The two-week “EXACT Network Seminar on Academic Research Skills and Higher Education Qualifications” took place in the framework of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network EXACT from 15th and 28th September 2012 in Cologne. It was organized by the Jean-Monnet-Chair, Prof. Wessels, Department of Political Science. Participants included the thirteen EXACT Research Fellows and eight external guest researchers. The content of the Network Seminar aimed at improving academic, teaching and research skills as well as publishing and funding options and strategies. In a nutshell it can be said, that the academically outstanding program combined with the expertise of the guest speakers reflected the spirit of the EXACT Network as a silver thread throughout the whole Seminar.
The participants were generally pleased with the programme of the summer school as it included both interactive and expert-centered elements. In preparation of the course, all participants had to deliver one written assignment before the start of the course. Participants chose to present either one PhD chapter, a publication, an academic or policy paper. The expertise of the guest speakers generally matched the topics of the participants and thus presented great value added as these could get first-hand information and precious advice for their research projects and PhD. Participants highly appreciated the in depth input they received from the organizers on their respective PhD topics. The expertise of the guest speakers and the opportunities of the EXACT Network combined allowed even to go beyond academic expectations. EXACT and non-EXACT fellows could build synergies and transpose principles from one project to another. Publishing options were discussed with some of the expert speakers as well.
A Public Roundtable Discussion on “EU Executive Powers and External Action” was only one of the highlights. Main discussants were Gianni Bonvicini, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome; Geoffrey Edwards, University of Cambridge; Marlene Gottwald, EXACT Early Stage Researcher- University of Edinburgh and University of Cologne; Robert Kissack, Institut Barcelona d` Estudis Internacionals; Nicole Koenig, EXACT Early Stage Researcher of University of Edinburgh and University of Cologe; John Peterson of University of Edinburgh and Wolfgang Wessels, University of Cologne. The main topics discussed were the role of the EU in the Libya crisis and EU crisis management as such, the Treaty of Lisbon`s institutional architecture and coherence in EU external action as well as the reform of the European Security Strategy and the setting-up of the European External Action Service.
The overall impression of the “EXACT Network Seminar on Academic Skills” was extremely positive. The participants significantly enhanced their PhD skills and also got more familiar with the formulation of research questions, different research methods and teaching skills. The two directors of the Seminar, Dr. Geoffrey Edwards (EXACT Visiting Scientist, University of Cambridge) and Dr. Robert Kissack (EXACT Visiting Scientist, Institut Barcelona d` Estudis Internacionals) managed very well to meet the expectations of researchers in the field of EU External Action.