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Student Reports of Autumn School 2017

Myriell Fußer, M.A. International Development Studies (IDS)

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Foto: Asadullah

"It was a great experience to be part of the Tehran Autumn School 2017. For me, it was especially interesting to get to know the circumstances of Iranian social policy. I liked the critical discussions of quantitative and qualitative methods from different points of views. Therefore I really appreciated that the participants had different disciplinary backgrounds such as sociology and economy or interdisciplinary fields of study. Most enriching for me were the encounters with the Iranian students and the possibility to talk with them about academic topics, but also to get to know Iranian their personal view on everyday life. Many thanks to all of you for showing us beautiful places in Tehran, sharing the delicious Iranian food and helping us with everything!"

Oluwaseun Alo, M.Sc. Economics and Institutions (EconInst)

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Foto: Asadullah

"I would like to use this medium first to thank the organisers for the way they conducted the event right from the preparation till the end of the program. During the program, various topics on social policies and other related issues in oil based economies most especially in Iran were dissected with the discussion providing an insight on how oil curse can be turned into blessings in these regions. I was able to expand my knowledge and gained skills on how to think critically on economic issues most especially when the professors and guests addressed critical questions raised by the participants. In the course of the event, we were able to interact with some Iranian students and understand their concerns and life perspective particularly in relation to Iranian educational and governmental systems. These students also were very open, caring and ready to offer any assistance to make us have a pleasant stay. We visited some cultural attractions in Tehran and have a glimpse of the history, art and culture. One of the most astounding places we visited was the Islamic Revolution & Holy Defense Museum designed for the Islamic Revolution (1979) and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and this provided a deeper understanding of the cost and damaging effects associated with governance and war. It was also impressive for us to move freely with a high feeling of security and it was unimaginable to see the level of people’s hospitality and social trust. Getting to understand other people’s culture and structural factors that influence human behaviour in general as well as other educational intuitions make the program a life changing experience for me."

 Janek Riedel, M.Sc. Economic Geography 

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Foto: Privat

"Being part of the NAREM Autumn School in Tehran this year offered a great opportunity to better understand the role social policy plays within a country that is shaped by its availability of natural resources. The lectures at the University of Tehran held by both, German and Iranian students and professors fit perfectly with my background as an economic geographer. The subsequent discussions were highly engaging and informative, particularly when it came to arguments about qualitative and quantitative methods. As a student in economic geography it was insightful to discuss with students coming from a variety of disciplines, such as Middle East studies, political science or economics. This combination of scientific fields allowed me to understand issues that I deal with in my studies from different perspectives, set in the context of the MENA region and Iran. Particularly the Iran Social Policy Forum, held on the fourth day of the program, offered an opportunity to dig deeper in some critical issues. For instance, how the oil curse can actually lead to social welfare and what the main obstacles in this context are. Following the official part of the daily program, there was always a chance to meet people from the University of Tehran and the University of Mashhad, where they shared about their lives in Tehran. This was a great way to get an idea about the concerns of Iranian students and how they perceive current developments in Iran. A free day and an excursion at the end of the autumn school was a chance to dig deeper into Iranian culture and history. By visiting the military museum and some of the bazaars, enjoying the outstanding Iranian cuisine or simply walking through Tehran we could experience this impressive, fast and lively city. In summary, it was an intense and rewarding week. I had the chance to not only expand my knowledge about the MENA Region and Iran, but also see different approaches to scientific studies dealing with the nexus of social policy and natural resources. It also allowed me to improve my skills in critical thinking and provided the opportunity to develop many contacts with Iranian students, who were very hospitable and welcoming."

Anja Peschel, M.A. International Development Studies  (IDS)

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Foto: Asadullah

"In October 2017, I had the possibility to take part in the NAREM Autumn School on „Social Policies in Oil-based economies“. It was a great pleasure to attend the range of lectures, covering different aspects around the topic of the Autumn school. We started the week at Teheran University with different lectures of professor, as well as presentations held by both, Iranian and German PhD, Master and Bachelor students. Especially the questions and discussions raised after each of the presentation were highly informative. The mixture of students with diverse backgrounds such as Economics, Politics or Social Studies, added interesting point of views to each of the topics. On our fourth day we attended the “Social Policy-Forum” which also took place at the Teheran University. Again, different aspects and topics enriched our knowledge and perspectives. The program was complemented by one day to get to know Tehran’s bazaar and Golestan-Palace by ourselves, as well as one excursion to the Holy Defense Museum. Besides the interesting lectures, it was a great opportunity to get to know fellow Iranian students and not only learn about their opinions, but also about the everyday-life in Iran. All in all, it was a very well organized experience with a great deal of hospitability and care, for which we are very thankful."

Julius Dihstelhoff, Ph.D. Student in Political Science (Department of Politics of the Near and Middle East)

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Foto: Adrian Pourviseh

"Overall, I have expanded my scholarly and international horizons by attending the NAREM’s Autmn School 2017 in Tehran, on two main levels: On the one hand, in retrospect I see my participation at the Autmn School as an opportunity for a direct personal exchange between Iranian and German scholars in the spirit of the DAAD: “a dialogue through professional co-operation”. Moreover, the Autmn School was an opportunity for me to enrich my scholarly and pedagogical work at the University of Marburg. In my discipline of Political Science, I deal directly with the effects of the Arab Spring on the changing regional and international ordering of the MENA-region – a process in which Iran continues to play a central role. That’s why a further impetus for my work was the expansion of my expertise on Iran specifically, as well as the school’s guiding theme “Social Policy in Oil Based Economies”. On the other hand, I had the opportunity offered by the Autumn School to visit Iran and to develop a firsthand feeling for the country. It had been a great pleasure to develop personal contacts with individual Iranian students. It was fascinating how quickly a friendly contact with them was established. I could only respond to their hunger for academic and personal exchange. Furthermore, Iran’s unique and rich cultural heritage has provided me with a valuable insight into the significant civilizational history of the country beyond my discipline. All in all, it was an enrichment in the interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange on a professional and private level!"

Asad Ullah, M.Sc. Economics and Institutions  (EconInst)

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Foto: Privat

"Our one week was fully packed with interesting lectures by eminent professors, student presentations and intense discussions. A variety of topics were discussed by learned faculty members including Social Policy and Poverty Alleviation in Iran, Middle Class in Iran: Oil Shocks and Political Development, Challenges of Youth Policy in Iran and other topics pertaining to Iran and Middle East. Presentations from Iranian students were equally interesting and it really helped me to understand the student’s perspective on contemporary issues. Topics including Employment and Gender Issues, Urban and Housing Challenges in Iran really helped me to get an idea about the common issues in Iran. During the whole course of time, I had a chance to interact with the Iranian students. They were very kind, friendly and their hospitality was one of the character, that I cannot express in my words. Beside from lectures and presentations we had an opportunity to explore the capital city of Iran. I am convinced that Tehran is a city where past and present bumps into each other. An energetic, loud, chaotic and cutting-edge city, the Iranian capital is home to 15 million people, with audacious fashion, art galleries, restaurants, bazars and cafes. We went to different museums which were swarming with ancient treasures. Tehran is a home of splendid places, inspiring mosques, and melodramatic government buildings. It will not be wrong to comment that Tehran is one of the brightest gems in the Middle East. Before going to Iran, I heard a lot about their food and according to me, the best way to taste the food is to visit the place. Iranian architecture is implausible, one of my memorable visit was Golestan palace, a complex of 17 halls, museums and palaces, each of the hall presents visitors with something new and wonderful to discover. To encapsulate, I am truly humbled to the bodies who organized such an incredible learning event especially DAAD, CNMS University of Marburg, and Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tehran. Overall my experience from this tour was incredible which helped me to learn a lot about Iran from a different lens. In my point of view, this kind of academic exchange should be appreciated and remain in the continuous process to promote multi-cultural activities."

Nils Christian Hönow, Ph.D. Student in Economics (Chair of Development and Cooperative Economics)

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Foto: Adrian Pourviseh

"The NAREM autumn school in Tehran was an invaluable opportunity for its participants to not only expand their academic knowledge but also to learn about the country, its culture and people and to build their own opinion. During the first four days of the school there was a strong academic focus. Interesting presentations were being held by professors and students over the whole day. Most of the topics had an economic background and usually a focus on the region. After each presentation, discussions followed. Here, it was particularly enriching that there were participants from various academic backgrounds, such as economics, politics and other disciplines. We were able to have lively discussions, hearing contributions from different points of view and not only about the presented topics but also about research methodology and policy relevance. In the evenings, after class, we had some time to explore the city of Tehran. Local students were always accompanying us, which was awesome as they could show us around and take us to the best spots and restaurants. It also gave us the opportunity to get to know each other better. It was fascinating to hear from them first-hand what life in Iran looks like, about their dreams and future plans and how the Iranian society works. And it turned out that Iranian people are indeed unbelievably friendly and hospitable. Without their help it would have been so much more difficult to visit places and find our way in the megacity of Tehran. We visited the Milad Tower and went to traditional restaurants together. They also came with us on the last two days when we were visiting the bazaar, the Golestan Palace, the Holy Defense Museum and made a short trip to the northern mountains. I also wish to thank the DAAD, all organizers, professors and participants to make this amazing event possible and strongly encourage future students to apply for following schools!"