Wednesday, 25 January 2012

SAIS Bologna Seminar Series – “how interesting it’s been to be a part of it all”

Yesterday we talked about the courses that will be offered in the upcoming Spring semester. We also mentioned that the new term will feature new speakers and seminar series. Today, we thought we'd ask Kathryn Knowles, who works at the Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR), to give our readers an overview of the opportunities our students will have to learn from some of the world's leading experts. 

Kathryn Knowles 
The seminar series at the Bologna Center is an important complement to the academic program. At least two times a week students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to participate in seminars with leading scholars and practitioners from all over Europe and beyond. Seminars are organized into ten broad thematic categories as varied as the SAIS curriculum, from economics to history to Middle East studies. Different faculty members host each series and students are encouraged to actively participate in the lively question and answer session following each 45-minute presentation.

Last week one of the student research assistants at the Bologna Institute for Policy Research wrote me an e-mail reflecting on his experience working with the Institute to create summary reports of and three-question interviews with guest speakers this fall: “While writing the summary for the Libya roundtable the other night I took a second to email an excerpt to my family -- the part about Prodi -- just because it seemed to capture how interesting it's been to be a part of it all, even just as a notetaker.” Here the student was referring to the presence of Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission and ex-Italian prime minister, as a member of the audience during a January evening seminar. During the Q&A Professor Prodi shared his own personal experiences dealing with Gaddafi and his opinions about how the international negotiations were handled. It was one of those “SAIS moments” made possible by the richness of the seminar series and the great student interest in learning outside the classroom.

The seminar series continues this spring with some very exciting guests and topics. Two special three-part series begin in February, one with Professor Adrian Lyttleton on “East and West in Global History: The Great Debate” and one with Marco Montanari, Analyst with the European Union Police (EUPOL) Mission to Afghanistan entitled “The Electoral Dimension of International Relations”. These two examples illustrate the uniqueness of the seminar series, students have the possibility to have small-group interactions with both academics and practitioners on a vast range of topics in international relations, from historical analysis to the technical aspects of implementing policy today. In March guest speakers will discuss the Eurozone crisis, Kosovo, nuclear non-proliferation, and China, just to name a few. Also in the line-up this spring is a series of faculty-author book presentations to be held at Feltrinelli International in Bologna, a great way for students to support their professors in their original research.