More than 120 students, lecturers and guests gathered for the Willy Brandt School’s annual Welcome Reception on Monday, November 12th. The event took place in Erfurt’s town hall and served not only as a welcoming for the School’s 50 new students, but also as the official 2012 semester opening. At the reception, the students were welcomed by heads of the university and the Brandt School as well as by the Thuringian Minister of Justice, Dr. Holger Poppenhäger.
Photo Credit: Sohel Rana
In his welcome speech, the president of the University of Erfurt, Prof. Dr. Kai Brodersen, addressed the students, specifically pointing out the long tradition of university life in the city of Erfurt. The university of Erfurt dates back to the 14th century, a time when Erfurt was among few places where scholars from all over the world came together. Today the University of Erfurt strives to revive this tradition as a modern “purpose-built” university with a strong focus on the humanities and the social sciences.
Prof. Dr. Till Talaulicar, Vice-Dean of the “Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät” particularly appreciates the diversity of the Brandt School students as an asset to the faculty and to the university at large. In fact, the 50 MPP students from the class of 2014 come from 31 different countries, making it the most diverse in the history of the Brandt School. In regards to the Brandt School’s educational goals as an institution of higher learning, Prof. Dr. Florian Hoffmann, the Director of the Willy Brandt School, explained that in today’s changing world, there is a stronger need than ever to find answers to the challenges caused by the changes in political systems and democratic structures all over the world, and that the Brandt School strives to prepare its students to face these “tectonic shifts” and enable them to find solutions. In the keynote speech by Dr. Holger Poppenhäger, Thuringian Minister of Justice, this sentiment was confirmed with his practical experience as minister, but also as a member in the committee of regions in the European Union: “There is a great demand for what is taught at the Willy Brandt School: Applying theory to problems in new contexts”, he stated. The minister also emphasized the particular value that such an international student body has for Erfurt.
After the formal part of the reception, students, speakers, staff and lecturers mixed in the lobby, enjoying not only the food, drinks and music, but also the opportunity to make new contacts and to refresh old ties. Suaad Abdo, a first year student from Yemen, pointed out the importance of events like the Welcome Reception. “It is a perfect chance to meet all the new and old students. It is like a bridge that brings people together. Not just students, but also lecturers, administrative staff and external guests on an informal basis.”