Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Coming to SAIS after bombarding superconductors

Students pursue different paths on their way to SAIS Bologna. Today Andreas Glossner of Germany tells us how he ended up here after studying Physics at university. In coming days other SAIS Bologna students will tell us how they landed here and why.

In my opinion, what sets SAIS apart is the right combination of breadth and depth in its curriculum: It equips students with a solid foundation in international relations as a political science while at the same time providing an interdisciplinary approach to the field.

After completing a master’s degree in Physics in Germany and Japan, that is what I was looking for in returning to graduate school. While the Energy, Resources and Environment concentration at SAIS means that I can build on my background in science, this does not mean I will have to do an “international relations light” program.

Andreas Glossner
Nuclear nonproliferation, climate change, resources: Some of the predominant challenges in international affairs stem directly from scientific issues. It is impossible to do basic or applied research without being aware of the overarching implications of science and technology.

In a way, I have always been fascinated by both worlds. While I majored in Physics, I started to take political science courses during my first year at university and participated in projects such as the National Model United Nations in New York. Just as political scientists at my university got used to this physicist in their midst, I left for Japan to research and study at Osaka University.

There, I spent the bulk of my time bombarding superconductors with terahertz radiation in the laboratory. But I also pursued interdisciplinary studies by contributing to a series of seminars on sustainability and energy. An internship at the German Embassy in Nairobi convinced me that a career in an international context would be the right match for me -- which is how I ended up here at SAIS Bologna as one of some 200 students eager to study Machiavelli and Mearsheimer.

The diversity of backgrounds that people bring to SAIS is fascinating and has its practical benefits: Have you ever wondered how the financial crisis affected Sri Lanka? Or why the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea has been relevant in the history of Libya?

An expert on such issues is more often than not nearby at SAIS.