Bush School International Affairs Students Study European Issues in Germany

September 14, 2016

Bush School Students on a study abroad trip to Germany


Students in the Master of International Affairs program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University,  recently had a unique opportunity to visit Germany and meet with high-ranking German foreign policy makers and academics. The fourteen-day program was led by Dr. Gabriela Marin Thornton and included stops in Berlin and Dresden. 

“This trip gave Bush School students a great opportunity to interact with high-ranking German policy makers and scholars to gain a better understanding of German foreign policy, security, and the current refugee crisis,” said Dr. Thornton.
The wide-ranging agenda included visits to the German Ministry of Defense, where the students met with the head of the policy department and former vice president of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service Bundesnachrichtendienst, Dr. Gezá von Geyr.  Topics for discussion included Germany’s new security policies and its new white paper on defense.

While in Berlin, the students also met with Thomas Volk, coordinator for Islam and the Dialogue between Religions at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), a prestigious think-tank. Volk briefed the group on the role of Islam in Germany and later discussed with students how the current migrant and refugee crisis is impacting Europe.  A visit to the German Chancellery included a meeting with German state secretary and coordinator of Intelligence Agencies, Klaus Dieter Fritsche, who led a discussion centered on cooperation among various intelligence agencies and its impact on combating terrorism.

US Ambassador John B. Emerson welcomed the students to the US Embassy and spoke with them about topics including NATO’s role in the new security environment. The group was also invited to the Berlin Parliament, where they had lunch and met with the two vice presidents of the Parliament: Andreas Gram (CDU) and Ms. Schillhaneck (the Green Party).  In Dresden, students took a guided tour and met with Geert Mackenroth, MdL, the Saxonian Parliament’s coordinator for Refugees and Migrants.

Other trip highlights included participating in a roundtable discussion on transatlantic security at the Free University Berlin, meeting with Patrick Lobis of the German Representation of the European Union, taking a Battle of Berlin tour led by Bush School international affairs professor Christopher Layne, and visiting a refugee camp.

“The program was an opportunity for the students to learn first-hand about German and European issues,” said Thornton.  “It was a remarkable educational experience for the students and truly broadened their perspective on European politics and security.”

“I am grateful to Dr. Hildegard Boucsein, a member of Texas A&M International Board, for her valuable help with this trip.”

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