Research Trip to Brussels Supported by the UACES Scholarship

Sadaf Shahhosseini |


I am incredibly grateful to have been awarded the prestigious UACES scholarship. As a Ph.D. candidate in political science, this incredible opportunity has allowed me to embark on an exciting journey to the heart of European politics to conduct fieldwork research.

The capital of Belgium and the de-facto capital of the European Union, Brussels served as an ideal setting for my research. I was immediately struck by the rich history and cosmopolitan atmosphere of the vibrant city. With its numerous EU institutions, policymakers, and international organizations, conducting fieldwork in Brussels presented a unique opportunity to explore the captivating realm of European politics.

With the support of the UACES scholarship, I spent 7 weeks researching in Brussels from the 27th of March to the 14th of May 2023. The scholarship covered my transport, accommodation, and food expenses, providing me with a remarkable opportunity to conduct research for my thesis on the European Union’s capacity as an autonomous actor in international affairs, with a particular focus on its involvement in the Iranian nuclear crisis.


The Why of This Trip

The primary objective of my research trip was to conduct in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and experts within EU institutions. Engaging in direct conversations with policymakers, advisors, and scholars allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the EU’s strategies, positions, and interactions with other international actors in the context of international conflict resolution. These interviews form the cornerstone of my thesis and provide invaluable firsthand insights into the EU’s role, actions, and decision-making processes during the Iranian nuclear crisis.


Conducting Interviews and Networking

Thanks to the UACES scholarship, I had the privilege of conducting interviews with EU officials in prominent institutions, including the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Parliament. These enlightening conversations offered unique perspectives on the EU’s involvement in the Iranian nuclear crisis, providing a crucial empirical foundation for my thesis. Analyzing the rich data collected during my interviews, I hope to contribute to the academic discourse on the EU’s international actorness and autonomy.

Moreover, this research trip facilitated valuable collaborations and networking opportunities. I was honored to be a visiting researcher at both Kent University’s Brussels School of International Studies and at the Université libre de Bruxelles. These research stays not only provided me with essential resources such as libraries, internet facilities, and academic working spaces, but also connected me with respected researchers and experts specializing in the Iranian nuclear crisis and European politics. The guidance and support from these esteemed host institutions significantly enhanced the quality and depth of my research, fostering an environment of intellectual exchange and interdisciplinary engagement


Concluding the Benefits

As my fieldwork research in Brussels drew to a close, I felt a deep sense of gratitude and accomplishment. The UACES scholarship not only provided the means for me to conduct in-depth interviews but also enabled me to immerse myself in the vibrant political landscape of the European Union. The knowledge and insights gained from this research trip will undoubtedly shape my future academic pursuits and significantly contribute to my thesis research, shedding light on the EU’s role in the Iranian nuclear crisis and its broader actorness in international affairs.