20 January 2020

Shriya Patnaik Receives Graduate Institute Community Scholarship

Shriya is from the state of Odisha in India. She received her Bachelor in History and South Asia Studies from Cornell University. After her undergraduate studies, she pursued a Dual Master in International History from Columbia University and the London School of Economics. She is currently a PhD candidate in International History.  

Having spent my formative years at a boarding school, when I went back home for vacation, my grandparents would captivate me with their stories about life under colonial rule. Growing up, I could see the visible legacy of the Empire still affecting our daily lives. 

Those stories made me want to study more in-depth the historic processes that led to a marginalisation of gendered minorities in the Global South, which is why I pursued a master’s and now a PhD.

In addition to my academic background, I have worked extensively in the public policy and non-profit sectors. Those professional experiences allowed me to marry my passions for research with affecting concrete change on the ground. But I was always certain that my future lay in academia; I was blessed to be able to return to an institute that would allow me to combine my research, humanitarian and development interests. To that end, I am currently researching the interrelated geo-political, socio-economic and legal processes that brought about a marginalisation of gendered subalterns and sexual minorities in colonial South Asia.

I chose the Graduate Institute for its proximity to prominent humanitarian and development organisations in Geneva as well as its exemplary faculty. The Institute has offered me an outstanding range of resources for studying about women’s rights and human rights' debates, and the guidance I have received from professors is letting me creatively unfold as I explore a wide range of ideas and correlate them to my field of study. On a personal level, studying in London and visiting France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland during the summer has been a revelation for me. Life is refreshingly different and I am in love with Europe!

I feel privileged, humbled, grateful and hugely validated to have received the Institute's Community Scholarship. Without it, I would not have been able to take undertake my PhD in Europe and benefit from the rich culture of research at the Graduate Institute. Furthermore, this scholarship shows just how seriously the Institute takes genuine social research and the contribution it makes towards global issues. 

This scholarship has allowed me to fulfil a dream: to research root causes and interrelated factors that gave rise to many levels of inequality we see in the world today. I have the opportunity to learn a new language, meet seniors and colleagues from all over the world, and grow as a person. With my PhD, I genuinely hope to establish the markers that can help the world notice and avoid such future social catastrophic marginalisation. 

I hope that my research will not only have an impact on the intellectual community, but that it will also be of use to social workers, policymakers and fuel wider public discourses on women’s rights and minority rights. 

Since 2013, the Graduate Institute community – the Foundation Board, administrative personnel and faculty, as well as retired professors – has mobilised to raise funds that provide a full scholarship for a student from the Global South. These funds are awarded annually as a show of solidarity with the Institute and with those students who would not be able to study in Geneva without financial aid.