Patrik Gažo, a PhD student at the MU Faculty of Social Studies, is riding the wave of the hotly debated topic of ecological transition in the automotive industry. His paper, which he presented at the international conference GERPISA 2021, won the Young Author Prize. The prize comes with a monetary award and the opportunity of being published in a special issue of The International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management (IJATM).
The prize is awarded by GERPISA, an international network of researchers who study the automotive industry and its employees, and is aimed at students, PhD students and postdocs under 37 years old, who must present their papers at the conference. The winner is selected by an international panel that assess the author’s presentation skills, the quality of the results, the literature review and the level of interdisciplinarity.
Patrik Gažo’s winning paper and presentation were based on research that he worked on with Thomas Smith from the Department of Environmental Studies at the Faculty of Social Studies and Monika Martišková from Charles University. “Our research was part of a series of projects on a just transition in the automotive industry in terms of employment and on the opportunities for creating more eco-friendly modes of transport. Our objective was to identify, analyse and discuss the barriers for the transformation of the Slovak and Czech automotive industries into an ecological mobility industry, focusing on the various stakeholders,” says Gažo about the research that he distilled into the paper presented at the GERPISA conference.
Patrik Gažo’s research topics at the MU Faculty of Social Studies include the socio-economic transformation of industry employment, the just transition of production and automobility. “My primary focus is on the contradictions and relations between the interests of the working class and nature and the causal links between the interests of this group of people and the effort of organisations to deal with the ecological and climate crisis,” he says.
He further explains: “Just transition means transforming industrial production so that it is socially just and ecologically sustainable. I particularly study the opportunities and roles of production employees as the automotive industry transitions to electric mobility.” The young PhD student likes to ride a mountain bike in his free time: “I used to be a semi-professional dirt jump and slopestyle rider; in these styles, you jump across obstacles and do various tricks while in the air. Now, I prefer downhill biking, enduro and freeriding in the forest as it helps me clear my mind from my study and work duties.” He would like to complete his PhD within the next two years and continue as a full-time researcher in an industry that is key to resolving the climate crisis.
In the meantime, he will participate in a new project granted to his department by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic, which will investigate the just transformation of the Czech power industry and the future of employment in a low-carbon economy. As he admits, “I find my research topics fascinating, even outside work, which is a huge advantage that helps me move forward.”