Alumni | Franz Josef Berger'18

Franz Josef

Why did you choose Middle East Studies at AUC?

I chose Middle East Studies at AUC for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to be based in the region that I am studying. Egypt belongs to the core of the Middle East and has been one of the centers of the wave of protests normally referred to as the Arab Spring. Being in Cairo allows you to combine theory (the academic knowledge in the classes) with practice (i.e. engaging with Egyptian colleagues in class or on campus, Egyptians that you meet in your private life etc.). Also, since I wanted to study Arabic at the same time, it was important for me to be in an Arabic speaking country. The second reason I chose AUC was the reputation of the university. AUC is among the best-rated universities in the Middle East. It is known for its high quality of teaching, and its progressive and liberal values.

What were the stand out experiences of your time at MESC?

What stands out for me are several things. Firstly, I appreciated the close contact with professors from all departments. All professors that I had were very accessible, always helpful and always ready to discuss with you when you needed, even outside their normal office hours. Secondly, I appreciated the campus and its facilities, particularly the library which is an excellent pool of resources for literature on the Middle East. Thirdly, I would also mention the high standards and requirements in class. Classes require a lot of reading, many presentations, papers etc. It is a lot of work. AUC pushes you to your limits. I particularly appreciated the classes that forced you to develop your own hypothesis and focused on academic reasoning. Lastly, I also appreciated the multi-disciplinary nature of the programme, particularly the ability to choose courses from a range of different AUC departments.

What changes would you like to see at MESC in future?

MESC is one of the smaller departments at AUC and could benefit from a larger group of students. I would hope that in the future, MESC will employ also professors that specialize in disciplines other than international relations, i.e. the history, comparative politics or sociology of the Middle East. I think the curriculum for the core course „Introduction to Middle Eastern Studies“ could still be tweaked a bit to reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of Middle Eastern Studies.