Zoltán Kovács#

Laudatio by György Enyedi#

Professor Kovács has made significant contributions to the development of human geography, as well as to the integration of Hungarian and East European human geography with the European mainstream of the discipline.

He graduated from the University of Debrecen in Geography in 1984. His first academic position was as assistant research fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He is currently scientific advisor at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Institute of Geography, Budapest), and at the same time full professor and head of Department of Economic and Social Geography at the University of Szeged. He completed his PhD (1994), habilitation (2000) and Doctor of Science (highest scientific degree of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)(2003) degrees in Hungary.

His scientific interest is focused on urban geography and political geography with special attention to the post-socialist countries. He has written extensively on these issues, his list of publication contains some 250 items, including scientific articles, books, book-chapters and edited volumes many of them written in English, German and other languages. He summarized the main characteristics of the transition of urban social space in East Central Europe in a model, which is frequently cited in the literature. He was editor in chief of the leading Hungarian geographical periodical Földrajzi Közlemények (Geographical Review), and guest edited a special issue of Geojournal on post-socialist urban transition in Eastern and Central Europe. He is member of the editorial/advisory boards of such renowned international journals like Journal of Housing and Built Environment, Europa Regional, and Architecture, Civil Engineering and Environment.

Professor Kovács has established extensive international relations in human geography in Europe and beyond over the last quarter of century. He spent one year at the University of Oxford (1988/89) and the University of Technology, Munich (1994/95) as a guest researcher. Later he was guest professor for a full term at the University of Leipzig (1999, 2004), and the University of Bergen (2001). In addition, he established close research and teaching co-operations with geography departments all around in Europe, including Queens University (Belfast), Salford University (Manchester), University of Hull, University of Portsmouth, University of Groningen, University of Trondheim, University of Trier, University of Potsdam, University of Bratislava.

Professor Kovács has been playing leading role in the national and international scientific community. In the Hungarian geographical context he was secretary general and currently he is vice-president of the Hungarian Geographical Society. He is chairman of the Scientific Committee of Human Geography at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He is member of the Board of EUGEO (Association of European Geographical Societies), the European Network for Housing Research (ENHR) and the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP). In addition to IGU and EUGEO conferences he regularly attends the conferences of these organizations. He is excellent organizer and able to achieve cooperation at the European level. In October 1996 he organised the first international conference on post-socialist urban transformation in Budapest (“Problems and Perspectives of Urban Development in East Central Europe"). He was member of the Organising Committee of the 2nd EUGEO Conference in Bratislava 2009.

He has participated in several international research projects funded by the European Union. Among them the project on "The Social and Economic Consequences of Privatisation in Central and Eastern Europe” funded by the EU COPERNICUS Programme between 1994 and 1997. ln the early 2000s he participated in two projects in the 5th Framework Programme: "Evaluating Housing and Neighbourhood Initiatives to Improve the Quality of LW in Deprived Urban Neighbourhoods and Assessing the Transferability Across Europe" (NEHOM) and "Development of Urban Green Spaces to Improve the Quality of Life in Cities and Urban Regions" (URGE).

Currently he contributes to the ACRE project ("Accommodating Creative Knowledge: Competitiveness of European Metropolitan Regions within the Enlarged Union") in the 6th Framework Programme. These are clearly interdisciplinary and practice oriented projects which reflect Professor Kovács’s strong commitment to work in close relationship with academics of other disciplines at a European level.

As co-chairman of the National Liaison Committee he has actively contributed to the UNESCO MOST (Management of Social Transformation) Programme. He was also frequently involved in bilateral research projects funded by German, Dutch and French research foundations. He supervised many PhD dissertations in Hungary and co-supervised four dissertations defended at the Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University. His current research activities are in the field of understanding the conditions behind the development of creative knowledge cities, and in the field of spatial segregation and social exclusion in post-socialist cities.

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