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The participants of the 2nd LESC in Freiburg (Credits: Alexandra Sachariew, University College Freiburg)

Hello all you BCBers,

In case someone has been wondering about my absence from BCB in the past semester, let me reassure you of my return in Fall 2017: I am currently not in Berlin but studying abroad at AUC in Amsterdam. The first question one might ask is probably: Why would I study abroad in Amsterdam? Isn’t it just like Berlin, only smaller and with canals and actual bike lanes? I asked myself the same things. But if that’s all you know about Amsterdam, you should just come here and fall in love with this beautiful city yourself. Very few people are able to escape its magic spell.

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► Monday: Between Spaces – Art, Urbanism & Public Space

Space only ever exists with a context, charged with socio-political and socio-economic interests, shaped by power structures and defined by boundaries. The 15 artists featured in this exhibition explore issues in urban life from 1970s New York to 1980s East Berlin through the mediums of photography, sculpture, drawing and painting.

  • When: 10:00 – 18:00
  • Where: ZKR – Alt-Biesdorf 55, 12683
  • Admission: 5,50€
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Smolny Campus. (Credit: Smolny Student Conference Organizing Committee)

Two weeks ago, I attended the annual Smolny student conference. Five days I frolicked about and ate lots and lots of pierogies. Not a single dull moment was lived. This article is a reflection on my experience of the city:

I boarded at midnight. The experience was positively surreal. I had run across Riga airport to catch my connection — a process significantly slowed down by the immigration police’s diligence in checking my passport and visa. When I ultimately reached the gate, steadying my heart rate, I saw my flight there was a tiny jetplane. The plane was crowded with a peculiar mix of people: businesswomen and football fans sat side by side. Its odor was a combination of garlic and sweaty old person. Everywhere I looked I saw  babies with the potential to spark total mayhem. The plane shook and puffed and finally got us there in one piece. All the while in front of me, a girl calmly edited her selfie for the duration of the 40 min flight, nudging the brightness back and forth to reach perfection — which of course took a while, because of the shaking and all. But there’s no questioning her determination. I had to remind myself I wasn’t on a bus to a rural town; I was flying to St.Petersburg, the country’s former capital. She greeted me with snow. Welcome to Russia!

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Poster for the 2015 conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Paris

Poster for the 2015 conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Paris

A spectre is haunting economics – or maybe several even. Which ones exactly––the field is not quite agreed on, but it seems to have reached the conclusion that, really, it can’t go on like this. New approaches are called for, new ideas are sought after. To this end, the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), founded and funded primarily by star investor, philanthropist, and Karl Popper student George Soros, gathered an impressive array of leading economists for a four-day conference with the title “Liberté, Egalité, Fragilité” to debate the future of the field in Paris in early April. Present were, among others, the two Nobel Prize laureates Joseph Stiglitz and James Heckman, rising star Thomas Piketty, neo-classicists (roughly, “right-wing economists”) like Hans-Werner Sinn, erratic Marxists like the Greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis, and, last but not least, Bard College Berlin’s own Dirk Ehnts, all joined by a range of scholars from outside the field, like neuroscientist Antonio Damasio or Goethe biographer Nicholas Boyle.

Curious to see where the discipline that defines so much of public life is heading today, I went to catch some of the talks. The concerns raised were sometimes timeless–how should economists think about human beings?–and sometimes very timely, for example in discussions of inequality or the current crisis in Greece. Below is a selection of panels to give you a glimpse of some of the problems that economists think about these days when they turn to the very edge – or core, depending on how you see it – of their discipline.

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On April 17-18, St. Petersburg, Russia, gathered over eighty students and young scholars from Bard-affiliated institutions for a two-day assembly across disciplines. With “Science and Technology through the Prism of Humanities”  as its “umbrella topic”, the Fourth Smolny Annual International Student Conference was held at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the St. Petersburg State University.

Bard College Berlin was represented by Lysan Boshuyzen (BA2, the Netherlands) with the paper “Art Generating Paradigm Shift,” Dylan Davis (BA3, USA) with “Beyond Hate: Exploring the Relationship between Hate and Equality,” Lena Kück (BA1, Germany) who presented on “Focus in Fractions – The Effect of New Technology on our Ability to Focus in Social Environments,” and myself with the paper “The Relationship between Scientific Knowledge and Political and Religious Power in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis.

After our altogether successful presentations and Q&As, we were lucky and organized enough to spend our free time traversing and wandering through the city’s grandiose boulevards, seductive avenues, and historical squares. St. Petersburg is a living architectural miracle – even mere walking feels like a visit to an open air museum. With sunset light accentuating the features of some of its most popular buildings, afternoon chats among young couples, early spring strawberries, birds on the Neva river, and some random wonders that new travelers always find a way to stumble upon, we had a kaleidoscopic experience of the city that sparked a curiosity which, in my judgment, one could never fully satisfy in a place so rich with history and culture, still in the process of building the bridge between the old and the modern. Below are few impressions from St. Petersburg, the iconic wonder of Russian aesthetics – the elegant dame of the Baltic Sea (all photos by Inasa Bibić):

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The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood I

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The Student Action & Youth Leadership Conference in Istanbul, Turkey brought together people from all over the world to the only city in the world that stretches on two continents – Europe and Asia. Although the busy schedule at the conference left us with little time to go out and explore the city, I had firmly decided to take advantage of our last day there, as well as the guided tour, to bring some snippets of Istanbul back to Berlin. Without further ado, here are some glimpses of Istanbul in one day, March 18:

Eye-shaped amulets in Turkey (better known as “nazar”) are believed to protect against “the evil eye” (ill intentions). They can be found everywhere – at bazaars, local gift shops, people’s homes… It would be almost heretic to leave Turkey without purchasing one. Beware though: the amulet only works its magical properties if given to you as a present! Photo: Inasa Bibic

Eye-shaped amulets in Turkey (better known as “nazar”) are believed to protect against “the evil eye” (ill intentions). They can be found everywhere – at bazaars, local gift shops, people’s homes… It would be almost heretic to leave Turkey without purchasing one. Beware though: the amulet only works its magical properties if given to you as a present! (Photo: Inasa Bibic)

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ECLA Students in Kyrgyzstan

ECLA Students in Kyrgyzstan

On April 27 Madalina Rosca, Sarah Junghans and I journeyed to Kyrgyzstan to attend the international student conference on Freedom and Responsibility organized by the American University of Central Asia (AUCA).

Although free, responsible and legally aged, we didn’t go alone. Bartholomew Ryan and Bruno Macaes also came, to offer us their support and expertise. As we arrived two days before the conference started, we could discover the beauty of Bishkek and its surroundings. So the adventure began…

Following Bruno’s suggestion, we decided to rent a cab and to visit the famous Issyk Kul Lake. It took us four hours to get there, four hours in which some of our talents and interests have been revealed. Thus, we discovered Madalina’s hidden talent for Russian language- she was the only one who could communicate in Russian with the taxi driver Stanislav who didn’t speak English, although we all ended up having no problems understanding each other by the end of the day. There was one mercurial Russian word “remont” which remained the word of the day that seemed to be applied to everything.

Bartholomew equally amazed us with his curiosity in the politics of Kyrgyzstan and his ambition to learn the most necessary Russian words (‘privet’, ‘kak dela’, ‘spasiba’- he even took notes!). Speaking of Russian language and culture, Bruno has discovered that he likes music after all. He showed a real interest in the radio “friendly” oriental rhythms and an authentic passion for the songs in Tolstoy’s language. Our trip didn’t stop at Issyk Kul. We made sure that we didn’t miss one single place of worth around Bishkek.

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