10 questions on our educational programme that you have always been wondering about
1) Why should students of political science be interested in your courses? What do technological
systems have to do with political science?
Why wouldn’t technology have anything to do with political science? Society and technology are not separate worlds. Just think of nuclear energy, genetically modified organisms or the so-called dark web: Technology creates both opportunities and challenges for societies that these need to address. Politics is the place where we discuss the uses, opportunities and risks of technologies. The question in today’s highly advanced society is how to shape our relationship with technology given the complexity of modern technology.
2) In high school, technology-related subjects such as physics or maths totally bored me off.
Does that mean that your courses are not an option for me?
No, not at all. You don’t need to be a technology buff to find our courses useful and interesting. In fact, we do not look at technology the way engineers do. Instead, we think about technology, and of our relationship to technology, as social scientists. This actually provides a whole new perspective on technology. That said, if you have always been interested in technology, you are obviously very welcome here, too.
3) I have no idea what job opportunities I would have when following courses in this program.
Who would hire me?
There are ample companies and governmental organizations out there that are in desperate need of people who are able to bridge the gaps between politics, technology and society. Think about how big engineering firms cooperate with governments to decide about future technologies or about current standards. Or think about the regulatory bodies at the EU-level, who need to understand how technologies are used in order to regulate them properly. We would like to argue that it is increasingly important that people possess the ability to connect these different worlds. We offer the tools for that.
4) But technology is all about smartphones and such, isn’t it?
Smartphones are certainly technologies close to us. But there is so much more, much of it unseen because we have gotten used to it. Consider artificial fertilizer and food production, or energy generation, or medical technology, or… We don’t’ mind talking about smartphones but we believe that the list of interesting and relevant topics is much, much broader than that.
5) So, can any political scientist join your course?
Why, yes, of course. And not only political scientist but e.g. also sociologists, economists, students of business administration, and, indeed, engineers.
6) Do I need to be good at math or something like that?
It helps but we don’t ask more from you than is asked in other programs in political science in Bamberg.
7) All your courses are taught in English. I feel unsure, whether my level of English is sufficient
to successfully complete your courses. Is there any chance you will offer a course in
A simple reason for offering our courses in English is that a good deal of the literature we study is not available in German and some key concepts such as ‘governance’ and ‘policy’ do not translate well. We also believe that in today’s connected world it is of paramount importance that you develop the ability to switch back and forth between languages. Your future employers will expect you to be able to express yourself in both German and English. Another, more complex reason is that we do not want to foster the vicious circle of you feeling unsure about your English, hence avoiding courses taught in English and thereby still feeling unsure about your English. Having an open mind for such complexity-informed arguments is what will get you good grades in our courses, not your language skills.
8) I have heard that your courses are primarily taught in the computer lab. Is that true?
No. Most of our courses are taught in totally normal seminar rooms and most sessions do not require any computer at all. Yet, we do offer focused courses such as “Computer-Aided Social Inquiry” that provide interested students with the tools for making the best use of computers for social science purposes – this course, obviously, is taught in the computer lab. Don’t be afraid of the lab, it has the best air conditioning of all the buildings at the FeKi!
9) Why should I go to your seminar sessions, when I can just do my readings at home and focus
People learn much better when they actively engage with the subject matter at hand. This is why in the seminar sessions, we do not only provide you with summaries of the readings. Instead, we make use of highly interactive teaching methods such as problem-based learning (PBL) that enable you to discuss with others the knowledge inputs from the readings, and take them to a higher level by addressing concrete problems and linking them to real-life examples. In many ways, PBL is much closer to the real situations you will encounter in your future career than any other type of learning. Moreover, following individual sessions only will never allow you to see the big picture of a course, which is more than the sum of its components.
10) Isn’t everything kind of “complex” these days?
In fact, not everything that is difficult to handle is ‘complex’, albeit the word is often used this way in everyday language. Yet, ticking the right boxes in a bureaucratic form is complicated, but not complex: the process as such is quite linear and straightforward, the individual components can often be understood and completed independent of each other (and if not, the links are often made explicit), and so the end result well predictable. If now you want to learn more about what actually is complex, joining our courses might be a good start!