SIU: Course you are teaching this month?
Prof. Studzinska: The course I am currently teaching is on American Foreign Policy. We basically review all important actors that have a say in either the foreign policy formulation or implementation. Obviously we focus the debate around the President of the United States, but we also discuss the role played by the advisors, bureaucracies, lobbies as well as the media and public opinion. Even though this course focuses on the historic values and beliefs in American foreign affairs, I personally make it my priority to always relate to current events, and a portion of my lectures are indeed dedicated to current issues. And there is one for everyone’s taste: the Iran nuclear deal, the follow-up on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the COP21, Syria and Daesh… I feel it’s important for our students to be able to use the theories and put them into practice, and of course it is always more appealing to do so on a matter you are familiar with.
What can a student attending this course expect in the classroom?
-Attending this course is definitely a challenge for the students, they need a solid background in Political Science, and above all, they have to know their authors and the theories in the field of IR. Part of my job is to make sure that none of them falls behind, and that’s why I always try to alternate lectures, debate, and activities. It usually includes role play or things like organizing a Model UN, and of course I often add interactive content that I found on platforms that the students are familiar with like Youtube or Instagram. In the future I would like to add educational trips connected with American Foreign Policy, but that has to be planned in advance, and really match the course description and objectives.
What do you like about teaching at Schiller?
– Teaching in Schiller is very rewarding for me, and as much as I get to do my dream job here, I also have a wonderful opportunity to be challenged by the wonderful diversity of students. I have had the chance to teach in several countries in Europe, the United States and Asia, but none of my previous experience matches the internationalism that one finds in Schiller, it is simply unique. The administration is also there for all of us, faculty and students, and I can assure you that they know how to get things done properly and efficiently. This spirit of community is rare and precious at the university level, and we should all consider ourselves lucky.
What do you see as the advantages of the monthly system?
– Schiller’s monthly system might seem unusual at the beginning, but I personally find it very adapted to the school’s philosophy and quite modern frankly. Having the students for yourself during a whole month gives you plenty of opportunities to build a personal relationship with them and carefully observe the progress they make in your discipline. Our students have a real chance to be trained for their future career one course at a time, which gives them enough time to master the contents of a specific matter, instead of just learning to pass an exam.