Faculty and Staff Spotlight - Dr. Elina Brutschin
Dr. Elina Brutschin, assistant professor of international relations:
- Can you tell us a bit more about your background (e.g. where you are from/what brought you to Vienna)?
I was born in the beautiful country of Kazakhstan. I spent some time in the Czech Republic, Poland, Turkey and particularly in Germany where I got my PhD at Konstanz University. Finally, a post-graduate program at the Institute for Advanced Studies brought me to Vienna, and I’ve stayed here ever since.
- What is the most challenging aspect of conducting research/publishing papers?
It is always difficult to formulate an interesting research question. Many good questions (or I guess the most interesting questions) have been answered already or are very difficult to answer. I try to relay this difficulty to my students as well – you have to do a lot of research before you can find what has not been studied yet (or at least to think of a good way to answer a difficult question).
- You have had quite an international career, what are the most valuable lesson you have learned along the way?
There is always something new to learn. Every culture has a different perspective on things, and I’ve enjoyed experiencing some of these different perspectives throughout my life yet I know there are so many more out there. It’s a motivation for me to continue researching and exploring.
- Congratulations on publishing your book on EU gas security! What inspired you to write on this topic?
Gas security in Europe has been on the radar of scholars from different disciplines – economists, political scientists, historians and lawyers to name a few. The challenge to read (and to understand) the literature from these different disciplines was exciting for me. Additionally, over time it has become a very relevant topic. Many policy-makers are concerned about gas security in Europe and ways to improve the resilience measures in the gas sector. My book traces some of the successful strategies that the European Commission has utilized in order to coordinate member state policies in the gas sector.
- What is your favorite memory while teaching at Webster Vienna?
I teach Research Methods to undergraduate and graduate international relations students, and I try to make the content more accessible to students because it can be a difficult subject. Once, I made a joke about the probability of students falling asleep during my class (I even prepared a slide with some statistics) when suddenly I, and the rest of the students, noticed that one student was asleep. Maybe the example was a little too relatable.
- What advice do you have for this year’s graduating class?
It is difficult to advise something that is not cliché. A philosophy graduate student who ended up being a programmer and then a student advisor once told me when I was 17: “Always do what is most fun for you, if something is not fun anymore stop doing it.” I am very fortunate to have a job in academia because it is perfect for curious people who love to learn something new every day.
- Do you have any hidden talents?
No hidden talents, you get what you see.