I was actually only at CREES for one year, academic year 1971-72, when I was a temporary lecturer in economics while someone was away on sabbatical in the US. During my year, I took advantage of the brilliant Russian for Social Scientists course at CREES, then run by Dave Adshead. It was a great way to learn Russian if you wanted to read about five year plans and success indicators (which I did), not so great if you wanted to chat about everyday things - so later, when I came up to Scotland, I did another Russian course in an evening class to learn a bit more.
What really struck me about CREES back then was the sheer effort that went into a lot of the research that was being done, the care and attention to detail essential for good research, and the ability to combine all this hard (and not very fashionable) work with a very social and cooperative working environment. In short, CREES was always tremendous fun!
Since moving north (to Stirling and then Heriot-Watt Universities), I've mostly worked on central and eastern europe - both under central planning, and later, on transition topics - and that has kept me in touch with many people from CREES, including, at times, with joint projects. On a few occasions, I've also examined PhDs for CREES.
As for what I'm doing now, well, I'm officially retired from Heriot-Watt University, but I still have an office there as I still do a tiny amount of teaching and contribute to some of the departmental research. I've also not learned yet how to say 'no', so this year has been my busiest for some years, with fascinating consultancy work on Kuwait, Tajikistan, the Falkland Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands (though not many people actually believe I do any work out there); plus research on North Korea and the UK's Private Finance Initiative, as well as editing a handbook on transition that includes some notable contributions from CREES. Retirement is evidently good for the productivity!
Last, let me just mention two books.
- Paul Hare, Vodka and Pickled Cabbage: Eastern European Travels of a Professional Economist, Athena Press, 2010 (reissued 2012) (this is also available on my website, link below, and can be downloaded for free; several thousand people have taken advantage of this)
- Paul Hare and Gerard Turley (eds), Handbook of the Economics and Political Economy of Transition, Routledge, 2013 (this has some CREES contributions, as noted above; a flyer for this book is also attached here)