Department of History

Justin Classen

  • Graduate Student

Prior to coming to Pitt in the autumn of 2010, I earned an MA in Romanian Studies from Indiana University – Bloomington (2010). I was earlier awarded with an MA in History from the University of Vermont (2007) and a BA in History and Political Science from Williams College (2003). During and between these degrees I have worked many other jobs, ranging from restaurateur through bouncer to carpenter.

At Pitt I have been active in the Graduate Organization for the Study of Europe and Central Asia (GOSECA) and, until Fall 2013, organized the Romanian Language Table for the Center for Russian and East European Studies.

I spend my free time with my wife, daughter, and Maker’s Mark. For fun – insofar as graduate study and a small child leaves time and energy for such a thing – I run, cook, play strategy and FPS video games, obsessively follow professional football and basketball, and watch movies featuring at least one (though preferably all) of the following: fistfights, gunfights, CGI, spaceships, or explosions.


Regional Field: Europe (Late Modern)
Thematic Field: World History

Teaching Experience

H0200 East European Civilization (Instructor), Summer 2013
H0700 World History (T.A. for Diego Holstein) Spring 2013
H0302 Soviet History (T.A. for William Chase) Fall 2012
H0756 Islamic Civilization (T.A. for Pinar Emiralioglu) Spring 2012
H0200 East European Civilization (T.A. for Irina Livezeanu) Fall 2011
H0700 World History (T.A. for Patrick Manning) Spring 2011
H0300 Russia to 1860 (T.A. for Scott Smith) Fall 2010
H095 Europe from 1945 (Grader) Fall 2006
H036 History of India from 1750 (Grader) Spring 2006

Research Interests

PhD Research Topic

Provisional Title: “The Rational International: Scientific Management and National Development in Greater Romania, 1918-1940”

Advisor: Irina Livezeanu

My dissertation focuses on Romanian participation in the international Scientific Management movement during the interwar period (1918-1940). One of a bundle of American concepts about economic and social organization that found traction in Europe after the First World War, Scientific Management offered a theoretically “rational” model for ordering labor relations, production processes, and resource allocation. As the movement spread through and beyond the United States, it became progressively more utopian in its goals and techniques; the “efficiency craze” of the early 20th century gave rise to similar approaches to governance, education, the household, and national and international political economy. In Romania, Scientific Management found expression through the concept of rationalization (raţionalizare): a doctrine legitimating cartelization, economic planning, étatisme, and technocracy.

The champions of raţionalizare were industrialists, engineers, and psychologists, privileged and influential elites that historians of interwar Romania have never seriously studied. This project examines how these elites formulated raţionalizare, how those formulae changed in response to local circumstances and over time, and how and where they were put into practice. It outlines an intellectual history of raţionalizare in interwar Romania, paying particular attention to how Romanian elites utilized diverse foreign examples to justify specific business practices and state policies. In the process, it draws attention to the political and cultural influence of modern, globalized industry in a society scholars view as paradigmatically “backward.”