25 Feb 2014

WTI opens its doors to non-resident doctoral candidates

The World Trade Institute (WTI) welcomed Professor Thomas Cottier’s non-resident doctoral students in law to its Annual Doctoral Seminar in Bern on 21 and 22 February where 12 candidates delivered 45-minute presentations on their topics of research.

The two-day seminar covered the research areas of WTO law, commodities and tax, intellectual property rights, dispute settlement and environmental law and EU law.

WTI is home to a number of resident PhD students but also accommodates the busy work schedules of non-residents who are pursuing careers with trade ministries, embassies, law firms, etc. These PhD students come to Bern twice annually: once for the Annual Doctoral Seminar and once for the Annual Retreat.

The annual seminar is compulsory for non-residents, but for those attending it was a valuable experience.

“It’s really useful to come and listen and exchange with other students and experts in the same field and receive feedback,” said Joelle Nwabueze, who was presenting on Heritage Digitization and Intellectual Property Protection: Case Study of the Eastern Nigeria Region.

International flavour

“It is always a pleasure to hear about the research of our non-resident PhD students, who very admirably juggle busy work schedules, academic research and sometimes even parenthood! They come from as close as Bern and Zurich and as far as Berlin, Brussels, Enugu (Nigeria), Luxembourg, New York, Shanghai, Tashkent and Tokyo, bringing their valuable practical experience to our academic discussions twice a year, and we are very fortunate to host them at the World Trade Institute,” commented doctoral school programme director Shaheeza Lalani.

Structured evaluation sheets were distributed to the students at the end of the Annual Doctoral Seminar. These assess whether the thesis title is appropriate; whether the topic is well researched; the presentation is well rehearsed, focused, easy to follow and structured, and whether the thesis has any substantive weaknesses. 

Students commented that these were very useful and served as guidance in the next stages of the “PhD marathon”.

WTI’s recently launched doctoral programme sets great store by bringing PhD candidates together in an informal atmosphere to exchange ideas, present research and obtain peer feedback.  A key strand is the retreat held every autumn in a Swiss resort.

Participants in last autumn’s retreat in Grindelwald were positive about the experience, with one commenting that they had left very inspired and had received a lot of great input.