Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Vienna School of International Studies
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Interdisciplinarity and a Four-Pillar Approach to International Affairs
Markus Kornprobst, PhD
Professor and Chair of International Relations
Vienna School of International Studies
Diplomatic Academy of Vienna
Teaching and research at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna (DA), the Vienna School of International Studies, are shaped by an interdisciplinary approach to embracing the complex elements of international affairs. The Master of Advanced International Studies Program with its multidisciplinary pillars (international relations, international economics, international and European law, and history), reflects this approach in teaching as well as in research, uniting excellent students from all over the world with first degrees in different disciplines in their pursuit of careers in international affairs.
A great number of DA students—no matter what discipline they had chosen for their first degree—decide to write their interdisciplinary master thesis on a topic related to political science. Why is that so, will this trend continue, and how do you judge the developments in your field?
Political science is an inter-discipline. It borrows a lot from other disciplines, such as economics, history, and law, which we also offer here at the DA. The thesis—this is a key requirement—has to be inter-disciplinary, and political science makes this inter-disciplinarity very easy, even almost natural, to achieve. I have to say that knowledge in four disciplines greatly adds to the research papers and theses written by our students. The papers produced by our students compare favorably with the major universities in North America and the United Kingdom, where I taught before I came here.
Almost two-thirds of DA’s graduates work in international organizations, the institutions of the European Union, or as public servants/diplomats for their countries. What do you see as the greatest challenge for these future leaders?
First of all, I really should emphasize that this placement record is excellent. I am always very proud when I go to the International Centre here in Vienna, where the United Nations is located, and meet many former students. DA students enjoy a high reputation there. The challenges for future leaders are manifold. Political problems go increasingly global. Challenges in the security and economic fields persist. But there are many other fields—just think of environment and health, for example—that are very important for the future as well.
How do you prepare the students for these challenges and how does the DA support you in your efforts?
We attempt to train young people to look at these challenges through different lenses (the four disciplines we teach), and thus enable them to be innovative in order to meet them. Teaching excellence is important for us. Our internationally recognized resident and non-resident faculty tend to teach in small classes, read student drafts (for instance of master’s theses), and consider themselves mentors. We also believe that excellent research feeds into excellent teaching. Thus, our faculty publishes with the best publishing houses and top-tier journals.
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