EUCACIS Conference and PhD School July 2017

In the course of the PhD Support Programme EUCACIS, an inter­na­tional confe­rence and PhD School took place from 3rd to 8th July 2017. The goal of both events was to provide the selected PhD fellows from Central Asia and the South Caucasus with the oppor­tunity to present their PhD projects, deepen their under­standing of current challenges and develo­p­ments in the respective regions and to widen their networks. The EUCACIS programme is organized by CIFE and the Institute for European Politics (IEP) and funded by the Volks­wagen Foundation and Erasmus+.

During the 2‑day-long confe­rence, the focus was on geopo­li­tical change in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus and the future role of Europe in that region. H.E. Ambassador Peter Burian, EU Special Repre­sen­tative for Central Asia, offered an intri­guing glance into the EU’s strategy for Central Asia, which he assessed as a „magnitude of challenge“. In parti­cular, he empha­sized the EU’s effort to support Central Asian states in enhancing adminis­trative capacity and building up domestic economies which currently suffer from low oil prices, shrinking remit­tances and a lack of reforms. Moreover, the EUCACIS fellows were able to witness panel debates between scien­tists and practi­tioners from the respective regions and discuss their PhD posters with the confe­rence visitors during lunch breaks.

During the four days of the PhD School, the EUCACIS fellows received thematic and metho­do­lo­gical input from selected experts and had the chance to present their PhD projects to EUCACIS staff as well as to get individual feedback. In addition to lectures on „Inter­na­tional Relations Theory“, „Democracy Theory“ and „Compa­rative Regio­nalism“, the focus was on the design and publi­cation of a policy paper which the fellows have to write in the course of the EUCACIS programme. For half of the fellows, the PhD School is followed by a 3‑week research training stay during which they can make use of CIFE / IEP facilities and resources to conduct their research. The experience of spending 4 weeks in Berlin and closely inter­acting with resear­chers from different countries will certainly not only enhance the academic compe­tences of the EUCACIS fellows, but also contribute to a better inter­cul­tural understanding.