Overseas Institutional Visit at the University of California, Irvine 

Report by Johanna Schönhöfer (Socio-legal studies Pathway, University of Leeds)

I have recently returned from an Overseas Institutional Visit to the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of California, Irvine. The OIV scheme is a great way to explore new departments and countries, all within the frame of your own work. I applied to visit UCI because it is home to one of the world leading institutes of research on criminology with quantitative as well as qualitative approaches. That being said the Department of Criminology, Law and Society offers a broad range of methodology training for postgraduate research students, aimed to study questions concerned with crime, policing, sentencing, and socio-legal studies. Furthermore, I was planning to discuss my PhD project with leading scholars in my field as well as other PhD students, to receive feedback on my work and to establish contacts for potential future collaborations.

uciThe twelve weeks I spent at the UCI Department of Criminology were a valuable experience in regards to my research as well as personally. I had the chance to receive comments and feedback on the chapters I had previously written as well as on my research design in several personal meetings with professors at the department. In addition, I was able to present and discuss my work in a ‘visiting scholar colloquium’ at the department towards the end of my stay. I participated in several seminars for advanced quantitative methods and has the opportunity to attend talks of some of the world’s most famous criminologists and practitioners, who gave guest lectures at department during my OIV.

I definitely recommend the OIV scheme to everyone who has the ability to apply. A funded PhD is amongst the most flexible times in life and I think it would be a waste not to take advantage of such a possibility to broaden one’s own horizon and see new parts of the world as for instance the OIV scheme. Leaving one’s home country and home institution is beneficial in so many ways, two of the most important ones being the following: as you experience how (academic) life works in other countries (departments) you come to either question current proceedings and circumstances in your home country (department), or you stop taking things for granted, or ideally both. As such, the OIV can make you more open minded and more critical at the same time.

Last But not least, the paid extension of the PhD for the time of the visit is a factor not to be neglected when deciding whether or not to apply for the OIV scheme. This extension is an incredibly generous offer on behalf of the ESRC.