Natalia Pervushina's reflections on the Doctoral Program (2019)

March 3, 2017

I joined PhD program in Environmental Sciences and Policy Department in Central European University with a Master’s degree from International Relations and European Studies (IRES) Department in CEU and several years of working experience in World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Federal Russian Customs on the Russian Far East. Even though my previous work places provided opportunities for young professionals to expand their studies in various Universities in Russia and other countries, I knew that Environmental Sciences and Policy Department in CEU was one of the very few that offered PhD program with inter-disciplinary focus and practical trainings on the most contemporary global environmental issues.
Being trained in diplomacy, international relations theory and international law, I have always had a passion for nature conservation and ecology. In Russian Federal Customs on the Russian Far East, I was in charge for inter-customs communication with customs departments in other countries in Asia on various subjects including environmental. After governmental work, my passion for nature conservation brought me to WWF and TRAFFIC (wildlife trade monitoring network, a joint alliance of WWF and IUCN) where I developed and coordinated programs focused on combating with illegal trade in Tigers and Tigers parts across Asia. While working on Tiger trade programs, I coordinated with various WWF and TRAFFIC offices across Tiger range countries in Asia as well as with other environmental NGOs, international organisations and government agencies dealing with legal and illegal wildlife trade across Asia and globally. I also represented WWF and TRAFFIC at various global governmental meetings and conferences related to Tiger and Wildlife trade such as CITES COPs, Global Tiger Ministerial meetings and etc.
Having gained knowledge and experience at the conservation management work, I am committed to further expand expertise and career. As a graduate of IRES department in CEU, I was well aware of the interdisciplinary and ambitious PhD program at the EnviSci department. It does offer an amazing opportunity for young professionals and academics from various field to pursue a degree and strengthen their knowledge under the supervision of world renowned practitioners. Not to mention that you are immersed in a unique multi-cultural environment of students and professors and provided with a decent academic scholarship. My PhD dissertation is devoted to investigating Tiger trade problem in the Amur-Heilong region (transborder area between Russia and China) under the supervision of Dr. Victor Lagutov.
From the very first days of my PhD studies, I was involved in practical conferences and workshops on environmental security organised by my supervisor. This experience allowed me to present my research topic and expand international academic network. During the first year of studies, we had to go through several disciplinary and inter-disciplinary courses for Phd students where we were guided by professors to ask the right questions for our own research, further develop analytical and writing skills, got introduced to the most contemporary global environmental issues and most recent works of the prominent academics in the field. Considering that most of us were coming from various backgrounds, PhD courses gave an opportunity to share ideas, get different perspectives on our research topics, challenge and further improve our research questions what usually comprises the essence of any academic work. PhD students could also take courses in other departments in CEU, as well as enhance our teaching skills and learn other languages through various training courses offered on campus.
In addition to strengthening academic skills, department professors engage PhD students in scientific work of leading international practitioners and scholars. For instance, I was involved as a contributing author and fellow to the Fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO 5) for UNEP under the supervision of Dr. Laszlo Pinter and published an article related to my research in Springer edition under the supervision of my supervisor Dr. Victor Lagutov. Such experience allows to broaden your academic and professional network and introduce your research topic to other practitioners and researchers globally what is critical for young scholars.
Life of a PhD student might seem to be eventless and monotonous for those who are not familiar with the student life in CEU or Environmental Sciences and Policy department, which is one of the most practical departments at the University. Be prepared for challenging intellectual discussions, scientific events, exciting field trips and meeting a plethora of prominent academics and leading practitioners in the field if you are a PhD student at our department.