CIVICA PhD researchers share their work and grow networks at interdisciplinary summer school on EU integration

The European University Institute hosted the event in Florence with over 30 researchers and faculty from across the EU university alliance.

“A great way to network across Europe.” That’s how Rónán Riordan, a second-year PhD researcher at the Hertie School, summed up the first doctoral summer school of the eight-member CIVICA alliance of European social science universities. The theme was “European integration in historical and contemporary perspective. New approaches and findings”.

Fourteen doctoral researchers, all working on European integration, along with nineteen faculty members from across CIVICA, convened online and in-person in September at the European University Institute (EUI) campus in Florence, Italy. Participants in the four-day event came from the EUI, the Hertie School, Bocconi University, Central European University, London School of Economics (LSE), Sciences Po, and the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA).

Each had the opportunity to present a paper to the multi-disciplinary audience of historians, political scientists, sociologists, and legal scholars.

Léonard Colomba-Petteng, a PhD researcher at Sciences Po, said he especially appreciated the chance to learn what people are working on in related disciplines. “We are all talking about European integration, but studying and researching it with different methods, from different disciplines and countries,” he said. “This interaction made the summer school really interesting for me.”

For Maria Uttenthal, a first-year PhD researcher at the Hertie School, it was the first opportunity to present her research at an international conference, which she said elicited “very useful feedback” on her project.

Marta Alorda Carreras, who is in the final stages of her thesis at the EUI, also said this was a key benefit of attending the event: “The enriching feedback from established academics from different backgrounds has been most valuable for my work.”

Sessions on developing professional skills were also part of the programme. Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of Finland and present Director of the EUI’s School of Transnational Governance, spoke extensively and openly about his experiences within European institutions. Stubb was a Member of the European Parliament and had a seat on the European Council; he was also Vice President of the European Investment Bank.

Professors Mark Dawson (Hertie School) and Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă (SNSPA) led a session on turning a dissertation into a book, while Professors Ettore Recchi (Sciences Po) and Kalypso Nicolaidis (EUI) together led a session on the ‘state of the art’ in their respective fields of sociology and political science.

During that discussion, senior academics shared from their own thesis-writing and research experiences. They reflected on what it means to be interdisciplinary and on researching European integration, which they described as “rich, provocative and useful.”

Corinna Unger, a Professor of History at the EUI who helps develop offers for early-stage researchers across CIVICA, said the summer school was an opportunity to make use of the CIVICA network, develop the alliance’s intellectual resources and stimulate collaboration across institutional, national and linguistic barriers.

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