Professor Helen Drake

Professor of French and European Studies and Director of The Academy of Diplomacy and International Governance

Helen is an internationally-acclaimed Professor of contemporary French politics and EU affairs, and has chaired the UK’s leading University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES) since 2012.

Helen is the Director of the Academy of Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University London, and also holds a Chair in French and European Studies at Loughborough University.
 
Since 2016, Helen has undertaken a series of high-profile research projects surrounding the UK's departure from the European Union, referred to most commonly as 'Brexit'. 
Since 1st April 2017 (running to 30th September 2018), Helen has led on an ESRC-funded, Brexit-related project entitled '28+ Perspectives on Brexit: a guide to the multi-stakeholder negotiations'. For more information, please see below. 
 
Helen was also recently awarded an ESRC Dissemination grant for a project involving sixth form pupils attending schools in Loughborough and in London. The project, entitled 'Future-Proofing the UK electorate: simulating real world, post-Brexit decisions on EU freedom of movement in UK Schools', has already seen two very successful simulations since 2016 in Loughborough.
 
In addition to recent developments regarding Brexit, Helen is also actively engaged in research into contemporary French politics and EU affairs, with the study of France in its international context remaining central to Helen's research activity.  Helen is currently working solo on a monograph with Palgrave on France’s relationship with the European Union, as well as on a second edition of  her 2011 book Contemporary France, which is also with Palgrave. Together with a team of scholars in the UK, France and the USA, Helen is leading the publication of cutting-edge research into contemporary France following the election of President Macron. (Palgrave, Developments in French Politics 6).  
 
Helen's most recent teaching has been supported by an EU Commission-funded Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration.  Helen is passionate about the role of professional experts when teaching, and often invites leaders of industry and politics as well as international academic experts into her lectures and seminars, and uses debates, simulations and other exercises to ensure students can apply their learning to real-world, professional settings.  

Academic background

Helen first studied at Surrey University, where she completed her first degree in French and German Linguistic and International  Studies. Helen continued her passion for European studies by undertaking an MSc in European Management  at Cranfield Institute of Technology. Helen then completed her PhD in European Studies at Aston University.  Helen's multidisciplinary academic background has enabled her to utilise a multi-faceted approach towards teaching and research. 

In 2010, Helen was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government for her services to French culture and language and in 2017 received the University of Kent’s Innovation in Academia (Arts and Culture) prize.  In September 2013, Helen was awarded a Jean Monnet Chair in European integration by the European Commission, which she uses to support her teaching at Loughborough University and Loughborough University London. Alongside her role at Loughborough, Helen regularly offers lectures and teaching support to other students, most recently at Sciences Po Lyon, and ESSCA Management School Lyon, both in France. 

Current research and collaborations

Since 1st April 2017 (running to 30th September 2018), Helen has led a second ESRC-funded, Brexit-related project.  Entitled '28+ Perspectives on Brexit: a guide to the multi-stakeholder negotiations', the project involves spending time with UK stakeholders of all kinds to better convey how key member states from the remaining 27 (as well as Brussels itself), think and feel about the UK's departure from the European Union. As part of the project, Helen is working with Nicola Chelotti, Elena Georgiadou and Borja García García from Loughborough University, and Stijn van Kessel from London's Queen Mary University.  For more information, follow @28Brexits on Twitter, or visit their website. More information is also available here.
 
In addition, Helen is currently working with academic colleagues from Sciences Po Lyon and Sciences Po Bordeaux in France, and Princeton University in the USA, to publish a volume of cutting-edge research investigations into contemporary French politics and society. Helen has previously collaborated with different colleagues on varied research questions regarding France. Publications include her work with Saskia Huc-Hepher on the contemporary French population in London, and with Aidan McGarry on the security discourse still stigmatising the Roma population in France. 
 
Questions of EU governance and the history of European Studies in the UK also continue to drive Helen's research interests and in 2015 she launched a research project based on the transfer of 50 years’ worth of UACES archives to the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) at the European University Institute, in Florence. The project has now received two tranches of European Commission funding which is being used to support PhD students and early career researchers who wish to access the HEAU.

Current PhD / research supervisions

 
Helen has supervised various PhD students across a broad range of subject areas relating to the study of the EU, particularly in its international dimension. Recent examples include:
 
  • The political communication of mainstream European political parties
  • EU diplomatic actorness in its immediate neighbourhood in the East (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine);
  • The governance of European funds in new EU member states: The absorption performance of Bulgaria and Romania, and their management and implementation of European Structural Funds during 2007-2013;
  • The political and bureaucratic origins of the European External Action Service (EEAS);
  • A critical discourse analysis of the EU’s counter-terrorism policy;
  • The institutional response of the Czech state to EU membership;
  • The socialisation of Polish members of the European Parliament;
  • Johannes Althusius and the sui generis European Union and EU consumer policy;
  • A critical examination of consumers’ economic rights across borders.

Interests and activities

Helen currently chairs the UK’s leading University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES). In 2017, UACES is celebrating its 50th anniversary and is reflecting on how it can support its present and future members in understanding Europe and the EU at times of crisis, particularly with regards to Brexit.

To keep up to date with Helen's latest research and related activities, you can follow on her on Twitter at @FrancoBrit.

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