EUCACIS fellows strengthen research skills and networks in Berlin

The fellows of the PhD Support Programme EUCACIS (“The EU, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus in the International System”) recently met in Berlin for the second time to deepen their academic and professional skills. All twelve stipend holders participated in the PhD School from 19th to 23rd February 2018 where they presented their PhD theses and received detailed comments by EUCACIS team advisors and their peers. The fellows made significant progress and took into account recommendations from the previous PhD School and Research Training Stay, which took place in Berlin in July 2017. However, there are still many challenges in following a methodology and writing research and policy papers. Hence, lectures and exercises on these topics were among the most important foci.

Apart from a training on presentation skills, a lecture on academic English writing and individual consultations, the fellows learned about strategies for academic publishing from one of the experts in the field, Prof. Dr. Thomas Christiansen, Professor of European Institutional Politics at Maastricht University and executive editor of the Journal of European Integration. He focused on the peer review process and showed an editor’s perspective and workflow. Christiansen encouraged the fellows not to quit working on the article after receiving critical comments from a reviewer, but to consider them seriously and to revise the article.

Moreover, the EUCACIS fellows had the opportunity to gain insights into the development of EU-Central Asia relations from a diplomat’s perspective. Michael Siebert, Head of the Division for Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus at the German Federal Foreign Office, presented considerations for the review of the EU-CA Strategy, but was also interested in the opinions of the young scholars regarding the current state of affairs in their home countries and the future cooperation between the EU and Central Asia.

In order to train project management skills, a working group of fellows was created during the PhD School. The group will help to organise the third conference, which will take place in Georgia in the end of August 2018.

After the PhD School, half of the fellows moved from the unique location of Student Village Schlachtensee to Berlin Wilmersdorf to have their Research Training Stay. For three weeks, CIFE / IEP facilities were placed at the disposal of the fellows to enable them to advance their research. Furthermore, they became acquainted with Berlin libraries and met experts from the Federal Chancellery, the Center for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) and from Human Rights Watch.

It is clear that the four intensive weeks in Berlin benefited the EUCACIS fellows considerably as they received significant input relevant to their academic careers and had time to focus on their research in a suitable environment. However, it was not only the fellows who benefited from the stay. The discussions during Lunch Debates with CIFE and IEP staff on various international relations issues, different academic approaches and cultural features were enriching for all involved in the EUCACIS programme.

For more information on EUCACIS, visit the project website at