Students flock to European politics program in Germany

By Samantha Perpignand | Emory in the World | Sep. 17, 2012

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Assistant Professor of Political Science Drew Linzer describes the landscape of German politics.

Even though Emory students can be found studying abroad on six continents any time of year, more and more of them are heading to Berlin to study European politics. This summer, 26 students enrolled in the program, the most in its history.

Until two years ago the program was based in Paris, but the escalating expense led then-director Tom Remington to explore other cities with the same cultural saturation and political vibrancy. Scott Schorr — a 2012 Emory College graduate who participated in the program not once but twice — likens the new Berlin experience to the U-Bahn, the German rail system. Like rapid transport, the program shuttles students across many diverse cities, ideas, and institutions.

"Berlin is a multicultural, cosmopolitan, and progressive hub of Europe," he said. "But Berlin is just the starting point for interacting with the modern European Union. During my two years, our group was fortunate to visit Brussels, Prague, Budapest, Dublin, Amsterdam, and The Hague, in addition to Berlin."

During four weeks of instruction at the Hertie School of Governance, students learn about human rights, comparative judicial politics, and economic decision making in the European Union. But what sets the program apart are the site visits students take across Europe, seeing national and regional institutions and meeting with politicians and policymakers.

"Our very first site visit was a trip to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp right outside Berlin, for our Human Rights in Europe class," said Nandita Balakrishnan 14C, who attended last year’s program. "I had never before gone to a place that actually made me feel physically ill until I went here. It was both horrifying and enlightening. This place makes you reflect on your own life and contributions. You can really envision the suffering the people who stayed here felt. Though the trip definitely left me feeling sad, in retrospect it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. It made me think."

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