The new MIR year begins
The second term of the 2017-2018 academic year in the Master in International Relations (MIR) at IE University is underway after the winter break –new courses, professors and groups yet the same thrilling class dynamics. Behind we leave the first three months which have been quite intense, with plenty of work, great lectures, and mesmerizing developments in global politics and economics.
Sadly, our two good friends Mike from the United States and Nick from Germany, exchange students during the first trimester, left back to France and Switzerland to wrap up their studies. They are already missed but are still very present in room E-109 in Maria de Molina 2. As are some of the many good friends we have made through the courses, including Bretton Woods, the Gold Standard, Thomas Hobbes, Hannah Arendt, Kenneth N. Waltz, Dani Rodrik and many of the Nobel Peace Prize recipients, among many others.
Interestingly enough, the first term, was set against the backdrop of Spain’s deepest political crisis in 40 years. The instability caused by the secession movement in Catalonia, led by regional leaders, and the challenge it has created for the government and the European Union, is a topic we have followed closely in our classes. Among the several seminars that took place in the convulsive last months of 2017 we gained some international and local perspective on the issue.
On the one hand Ibrahim Al-Marashi, Associate Professor of Middle East History at California State University San Marcos, shared his views on the independence movement by comparing to the other secessionist movement that starred last year and led to the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum and contextualizing it to the terrorist attacks carried out by Daesh (or Isis), specifically one in Barcelona on August 17th.
On the other, Francisco de Borja Lasheras, Director of the Madrid Office and policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and Diego Rubio, Professor of Applied History and Global Governance at the IIE School of Global and Public Affairs and Executive Director of the Center for the Governance of Change, ran a seminar focusing on Catalan secessionism in times of populism and European integration. We also had the pleasure to have as a guest speaker Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization who spoke about travel, sustainability and more in a changing world.
The courses have been useful for better understanding policy making as well as developing new ways of looking at the world. The significant and all encompassing events that took place on an international level during the year framed many of the courses and the debates in class. Specifically the rise of antiestablishment political parties across the globe, the future of technology, Xi-Jingping’s all out control on power (and its quest to become the global hegemon?), the victory of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel in national elections (despite the freithing rise of the AfD in Germany’s Budnestag, the deposition of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe as well as the social, and cultural, changes taking place led by the #Metoo movement.
Before we go, don’t want to be late to class, the group of students, MIR´s 2018 intake, has enjoyed some fun times in Madrid. We have been enchanted with some great party dinners and excellent national dishes; by a flamenco dancing night to remember; many study room laughs; some impressive Halloween customs; as well day and weekend trips. Can’t forget to mention the birthday celebrations that took place as well as the inspiring moustaches that many students wore showing strong support for the Movember Foundation. Now it’s time to get back to the readings!