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The creation of a discipline

2020 marked 50 years since the creation of the ECPR. During 1969 and 1970, Jean Blondel and Stein Rokkan, working with Peter de Janosi of the Ford Foundation and other prominent European scholars, shaped the concept of a ‘European Consortium for the Promotion of Political Science’. The objectives of the organisation and its founders were ambitious yet straightforward: ‘to break down the barriers between the national traditions of the discipline and create a truly international community of scholars within Europe…’

With vital funding from the Ford Foundation and the support of eight founding universities, the ECPR was born and quickly got to work, supporting summer schools, establishing the Joint Sessions of Workshops and the EJPR journal within its first three years.

Fifty years on it can not only be said that the international community they wished to create exists, but that it continues to thrive because of the ECPR. A number of special events and activities had taken place throughout 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary:

Letter to Jean

Jean Blondel, Serge Hurtig and Stein Rokkan send a letter to 12 European colleagues suggesting the creation of an informal network of institutions with the aim of improving cross-national collaboration.

A meeting to discuss the idea takes place in Paris – in attendance were Uwe Kitzinger, Anna Oppo, Gerhard Lehmbruch, Arendt Lijphart (Hans Daalder, Jorgen Westerstahl, and Rudolf Wildemann were invited but could not attend).

August – de Janosi offers financial backing from the Ford Foundation and encourages Blondel to resume contact with Rokkan to shape the formal proposal.


Serge Hurtig, Norman Chester, Hans Daalder, Richard Rose, Jorgen Westerstahl, Rudolf Wildenmann, Jean Blondel and Stein Rokkan meet Peter de Janosi at the Ford Foundation in New York over the 27 & 28 April to refine the bid for the grant to establish the Consortium.

Final proposal is submitted to the Ford Foundation in May.

A grant of $272,500 from the is awarded on 29 July 1970. The ECPR’s founding member institutions are Sciences Po, Nuffield College, Universities of Bergen, Leiden, Essex, Strathclyde, Gothenburg and Mannheim.

First Executive Committee meeting takes place in Munich on 30 August – Jean Blondel and Stein Rokkan confirmed as Executive Director and Chair of the Executive Committee respectively and the decision taken to locate the ECPR's offices at the home institution of the ED, the University of Essex.

First newsletter published 20 October 1970.

Number of members: 8

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ECPR formerly supports the Essex Summer School (established by Budge) which had already taken place in 1968 and 1969, enabling participation for members.

Number of members: 19

Directory of political scientists

ECPR publishes first Directory of European political scientists – listing, name, address, institutional affiliations, research interests and importantly listed alphabetically, and not by country in order to show a single, unified European profession. C. 1,400 entries to begin with – member and non-member. First key step in providing a framework for networking.

Publishes Directory of Graduate Courses in Political Science in Western Europe with the aim to encourage training across national boundaries.

Data Information Service established at Bergen under Rokkan with the aim to put together standardised data sets from national data centres across Europe – firstly encouraging developing creation of data banks at national level to build upon.

Number of members: 34

EJPR first issue cover

European Journal of Political Research (EJPR) launched with the aim of providing a forum to unify profession and encourage cross-national dialogue, first published with Elsevier.

Ten parallel workshops organised in Mannheim in 1973 with 178 participants as an alternative to a series of one-off workshops throughout the year at different locations. Event is a success and a second is organised for Strasbourg the following year – the Joint Sessions of Workshops are born.

First Council meeting takes place at Mannheim JS; voting in first elected EC and adopting the constitution.

Number of members: 48

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Bulletin mailing list reaches 1,000

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Number of members: 50

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First Standing Group is created: Urban Politics.

Number of members: 71

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Sage Modern Politics book series established

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First Research Sessions take place in Mannheim.

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First EU Summer School on Comparative Politics takes place.

Number of members: 100

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Stein Rokkan prize first awarded.

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Fourth edition of Directory of European Political Scientists is published, containing full biographical details for over 3,000 academics working across Europe as an aid to networking the profession.

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Standing Group on Women and Politics (subsequently Gender and Politics) is founded.

SGIR directory cover

Last three founding fathers retire from EC – Blondel, Wildenmann and Daalder.

Standing Group on International Relations is founded.

Constitution is amended to create Associate Memberships for non-European institutions – first non-European member is Johns Hopkins.

Full membership is opened up to Central and East European institutions.

ECPR News bulletin replaces the Newsletter.

Oxford Book Series

First Central European member joins: University of Ljubljana.

Comparative Politics book series is launched with Oxford University Press.

Number of members: 150

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The ECPR sends its first email and accounts are computerised.

Political Data Yearbook (PDY) is added as a double issue at the end of each volume to the EJPR.

Pub retreat

Sage Modern Politics series is replaced by Routledge series Studies in European Political Science.

EJIR issue1 cover

ECPR News bulletin starts to develop into a journal.

European Journal of International Relations (EJIR) launched by the Standing Group on IR.

First incarnation of the website goes live.

Number of members: 200, including 31 Associate Members.

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Wildenmann Prize first awarded

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ECPR buys out EJPR from Kluwer and moves it to Blackwell (now Wiley), setting the precedent for ownership of all publications.

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First General Conference held at University of Kent at Canterbury in association with the SGIR Conference (600 participants).

ECPR News transforms into professional journal European Political Science (EPS).

Role of Executive Director split between Academic and Administrative Directors as the number of staff grows.

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Graduate Network established

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First Jean Blondel PhD Prize awarded

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25 Standing Groups.

ECPR Press launches with six titles (three Classics and three Monographs), run in-house from the office.

EPS moves to Palgrave Macmillan and first issue published under new partnership agreement.

Number of members: 300

Number of staff: 5

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First Summer School in Methods and Techniques takes place, held at University of Ljubljana.

First Graduate Student Conference take place, held at University of Essex.

Full Membership is opened up to all institutions, regardless of geographic location.

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Mattei Dogan Foundation Prize created with the Foundation and first awarded

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First Capital Lecture take place in Madrid.

8,000 subscribers to email alerts.

ESPR issue 1 cover

European Political Science Review (EPSR) launched with CUP.

Annual turnover exceeds £1m

The ECPR offices move out of the Government Dept at Essex because it has grown too large. Staff move to John Tabor building across campus and Essex continues to support through subsidised rent and provision of some support services.

Electoral and Constitutional reform is required as too few nominations are received for EC 2009–2012 cohort, necessitating several co-options. Extraordinary meetings of Council called and new electoral rules and electronic system for elections established.

Number of staff: 10

EPS Ruby Issue Cover

My ECPR database launched allowing users to subscribe online for email alerts and manage their interactions with the organisation. Staff can now see levels of engagement across countries, members, gender, etc.

ECPR joins Twitter and Facebook.

40th anniversary celebrated with commemorative book and special issue of EPS looking at 40 years of political science in Europe.

Bardi Speech Reykjavik

General Conference in Reykjavik attracts 2,500 participants – this is both the largest event ever held in Reykjavik and confirms the GC as the largest annual meeting of political scientists in Europe.

Online event registration and payment system using My ECPR goes live for the Summer School and General Conference.

Administrative and Academic Director roles merged into one Director role (a seconded academic post) with responsibility for staff and EC liaison. Management Group created to support the Director.

Antwerp participants

First Winter School in Methods and Techniques takes place, held at University of Vienna.

New online electoral system successfully goes live for the 2012 EC elections.

First American elected to the EC – Dick Katz.

Simona Piattoni elected first female Chair of the EC.

Mainz plenary

Speaker of Council position created.

Online registration system using My ECPR goes live for the Joint Sessions.

ECPR Publications retreat

The ECPR buys its own property, Harbour House, as its offices can no longer be housed at the Essex University campus. The ECPR's operations and management are now separated from the University of Essex.

First Framework for Standing Groups and Research Networks is published which provides for the creation of Research Networks and clarifies the legal status of SGs as part of ECPR for the first time.

ECPR Publications retreat

General Conference in Montreal – first ECPR event to take place outside of Europe.

All staff move into Harbour House. First Publications Retreat takes place and HH is opened up to members and Standing Groups for use.

Number of members: 350

Bamberg 2016

ECPR transfers to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with a revised Constitution and governance requirements.

Nottingham workshop

ECPR Press moves to Rowman & Littlefield International under a new partnership agreement.

First Gender Study is published looking at the participation and representation of women across all ECPR events, activities and governance – EC agree to conduct this every year.

The number of Standing Groups and Research Networks operating under the auspices of the ECPR reaches 50.

ECPR has 10,000 followers on Twitter; over 20,000 subscribers to email lists; and over 30,000 user accounts in the My ECPR database

Nicosia coffee break

Gender Equality Plan is published which includes new electoral rules to facilitate gender parity on the Executive Committee.

Code of Conduct published.

First Standing Groups and Research Networks Retreat takes place at Harbour House.

Political Research Exchange (PRX) launched with Taylor & Francis – fully Gold Open Access journal.

Budapest Summer School

Revised Framework for Standing Groups and Research Networks is published.

First World of Political Science Study is carried out, in partnership with IPSA.

ECPR has 15,000 followers on Twitter.

First full time, non-academic Director appointed.

A special event is held at Harbour House to mark the 90th birthday of ECPR founder Jean Blondel, and celebrate his career.

Number of staff: 20

Annual turnover reaches c. £2m

ECPR 50th Anniversary

ECPR celebrates 50th anniversary.

ECPR Blog launched.