Exploring Research Opportunities With JCU International Affairs

November 17, 2023
JCU International Affairs professor teaching a class

Does the field of International Affairs interest you? If so, John Cabot University provides plenty of opportunities to learn from world-renowned industry experts in and out of the classroom. Dynamic lectures and class discussions combine theory and skill-based lessons with an essential research competency within this discipline.

We recently had the privilege of interviewing professors Nicholas Startin, Simone Tholens, and Bogdan Popescu, who conducted their research and provided experiential learning opportunities to their students. Keep reading to learn more about the research opportunities you should consider as one of our International Affairs students.


Receive Valuable Mentorship From Professors Who Understand Research in the Field

JCU professors are highly qualified professionals who bring valuable experiences and industry knowledge to their dealings with students. Professors Startin, Tholens, and Popescu are all Ph.D. holders with fascinating academic backgrounds at prestigious universities. When asked why JCU appealed to them, all three cited our lively, diverse learning environment.


A JCU student speaking with an older professor.Mentorship is at the heart of research assistantships at JCU


Professor Startin explained what he likes most about JCU: “Definitely, working in an American Liberal Arts environment where students can study a range of disciplines beyond their core interests. I am a great believer in interdisciplinarity and not working in narrow academic silos… I really enjoy teaching on a range of courses with small class groups with inquisitive students from different backgrounds and nationalities. It’s a very stimulating environment in which to teach. It’s uplifting to see students seeking to find answers and solutions to some of the challenges the world faces.”

Professor Tholens highlights the advantage that JCU’s locations lend to International Affairs learning, saying: “The fact that it is located in Rome aids JCU to serve as a hub for events on the many important topics of relevance to (eternal) students of International Affairs.” 


Challenge Yourself Intellectually When You Take a Research Assistantship

Research assistantships at JCU allow students to challenge themselves and assist a professor with real-life research projects. Professor Popescu gave us an example of some enriching and challenging research assistant tasks: “Most recently, a student helped me finalize my book manuscript with Cambridge University Press. He was responsible for reading the manuscript and checking all the tables and figures. Such an experience offers valuable insights behind the process of publishing academic books.”


A JCU student studying diligently in the library.Research assistantships at JCU present opportunities to challenge yourself intellectually


You could also exercise your primary research muscles like Professor Startin’s recent assistant did: “Last semester, a JCU degree-seeking student assisted me with my research on European Radical Right Parties and their shifting policy discourse and rhetoric by studying manifestos and speeches in various languages. It was, I think, a very productive experience.”

Professor Tholens has facilitated three research assistantships where the duties of her students included: “collecting data and synthesizing their findings with regards to how different private peace NGOs practice confidentiality in peace facilitation.”

When you study International Affairs in Rome, research assistantships provide plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself intellectually and develop highly transferable skills that will enrich your career.


Research Opportunities at JCU Will Enrich Your Career

“International Affairs is a field of research,” Professor Popescu states. How so? Professor Startin elaborates: “Up-to-date and cutting-edge research in International Relations is more important than ever given the turbulent and volatile nature of global politics at the moment…In a world that is dominated by media framing the role of academics is vitally important, to provide measured and evidence-based answers.” When you get the practical research skills that organizations need to support well-informed policy-making, you can become a real force to be reckoned with in the field. The career advantages are vast.

Professor Popescu explains: “Depending on the research task, [research assistantships] could have substantial implications for a student’s career. First, a research assistantship could provide valuable insights about the process of knowledge production: for example, coming up with research questions, engaging with the relevant literature, conducting the research itself, and the process of publishing. Additionally, there are also valuable insights about project management.

When asked what advice she would offer International Affairs students interested in research at JCU, Profesor Tholens said: “Come to events! Come see your Professors! Establish study groups with your peers! In short, get active and dig into the privilege of being a student.” Take your skills, experiences, and CV to the next level with the vast array of research opportunities available to you in JCU’s International Affairs department.


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