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An international environment

Robert Blank leaves the USA to work abroad for 8-9 months every year. Even so, in some ways he feels that his Danish colleagues are more international than he is. For four months each year he is a visiting professor at Aarhus University.

Photo: Jesper Rais

Professor Robert Blank hails from the USA, but he has taught and researched almost all over the world. At the moment he divides his year up as follows: four months in New Zealand, four months in Aarhus, and summer and Christmas holidays at home in Florida with his wife.
“Actually my wife often comes with me. She was here for the first few weeks of this trip, and she’ll be coming back in December as well.”
At Aarhus University Robert Blank is a visiting professor at the Department of Political Science and Government, and this autumn trip is his fourth visit to Aarhus. He underlines that he likes having the opportunity to travel – even though it can be a little confusing sometimes.
“I went down to the centre of Aarhus the other day, but I couldn’t find the shop I was looking for. Then I suddenly realised that the shop was actually in London – or perhaps New Zealand! But I love seeing so many different places. The only thing I don’t like is that you have to do so much travelling to get there,” he says.
The fact that he has seen so many different universities also means that Robert Blank is well qualified to say something about what distinguishes the Danes and Danish universities from the rest of the world.
“There isn’t actually much cultural difference between Aarhus University and the other universities I know. For instance, everyone speaks and writes such excellent English that it’s never a problem to work together on research projects,” he says.
The Department of Political Science and Government has a much more international environment than many of the other departments at which Robert Blank has worked.
“There are far more international researchers and top names than you meet at an average American university. In terms of having an international environment, it’s probably only the 10-20 richest American universities that can compare with Aarhus. And I’ve never worked at a department which is engaged in so many fantastic projects at the same time. Aarhus is a very dynamic place, and my Danish colleagues actually go to more international conferences in the USA than I do,” smiles Robert Blank.