Villa Salviati, EUI

CIVICA (post)doctoral summer schools: sharing work and fostering interdisciplinarity


Early stage researchers (ESRs) from across the social sciences and humanities will have a unique opportunity to meet peers, share research, and receive input from senior scholars: the 2021 CIVICA summer schools taking place in Italy this year.

From 12-16 July, CIVICA’s work package on doctoral opportunities will offer Pandemics and Power: Redefining solidarity after COVID-19, at Villa Vigoni, on Italy’s Lake Como. The alliance is also organising European integration in historical and contemporary perspective. New approaches and findings,on the EUI campus in Florence, from 6-9 September.

A space to share work and make connections

The organisers of the summer schools hope to facilitate the meeting of minds and the creation of long-lasting research networks among participants. Researchers will have the chance to present their own work, but also participate in seminars led by more senior academics.

Bocconi University Professor of Law Eleanor Spaventa, the organiser of the summer school at Villa Vigoni, says ‘We believe the dual format is perfect for stimulating discussion and ensuring close and meaningful debate. We hope that the close debate over these five days, which will be very much facilitated by the beautiful setting, will continue not only informally, through walks across the park and evening chats in the garden, but also over the long-term, resulting in the establishment of research networks outlasting the duration of the school.’  

Loïc Azoulai, Professor of Law at Sciences Po and a co-convenor of both summer schools also mentions the intellectual gratification that results from sharing ideas in a relaxed setting. He notes that ‘summer schools such as these create an atmosphere and set the conditions for informal, friendly mutual engagement […]. Researchers discover that their own thinking may have an impact and make sense to other researchers from different backgrounds and other disciplines.’

Fostering interdisciplinarity

Both of the summer schools deal with topical issues, and aim to include faculty and researchers from across the social sciences and humanities.

‘The pandemic has affected the way we think about many issues, from governance to equality, from the role of Europe in the world, to the balance between public health and private power,’ says Professor Spaventa. ‘The breadth of the theme ensures that researchers working in very different fields will be able to participate, fostering an interdisciplinary approach and the creation of synergies across the CIVICA partnership’.

For Azoulai, it is the nature of the summer school on European integration that demands interdisciplinarity. ‘Europe is trembling. Europeans have lost trust in the European integration project, and eye each other with a certain weariness, even mistrust’. […] ‘As we try to make sense of this moment in Europe, however, we must not tremble. Broad narratives are inconsistent, and recourse to a single discipline is no longer sufficient. We need careful methodological engagement, informed by history, social sciences, IR, law, and other disciplines. This is the whole point of this summer school.’

Advancing original research

An important component of both summer schools is the opportunity to present original work. Indeed, interested doctoral and postdoctoral students are required to submit a research paper proposal with their applications, and all participants attending the schools will be included on the programmes.

‘We want to support young researchers in shaping their ideas. The summer schools will include workshops where they will present their own work and receive feedback from peers and presenters, with an eye to eventual publication,’ explains Professor Spaventa.

There are no fees for early stage researchers from the CIVICA alliance to attend the summer schools. Travel and accommodation will be covered by the participants’ universities of origin according to CIVICA rules.

To attend the summer school on European integration, read more and submit your proposal by 28 March.

The deadline for the summer school on Pandemics and power is 15 April; read more about applying here.


Written by Jackie Gordon (EUI)

Main photo: Villa Salviati, credit: EUI 
Other photos courtesy of Eleanor Spaventa and Loïc Azoulai