Center for the Study of Politics (CEVIPOL)

Department of Political Science



Seda Gürkan is Assistant Professor in European Approaches to Security, Diplomacy and Global Affairs at Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA). She is also an Affiliated Fellow and Professor at the Department of Political Science and the Institute for European Studies (IEE), at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

Dr. Gürkan is a graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE), ULB and Diplomatic School of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Gürkan was previously a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC and a visiting fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). In addition to her wide range of academic experience in EU Studies, she has worked at the highest levels of professional politics and policy: as a member of NATO International Staff and advisor to the Assistant Secretary General at NATO HQ dealing with NATO-EU relations, cyber defence, missile defence and counter-terrorism; as a consultant to the European Parliament; and as a lobbyist, researcher and trainer in Washington DC, London, Brussels, Istanbul and Madrid. Dr. Gürkan regularly provides expert opinions to the European Parliament on the EU's enlargement, human rights and the EU's neighbourhood. Dr. Gürkan is the country expert (Turkey) for Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) since 2018.

Dr. Gürkan's research interests include the EU’s external relations (with a focus on the Eastern neighbourhood, human rights and enlargement), the crises the EU has been facing since 2009, the EU's role in global affairs, EU institutions, European integration theories, parliamentary diplomacy (European Parliament) and emotions in international relations. Dr. Gürkan has published on these topics in peer reviewed journals and book chapters in edited volumes, and has presented around 70 innovative papers at leading international conferences and workshops. Her latest publications include a co-authored volume with Nathalie Brack ‘Theorizing the Crises of the European Union’ published by Routledge in 2021 and a Special Issue she co-edited with Ozlem Terzi and Trineke Palm on the ‘Emotions in EUropean Foreign Policy’ by Global Affairs in 2021. She is currently involved in two Horizon Europe projects, both dealing with the impact of the processes of autocratisation in the EU's neighbouring countries on the EU's foreign policy instruments: Horizon-MSCA ‘Globalisation, Europe and Multilateralism: Democratic institutions, the rise of alternative models and mounting normative dissensus’ and Horizon RIA project ‘Respond to Emerging Dissensus: Supranational Instruments and Norms of European democracy’.

Dr. Gürkan is a former scholar of German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and Atlantik Brücke Young Leaders Program Alumna. She was awarded Jean Monnet scholarship by the European Commission. Dr. Gürkan was a Robert Schuman Scholar at the European Parliament, Directorate General for Committees and Delegations, Enlargement section (Brussels) in 2003. She offered senior courses on international relations and international security at NATO Defence College (Rome, Italy) and NATO School in Oberammergau (Germany). She received NATO research award with her research project on European Security Architecture.  Dr. Gürkan is a former American Field Service (AFS) scholar and she holds an Art Diploma from Rome, Italy. Dr. Gürkan speaks Turkish (native), Spanish (native), English, French and Italian (all fluent).


Current positions:

01/2023– present: Assistant Professor in European Approaches to Security, Diplomacy and Global Affairs, Leiden University, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA).

10/2015 – present: Lecturer in International Relations and European Studies, Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Political Science Department, ULB; Institute for European Studies (IEE) and CEVIPOL
01/2020 – present: Consultant to the European Parliament on enlargement, democratization and human rights, Office of the Spokesperson on Human Rights and Standing Rapporteur on Turkey (part-time)
10/2018 – present: Bertelsmann Stiftung, (autocratisation and Turkey) expert (part-time)


2014 Ph.D. in Political Science and Social Sciences, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels

  • Dissertation: ‘The Impact of the EU on Turkish Foreign Policy during the Pre-Accession Process to the EU (1997-2005): A la Carte Europeanization’
  • Supervisor: Prof. Mario Telò

2002 Master of Science (MSc) in European Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science

  • Thesis: ‘The Implications of the Common European Security and Defence Policy (CESDP) for non-EU, European NATO Allies’
  • Supervisor: Prof. William Wallace

Previous Research and Work Experience

2020-2021: Visiting fellow at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), Political Science Department

2012-2014: Research Fellow (May-June 2012) and non-resident fellow (June 2012-2014), Johns Hopkins University, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Center for Transatlantic Relations, Washington DC

2006-2012: Advisor to the Assistant Secretary General, member of NATO International Staff, responsible for NATO-EU relations, counter-terrorism, cyber defence and defence aspects of military operations (passed the international recruitment examination and ranked among top six over 4.000 candidates)

2004-2005: Research fellow on international security and democratization in Central Eastern European Countries and Caucasian States, Club de Madrid, Madrid

2003-2004: Advisor on the EU's external relations, Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD), EU Representation Office, Brussels

2003: Researcher (Robert Schuman scholar), European Parliament, Directorate General for Committees and Delegations, Enlargement section, Brussels

July 2000: Researcher on European security, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Center for Strategic Research, Ankara

1999-2000: Research Assistant in Political Science, Marmara University, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Istanbul

Courses taught (ULB)

  • External Action of the EU, (MA level)
  • EU institutions, (BA and MA level)
  • Decision-making in the European Union, (MA level)
  • European Negotiations: Simulating Ordinary Legislative Procedure, (MA level)
  • Methodology in European Studies (MA level)
  • Doctoral Seminar on Theory, Methodology and Research in Political Science (PhD level)
  • Seminar series on Contemporary Turkish Studies


  • English (advanced)
  • French (advanced)
  • Turkish (advanced)
  • Spanish (advanced)
  • Italian (good)

Domaines d'intérêt

My most recent research focuses on: (1) the impact of the processes of autocratisation in the EU’s neighbourhood on its foreign policy instruments; (2) the role of the EU political elite’s emotions in shaping the EU’s crisis diplomacy; (3) the EU’s crisis narrative in foreign policy.

My main research interests include:

  • EU in global affairs
  • the EU's soft power, its transformative power and Normative Power Europe
  • Europeanization/democratization/autocratization
  • European integration theories
  • EU policy-making
  • EU conditionality
  • EU enlargement
  • The EU's (Eastern) neighbourhood
  • Turkish politics and EU-Turkey relations
  • Parliamentary diplomacy (European Parliament)
  • Emotions in IR

Présentation des enseignements

My current teaching draws on a research-led and practice-embedded learning method. The syllabi for my classes combine theory and practice through interactive lectures, simulation games, encounters with practitioners, visits to EU institutions, and case-based learning. I can teach the following courses (in both English and French):

  • EU in Global Affairs
  • EU External Relations/External Action of the EU
  • EU institutions
  • EU policy-making
  • Theory and Methodology in Political Science
  • Ordinary legislative procedure
  • EU's neighbourhood
  • EU-Turkey relations
  • Contemporary Turkey
  • Process-Tracing
  • Academic writing

I have certified training in process-tracing, interview techniques, Critical Discourse Analysis, Interpretive Methods, and I am a certified advanced NVivo user. I can give postgraduate trainings (Master and doctoral levels) on all of these methods.

Présentation des recherches

My research and teaching have evolved at the crossroads of EU studies, comparative politics (area studies) and International Relations (IR). In a nutshell, my research interests include the EU’s external relations (its role in global governance with a focus on enlargement policy and its promotion of pro-democracy norms), IR theory (domestic-international linkages, emotions research, norm diffusion), area studies (processes of autocratisation in the Eastern neighbourhood and Turkey) and qualitative methods (process-tracing, elite interviewing and bridging positivist-interpretive techniques).

Travaux sélectionnés

Latest publications:

For previous publications see DI-fusion list: http://difusion.ulb.ac.be/vufind/Search/Home?lookfor=GuRKAN,Seda&sort=pubdate+desc&type=person

Recent Media Appearances (selected):

Mis à jour le 13 novembre 2023