A time of significant sufferings

A time of significant sufferings

Five young researchers from Unifr have made it. They will write their dissertation based on a collaboration between Unifr and a foreign university and will receive a support grant of max. CHF 10.000.-. We present them and their research in a series of portraits.

The programme is called «Cotutelle de thèse», is administered by swissuniversities and very much welcomed by the university management: This grant is intended to recognise the (double) work of doctoral students who choose to have a dissertation jointly supervised with a foreign partner university. The financial grants serve to cover travel and accommodation expenses, among other things. Today we introduce Nicolò Alessi (29) of the Faculty of Law, Institute of Federalism. His supervisor is Prof. Eva Maria Belser.

If my supervisors had to describe me in three words, they would be:
Ambitious, anxious, multitasking.

What my research is about: 
The legal models for the accommodation of (cultural and other types of) diversity and federalism.

I study the models of accommodation of diversity in constitutional legal systems, and I try to provide an analytical conceptual framework to grasp their evolution beyond classic minority rights, also by proposing federalism as an analytical frame and tool for at least some of the emergent models.

My partner university abroad and why it is so important for my project:
Actually I come from Italy and had started my PhD at the University of Verona, and then I arranged a «Cotutelle de thèse» with the University of Fribourg. So I would say that my partner University is Unifr. The cotutelle is absolutely critical for my project since I have the chance to access the scientific resources of the University of Fribourg and, especially of the Institute of Federalism, which I could not have found in Verona. Furthermore, working at the Institute of Federalism gives me the opportunity to meet my supervisor and other researchers and to discuss with them my research and its progress, with their experience helping me in many respects, not least from a methodological point of view. It must be said that the pandemic significantly reduced the possibility to do so, but I have been seizing this chance as long as possible. Moreover, the Institute of Federalism being one of the most important centers of federal studies in the world, my thesis will acquire surplus value and great visibility.
What I hope to gain from this «Cotutelle de thèse» project:
First, I hope that my one-year research period in Fribourg – the very first in my life, since I did not have the opportunity to participate in an Erasmus programme – will eventually make me feel more self-confident and realise that I am able to do such things as living abroad (in pandemic times), facing difficulties and developing strategies to overcome them.
Second, I would like to build a network of solid relations which I may rely on in my future career.
Third, I hope I will end up with a thesis that primarily gratifies me and the gives justice to the effort I have been putting into it. What I look for is to feel somewhat satisfied, and deliver a work which may be the basis of my future research, if I will decide to do so. Since, to be honest, I still do not know precisely what I am going to do after my PhD, and, especially, if this is the life I’d rather live. But I think it is normal. After all, the PhD is a path, besides representing, as one Professor once told me, a time of significant sufferings.
Finally, hopefully my cotutelle will help me find my way.

That could be a challenge for me:
Remembering the name of all Swiss cantons.

My fellow students should definitely know that:
I can’t stand seeing pasta together with salad on the same plate.


Do you also feel like travelling now?
Take the opportunity and venture a study exchange at one of Unifr’s European partner universities. There are still places available for 2021/2022. First come, first served! To the Unifr mobility programme: https://www.unifr.ch/studies/en/mobility/


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Lovis A. Hoppmann ist Germanist_in, Philosoph_in und Autor_in, seit 2018 zudem Redaktor_in und Social-Media-Expert_in im Team Unicom. Lovis bezeichnet sich selbst als Textarchitekt_in und verfasst in der Freizeit Romane und Kurzgeschichten.

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