since the Great Depression.
Skaperdas believes he took the right stance on the situation.
“I disagreed with the policies that were followed. That is why I tried to prevent those policies. Their policies of not doing an effective default and getting out of the Euro zone and helping Greece get its own currency,” he says.
At UC Irvine, Skaperdas currently serves in the Executive Boards of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Global Peace and Conflict Studies Center and former interim director for the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences.
For the past 15 years, Skaperdas has been Research Fellow of the CESifo Research Network in Munich, Germany. In the recent decade, he has been Research Fellow for the study of Civil Wars at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Norway.
He currently teaches political economics to graduate students. For undergraduates, he teaches a class called Global Economy. The freshman type level class is available for International Studies and economics majors. Skaperdas does not plan to make changes to the curriculum for the year. “It has some political economy, [with] a view of the global economy as a whole,” he says.
Skaperdas advises students to apply the concepts within social aspects to benefit the most from the learning experience.
“Try to enjoy the ideas in the classes. Not just to concentrate what will be on the exam, but also to appreciate the ideas and how they help them understand how the world works.”