Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Ulrich Brückner, IES Abroad Berlin

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IES Abroad
February 17, 2016

Study abroad BerlinDr. Ulrich “Uli” Brückner has been an instructor with IES Abroad Berlin since 2002. In 2009, he was awarded IES Abroad’s “Instructor of the Year Award” in recognition of his dedication, creativity, and ability to inspire through his teaching.

Dr. Brückner works with the European Commission, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Agency for Civic Education, and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin. He studied Political Science, German Literature, and History at the University of Würzburg and the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. His Ph.D. from FU Berlin was on the role of the European Commission in the policy-making of the EU. Dr. Brückner has given several interviews with Al Jazeera, published three books, and has served as a keynote speaker.

IES Abroad: What courses can study abroad students take with you in Berlin? 

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Dr. Ulrich Brückner: Depending on the program, there are several courses offered that IES Abroad students can enroll in within the fields of Economics, International Relations, Political Science, and International Business:

IES Abroad: From 1992 until 2002, you worked at the Freie Universität Berlin as a lecturer, and later as the Jean Monnet Chair. What is a Jean Monnet Chair?

UB: A Jean Monnet Chair is a teaching post for university faculty with a specialization in European Studies, or in my case, European Integration. In 2003, I was also appointed EU Jean Monnet Professor at Stanford University, and taught at both the Berlin and California campuses. 

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IES Abroad: You've also taught at Beloit College in Wisconsin through IES Abroad’s Faculty in Residence program. Where else have you taught as a visiting professor?

UB: I’ve also served as a visiting professor at East China Normal University (ECNU) and Fudan University in Shanghai, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Sabanci University in Istanbul, the University for Economics in Bratislava, and the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.

IES Abroad: You have particular interest in the fields of European Integration, Cultural Policy, and Diplomacy. What are some of the most pressing challenges you see with European Integration in the 21st Century?

UB: European integration has always been confronted with crises, and most of the time, such challenges were successfully used to improve the project of a United Europe. In 2016, we face not only a sovereign debt crisis with big socio-economic problems in many member states of the EU, a refugee crisis, a crisis of political extremism and growing nationalism, a possible Brexit, war in Ukraine, and terrorism on European soil, to only mention the biggest problems.

What I see as the most pressing challenge is the possibility that the European Union could be seen as the problem and not the solution.

IES Abroad: You have given six interviews with Al Jazeera on European Union and German developments related to the debt and refugee crises. What is something most people don’t realize about these crises?

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UB: The main misperception of the refugee crisis lies in the idea that national solutions could be possible. Like any other oversimplification of complex problems this might be understandable emotionally, but practically only common European solutions have a chance to work.

IES Abroad: What has been the most interesting question you’ve received from a student in one of your IES Abroad program courses? What was your response?

UB: The most interesting question I can recall would be, "With your experience, connections, and qualifications you could do so many things—why do you spend your time with American undergrads?" My response to that question was, “Because I love to watch students growing, changing their horizons, and helping them to make a difference."

IES Abroad: You’ve been IES Abroad’s Instructor of the Year, the Jean Monnet Chair on European Integration, published three books, served as a keynote speaker, and led several seminars. What has been your proudest achievement?

UB: I am really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in my life, and all the support I’ve received. I feel very lucky and privileged, but I do not think about my life in terms of pride. It feels vain. I am happy if I can make a contribution to understand this world a bit better, and if I can give a helping hand to the next generation.

We are proud to have Dr. Brückner as a part of the IES Abroad faculty—apply to one of our Berlin study abroad programs for a chance to learn from him!


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