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#international: "Kind of a second home"

Rob Godby from Laramie, Wyoming, visited our Business School as guest lecturer in January 2018. The Professor for Economics has been coming for several years to teach in the MBA program. In the interview he gives reasons why he likes coming back every year, explains the balance between environment and economics and talks about the importance of international interaction.

Prof Godby, it’s your sixth time here in Pforzheim. What makes you always coming back to Pforzheim?
This might sound a little weird but Pforzheim has become kind of a second home. I have good friends here because I spent a year here on sabbatical and I see them every year since. So, I guess the reason I keep coming back is because I enjoy it and because I think the partnership between our universities is really important for both sides. I gain a lot from meeting students of Pforzheim and I think the students of Pforzheim gain something by meeting somebody from Wyoming because they have an opportunity to study there through our exchange.

How would you promote your home university in Wyoming to students who are planning to do an exchange semester?
Probably the saddest words that anybody will ever say at the end of their life is "I wish I would have". Don’t wish you would have done something, do something!
And if you’re interested in natural environments or energy, which is a huge part of the economy there, Wyoming is a great choice. The first national park in the world was designated in Wyoming – Yellowstone Park. Wyoming also has a lot of natural tourism with all its national parks and mountains where you can go skiing and those sorts of things. Wyoming is very rural, there are only 560.000 people in the entire state but only an hour away from Laramie is the edge of the Denver metropole, which is a very large city. So, we kind of have this opportunity to be both very rural and natural and then simultaneously engage in a very developed part of the economy. These are opportunities that are not as easily found at Pforzheim.

Since you’ve been coming to Pforzheim for a couple of years, what do you think is the best thing about our Business School?
Clearly, the faculty people are great here, I really enjoy meeting them. Talking to the colleagues is probably the thing that appeals to me most. And the students, I really enjoy meeting the students because you get a different perspective. Meeting a different culture, different student backgrounds and then just interacting with them in a different context. It’s really hard to quantify why international activity is so important, but to interact with people from other cultures, in other cultures and understand what’s important to people is really important. That’s probably another main reason that I also keep coming here. 

Your two recent books are not dealing with the economics in the US, as might be expected, but with European economics…
That was actually by accident. While I was here for my sabbatical in 2011/12 the European financial crisis kind of exploded. I was right in the middle of it so I watched it and documented it to use it as a case study for my students. And so that led to an increasing interest in the crisis and those notes I was putting together for teaching turned into a book.
The second book I wrote was with a colleague from Wyoming. I was here near Frankfurt, so I had a really good view of how the ECB was looking at things and the economic perspective, and because she was in Berlin she had a very good view of the political perspective. So, the second book was kind of a collaboration to look into how the politics and economics interact with one another.

With all the university work and writing books, is there still spare time for hobbies?
I try to spend as much time as possible with my partner Mary and my five dogs and I miss that while I’m here. If I’m at home and if I’m not working I’m walking the dogs or tinkering in the garage on one of my cars because that’s one of my passions too, I race cars a little bit. The last couple of years I haven’t had a lot of time for it but I have a couple of different sports cars, so I enjoy that. And I really like bike racing. I’m probably too old to bike race anymore but I still cycle pretty regularly. I used to cycle competitively when I was in graduate school and I used to coach the cycling team at the University of Wyoming – one of the team-members I coached became National Collegiate Champion. But all in all, do I have enough time? No. I wish I had more. 

The University of Wyoming (UW) in Laramie was founded in 1886 and has around 15.000 students. Since it not only offers traditional disciplines as humanities or arts but also applied sciences, it is a so-called land-grant institution which is kind of an equivalent to the German Hochschule. Several colleges such as Agriculture & Natural Resources, Business or Energy Resources belong to UW and offer many interesting programs. Laramie is located in a rural area, surrounded by national parks which are perfect to go hiking, skiing or mountain biking.