Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog
Archive
Alumni

This piece was originally published on the British Council Pakistan website. Republished with their kind permission.

Maria Khan (photo by the British Council Germany)

Maria Khan (photo by the British Council Germany)

27 year-old Maria Khan is this year’s winner of the IELTS Award, the first of its kind in Germany.
Maria, originally from Pakistan, has just finished her Bachelor’s course (her second!) at Bard College Berlin. Her application was chosen out of more than a hundred we received.
British Council | IELTS will cover £10,000 of her tuition fees at Newnham College at the University of Cambridge in the UK. We wanted to learn more about her, so we have met up with Maria to talk about her impressive application and plans for the future but also to learn more about her passions outside of university.

FIRST OF ALL, HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THE IELTS AWARD? WHO OR WHAT DREW YOUR ATTENTION TO IT?

Maria: I found about the award through the IELTS website. I was registering for the IELTS exam, I read about the award and thought I could apply for it.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, HOW YOU ENDED UP IN GERMANY AND WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING HERE. WE HAVE HEARD A CERTAIN PAKISTANI POET PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR DECISION AS WELL. WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL US MORE ABOUT HIM?

Maria: In 2010, I graduated from Kinnaird College for Women Lahore. After completing my BSc Economics I had decided to pursue public policy. However, I always wanted to study in Germany since one of the leading Pakistani poets and philosophers, Muhammad Iqbal, received his education at Heidelberg University, Germany. Iqbal also received part of his education at Cambridge, where he was the student of neo-Hegelians i.e. John McTaggart and James Ward. Iqbal’s poetry and philosophy had been an integral part of my upbringing and not only had Iqbal received his education in Germany, he was very much influenced by Nietzsche’s concept of Will. While looking for schools in Europe I came across a very small residential liberal arts university called European College of Liberal Arts, Berlin, now called Bard College Berlin. Initially I came for a one year program to study literature and philosophy before I began graduate school, but I realized that I wanted to invest more time in the humanities; reading, writing and thinking about works of the Western canon and learn languages i.e. German and French.

Read more
The cover of Aurelia's recently published book of poems

The cover of Aurelia’s recently published book of poems in Romanian

Subtly overwhelmed by the realization of my graduation, I, like my graduating class fellows, have embarked upon the journey of exploring the world of “what if.” Amidst the swirl of mixed emotions signalling the end of another fruitful academic year at Bard College Berlin, I found myself caught within an entanglement which marks a fixed and certain end, and at the same time announces an exciting, but yet unknown beginning. Potential anchors in this unrelenting “self-search” vary from one graduate to another, but beyond these differences, I harbor a wish to discover the promising land of “what if” by finding the trajectory of those who have already been in my situation, but have followed their own inspiring path. I found out about the “road taken” by an alumna of our university, Aurelia Cojocaru, currently a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and author, publishing under the pen name Aura Maru. The following interview is an interesting glimpse into the marked stations that Aurelia passed on her path.      

Read more

Andrei Poama

Andrei Poama

I’m meeting Andrei Poama, a Romanian PhD candidate in Political Theory at Sciences Po in Paris, where he is working on theories of punishment. This fall he co-taught a class on Foundations of Moral and Political Thought, which I attended. He is also an alumnus of Bard College Berlin’s (previously ECLA’s) International Summer University of 2004, and studied in Bucharest, at Oxford, and Yale. We talked about his experience of the ISU, his current research, and models of education.

D: You joined the ISU in 2004, right?

A: Yes, I was there just for the summer school in 2004, when I was 20 years old. I arrived one week earlier, which made it almost two months.

How did you find out about the school?

I remember I was watching about it on television. The director of the program at the time was Theodor Paleologu. He talked about it in very nice terms. During the communist times there was this ‘Romanian Heidegger’—Constantin Noica—who founded the school Școala de la Păltiniș: kind of elitist, not so phenomenological as Heidegger, but close – in places as unintelligible as Heidegger. Noica’s idea was to create a school where the professors would learn more than the students, and Theodor presented the ISU as being sort of the same as Noica’s project. He really advertised it, and so I went on the internet, looked it up, and eventually applied.

Read more
Alumnus Florian Hoffmann giving a talk at Bard College Berlin (photo by the author)

Alumnus Florian Hoffmann giving a talk at Bard College Berlin (photo by the author)

On December 4, in the frame of the core course “Bildung: Education and Formation” led by Prof. Dr. Matthias Hurst, Bard College Berlin welcomed alumnus Florian Hoffmann, the Founder and President of the DO School, for a talk on “21st Century Skills and the Future of Higher Education.” Florian is one of the old “veterans”– an Academy Year (and later Project Year) student in one of the first generations of graduates. He is one of the people who witnessed how the college was taking shape, and still remembers the days when students, with great enthusiasm and joy, helped set up the classrooms by moving furniture, patiently eating tons of pizza before the Cafeteria was established – whilst enjoying a number of enlightening and educational early guest lectures that took place on campus. Florian says he would describe our college as “a small liberal arts education institution in the beautiful city of Berlin, offering courses in humanities.” As a social entrepreneur and innovator in the field of higher education, he is greatly engaged in helping liberal arts students actualize their greatest potential that the liberal arts education helps increase.

On our campus, Florian Hoffmann talked about the dynamics of the modern Western university system and how the DO School – a globally engaged social enterprise that educates, trains and mentors talented post-graduate individuals to transform their ideas into action – fits within the transitional period between college and professional occupation/post-graduate studies. He is a man of action, with a strong emphasis on doing, regularly engaging himself by contributing to the public debate on higher education and innovation. He has taught the DO School method at a variety of universities including Columbia University, Oxford University, and the Hasso Plattner Institute at Potsdam University.

Read more

Ira Melkonyan during a class trip to the Jewish Museum, March 2012 (Photo by Irina Stelea)

Ira Melkonyan during a class trip to the Jewish Museum, March 2012 (Photo by Irina Stelea)

Ira Melkonyan (b. 1988 in Ukraine) is an alumna of ECLA of Bard who took classes mainly in philosophy, art history, and aesthetics during her 2011/2012 Academy Year. She is a theater performer and a scientist who derives inspiration from the “contradictions and paradoxes found in the symbiotic and parasitic existence of all things.” Melkonyan was awarded a Master’s degree in Microbiology and Virology from the Odessa National University in 2010. It is in the Mediterranean region, on the island of Malta, that she found a breathing ground to merge her two great passions – art and science. In May 2009 she became a member of Malta’s national multi-disciplinary artist collective rubberbodies. Melkonyan is currently a member of staff at the Pharmacy Department of the University of Malta. Today we talked about her overall experience at ECLA of Bard, her life afterwards, as well as her views on art, science, and the concept of BioArt (an art practice that manipulates live tissues, bacteria and living organisms into artworks, using scientific processes such as biotechnology).

Read more

Hannes Kloepper

“Students should be made aware of the fact that there is no such thing as knowledge as such – knowledge that just exists out there and is discovered by people as the objective truth.“

[hupso_hide]

Hannes Klöpper (Germany) is a 2006/2007 Academy Year alumnus of ECLA of Bard. He holds a Dual-Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and a B.A. in International Relations from the Technische Universität (TU) Dresden. Hannes is the co-founder and the current Managing Director and Chief Academic Officer (CAO) of the online open-course platform start-up iversity, situated in the northern borough of Berlin called Bernau. Last year Hannes wrote a book in collaboration with Yehuda Elkana on the future of the university in the digital age. In addition to that, he worked on the “New Digital Society” project in 2010/2011 as an associate of the “Stiftung Neue Verantwortung,” and was also one of the initiators of the blog for “Causa Guttenberg.” Today we talked about his experience at ECLA of Bard, his life after the Academy Year, as well as the future of education in the context of his work on iversity. 

Read more

‘I have nothing to say, but I say it regularly’ was the amusing end note used by Evgeny Morozov for the workshop on blogs and podcasting. As a former student of ECLA, who now works with bloggers and journalists from Central Asia and the rest of ex-USSR, Evgeny returned during the ECLA Week with a series of interesting points.

The word ‘blog’ is nowadays among the most looked up words on the Internet. Blogs have evolved from being just online public diaries to sources of information, news, discussion arenas or even a way to make money. Blog themes can vary from politics to cooking or technology – however, half of the 57 million blogs that exist today are used to comment on current events and news. As can be expected, this raises a number of serious issues in regard to mainstream media.

Because bloggers have a much wider information base than mainstream commentators, and are not concerned with copyright laws and write for free, journalists are somewhat uneasy about blogging. However, the blogosphere is not yet a cause for concern because, unlike other media, it does not usually verify facts. In fact, most bloggers use mainstream media as their primary source of information. Evgeny explained that “Bloggers are playing the role of a watchdog for mainstream media” – for example by taking a stand in cases of plagiarism.

Read more

ECLA Welcomes Back AlumniIn the middle of World Cup madness, ECLA welcomed close to 100 alumni back to campus for its first-ever alumni reunion. The majority of attendees came from Europe, but several alumni like Kenny Tan (ISU 2004, Singapore) and Anisa Shaikh (AY 2004, Pakistan) traveled long distances to attend the weekend event. Alumni were assigned to rooms in ECLA’s three student houses and even alumni who currently reside in Berlin elected to sleep on-campus in order to relive the ECLA experience.

All meals and most of the weekend activities took place in an event tent in the gardens of the student houses. However, alumni did not escape the lecture hall entirely; Programme Directors Peter Hajnal and Thomas Norgaard held a panel discussion there on Friday where they answered questions concerning ECLA’s future. The alumni who attended were most interested in ECLA’s accreditation process and how the college would develop its Academy Year and Project Year programmes into a four-year curriculum.

The two-hour discussion might have lasted much longer if it weren’t for the World Cup. Alumni headed back to the tent in time to watch the Germany – Argentina match on a big screen. After Germany had safely advanced to the semi finals, the evening buffet was opened. Director of Alumni Relations Dick Shriver provided some dinner entertainment and evoked many fond memories with his slideshow presentation: ‘A Pictorial History of ECLA’. After dinner, alumni took turns singing their favorite songs at a late-night Karaoke party.

Read more