Sinds september 2017 ben ik doctoraatsstudent, of ‘Phd Researcher’, in het Department of History and Civilization van het European University Institute (EUI) in Firenze. Na studies in België (BA en MA in Geschiedenis) en Duitsland (MA in Curatorial Studies) besloot ik om mijn universitaire carrière verder te zetten met een doctoraat in Geschiedenis.
Since September 2017 I’ve been enrolled as PhD student, or ‘PhD Researcher’, at the Department of History and Civilization of the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. After my studies in Belgium (BA and MA in History) and Germany (MA in Curatorial Studies), I decided to continue my university career with a PhD in History. A few years earlier I had participated in the “Summer School in Comparative and Transnational History”, so I was already aware of the unique programme offered by the EUI. They have a highly competitive application process, there’s only a very limited number of FWO grants for the EUI. Not surprisingly, my first application was unsuccessful. However, I was determined to get admitted to the PhD programme, and my second attempt proved more successful.
In my thesis, I investigate the participation of the European Union in the world exhibitions organised from 1958 to today. The fact that the archives of the European Union are located at the EUI campus comes in very handy for my research project, although there are also funds to visit archives abroad. Furthermore, the institute has an excellent specialist library. Although relatively small with only four departments – History and Civilization, Political and Social Sciences, Law and Economics – the EUI is a very international community, with researchers from all over Europe and beyond.
One of the major advantages of a PhD at the EUI is that you work in a research community. In the first two years, you participate in seminars. This way, you not only work on your own research project, but you also learn how to place your own research interests in the broader professional literature. The remainder of the programme is just as structured: each year, students have to write a portion of their thesis and receive feedback from their supervisor.
The EUI strongly supports self-initiative. PhD students have the opportunity to organise events themselves, for example, in the form of ‘Working Groups’ which are led by PhD students (I myself, together with colleagues, set up the ‘Working Groups on Visual and Material History). Another way for me to make myself heard is through my work as representative of the PhD students.
In January 2020 I’ll be eagerly making use of yet another advantage offered by pursuing a PhD at the EUI: the attractive exchange programme. I’ll be spending four months at the New York University as an exchange student at the Graduate School for Arts & Science.