Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meet Professor Doctor

SAIS Bologna would not be the institution it is without its faculty. Applicants often like to contact a professor to discuss the program. We encourage such communication. We thought it would be good to give some space in this blog to a faculty member to talk about what makes the place special for them. So meet Mahrukh Doctor, who is a visiting associate professor.

Mahrukh is a SAIS graduate and received her D.Phil. from Oxford. She speaks English, Hindi, Portuguese and German.


I have been an adjunct professor at SAIS Bologna for the past 5 years and this year I am Visiting Associate Professor. I taught two courses in the Fall Semester – one on Latin American Politics and the other an Introduction to Development. In the Spring Semester, I will teach a course on contemporary Brazil.

My Fall Semester classes had an excellent group of students – lively and full of questions. Just what I like, since it keeps me on my toes! Teaching a highly motivated group of students is always an interesting and rewarding experience. As an applicant, an important point to consider is that one of the best things about a SAIS education is the opportunity to learn from experienced professors (a mix of academics and practitioners) and from the diverse student body. The Bologna Center is particularly strong in this respect – both students and professors come from a wide variety of countries. In fact, I love to teach at Bologna precisely because of the mix of nationalities and life experience in the classroom.   

You are probably wondering what this means for you – the student. Most obviously, the class discussions benefit from the different academic backgrounds and work experience of many of the students. For example, my Development class had students from a number of countries: Italy, Germany, the UK, Austria, the U.S., Canada, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, China, South Korea, India, Nepal, Mexico, Argentina and Slovakia to name a few. They had work experience in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, India and many more developing countries. You can imagine what a good discussion this engenders both inside and outside the classroom.

Another important aim in my teaching is to get students to learn the practical skills relevant to their future careers.  Hence we have formal class debates and other assignments that develop such skills. For example, one of the graded assignments for the Development course was a group project that required students to make posters (later exhibited in the library) and to participate in a mini conference on the theme: Why Development Matters. Of course, these types of assignments not only develop professional skills, but also require you to learn about the relevant issues and lessons from the case studies reviewed.

Hope this gives you a flavour of what it is like to be a student here and how we, the professors, try to make your learning experience relevant, useful and enjoyable.

1 comment:

Ihssane said...

I highly enjoyed our chat on the phone several weeks back, as well as this exciting post. Thank you for that! I will certainly be looking forward to possibly being one of your students in the Introduction to Development course next Fall and joining the lively class discussions!