Monday, March 7, 2011

Learning outside the classroom

As we've said before, the Bologna Center is fundamentally an academic program, but much learning happens outside the classroom. The Center attracts a large number of guests every year. Some come for a day to deliver a single lecture; others offer seminar series that can span several days or weeks. Speakers come from different fields and backgrounds, exposing students to a variety of viewpoints and specializations. Today our guest writer is Maria Kalina Oroschakoff. Kalina is a current student and an avid participant in the guest lectures and seminar series. Amina Abdiuahab

What do Kenneth Waltz, Gary Sick, Romano Prodi, Wolfgang Ischinger, Lloyd Minor, Mario Draghi, Fawaz A. Gerges and Josef Joffe have in common?

Each of them has come to the Bologna Center this year to give lectures or whole seminar series. They came for us. We did not have to share these speakers with 200 or 300 other listeners whom we did not know. These experts and policy makers came to speak to the Bologna Center and primarily for students.

Kenneth Waltz
 at SAIS Bologna
Since the audience is made up of  fellow students, teachers and staff, you are more comfortable and confident asking questions and engaging with the speakers. The Q&A sessions are an integral part of every lecture and often generate the real debates. Students have priority when it comes to asking questions. When ECB Governing Council member Mario Draghi came, the audience included many guests from outside the Center, but students were given the first crack at questions.

The setting allows personal contact with speakers, who are generally easy to approach after their talks for further questions. Some stay on for drinks at Giulio's bar. Some conversations can lead to long-term contacts and even internships opportunities.

Maria Kalina Oroschakoff
BC Class of 2011
Speakers are often willing to share their thoughts about their career path in more private settings. When Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations, came to the Center last autumn, he met with a small group of students to discuss his professional experience and career path following his graduation from the Bologna Center.

The Guest Lectures and Seminar Series complement and broaden the academic curriculum. Speakers come from a broad spectrum of academic and professional backgrounds, offering food for thought for students pursuing any concentration: global climate change, political and social developments in Yemen, post-conflict state-building in Bosnia, the consequences of the global financial crisis. 

I look forward to lectures on the crisis of authoritarian regimes in North Africa, a round-table on East Asian regional integration and a lecture series on nuclear politics. And these are drawn from the events schedule just for this coming week.

Maria Kalina Oroschakoff

No comments: