Faculty Voices
01 March 2018

Building an Academic Career in Geneva

By Stephanie Hofmann, Professor of International Relations/Political Science



Our professors share their thoughts and opinions on their own experience of teaching at the Institute.

You started working at the Institute in 2009, rising through the positions before being nominated as Full Professor. How have you managed such a career?

The transition from PhD student to Assistant Professor definitely had its challenges. One thing that I could build on though when I came to the Institute was all the ideas that I wanted to put on paper but had not the time to do so during my dissertation writing. This, a bit of luck (in terms of getting papers accepted for publication, for example), supportive colleagues and work environment helped me during the various promotion processes.

How did you perceive the Institute in 2009 and how do you “experience” it now?

When I first started out at the Institute, I admittedly had not heard much about it. I had done my PhD in the US but wanted to come back to Europe. I was looking for a place that offers an academic environment that resembles the one I had gotten to know and like in the US. As it turned out, the Institute was the perfect fit.

Then and now I very much enjoy the innovative and constructive research environment. When I hear about some of the projects that are going on, I wish I could be a research assistant again. I also became much more aware of what research is going on at the Institute with our move to Maison de la paix. It is just so much easier to talk about ideas over a coffee.

And I am also very happy to see that we hired so many more scholars since I arrived. With these new hires, not only the Institute’s research but also its teaching portfolio have become broader. And they have brought some diversity to our faculty.

What has Geneva brought you?

Besides a bewilderment for people’s fascination with melted cheese and a great appreciation for having a big body of water so close by, being in Geneva has helped me with my research agenda. I was already working on international organisations when I arrived here – mainly on regional and Western security organisations. Moving to Geneva meant that for the first time I could actually live in “my field”, so to speak. And I could exchange with colleagues about their experiences with said field and through their disciplinary lenses. I have since started learning more about humanitarian organisations as well as global umbrella organisations. While I yet have to work on Geneva-based organisations, their presence definitely has informed my thinking and new research projects, especially my new project on relationships between the UN and regional organisations in the multilateral use of force.

This article originally appeared in Globe No. 21, Spring 2018.