Alumni Newsletter


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Alumni Newsletter December 2011

*Holiday greetings from the Center for Global Politics*




CGP General

Dear readers

Hello and welcome to the final Alumni Newsletter of 2011!

There was a sudden temperature drop in Berlin. The last rays of golden sunlight have been choked by a thick layer of grey cloud and in the morning leaves, trees and cars are covered in a crispy coating of ice. Christmas lights illuminate the dark, which creeps in almost directly after breakfast, while wooden sheep and angel figures spy on freezing pedestrians from behind store windows. There's simply no denying it anymore: Winter is moving in fast and the year 2011 is coming to an end. And since the end of year is always a good moment for reflection we would like to share some Alumni stories and news from the past months.

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The global financial crisis exposes the need for large-scale changes in our political and financial systems, and modernization should thus be on the top of the agenda all over the world. But in different contexts the word ‘modernization’ can have quite different connotations.

The current CGP Alumni NL presents a broad selection of views and articles from our alumni and external experts. Our alumni Ashley Fitzpatrick from the US and Bahaa Aldeen AlQudah from Jordan discuss how modernization changed the role of religion in Muslim societies. And Professor Takeshi Hamashita from Japan is interviewed by our Chinese alumna Guan Jian about modernization in China. Modernization, the forces of resistance and revolts, and the pursuing of escapist strategies it seems, are global issue indeed.

 Our interest towards this topic was further triggered by the recent Alumni Ambassadors workshop in Saint Petersburg, which focused on different approaches to modernization in Russia. You can read an interview on this topic with Professor Vladimir Gelman, who participated in the workshop. In addition, inspired by her trip in Russia, alumna Monika Bixho compares how modernization works in larger and smaller countries using the example of Russia and Albania. Finally, alumna of CGP Seasonal School – Greece- Lale Azak from Turkey writes a follow-up article to the workshop’s debate about the actors of modernization– she describes how the elite classes in Turkey push for changes in their country.


In addition to its focus on modernization, this CGP Alumni NL also looks at the newly founded CGP Alumni Association. In an interview, the Associations President Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk shares her vision of the network. The Association is of particular interest to the alumni because the first General Meeting is scheduled for 2012. Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk also describes her travelling experiences with two Hermitage museums in Amsterdam and Saint Petersburg.

 On the regional level we had a series of interesting events in Beijing, Shanghai and Moscow – see reports on them in the NL. If you yourself would like to organize similar alumni events in your region then be proactive and turn to your regional alumni coordinator with your ideas! By the way, we now have an interactive map of our alumni contacts in major regions – find it on the website:


In this edition, the editorial team also puts emphasis on the alumni’s future professions. The career theme of this NL is international organizations. Our alumna Monika Bixho, who currently works for the ‘Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’ (OSCE) in Albania, shares her experience with us. You can also read the article by another alumna, Birgit Holthaus, about the new UN policy ‘Responsibility to Protect’ introduced by the organization during the recent crisis in Libya.

 We wish you the very best for this year and the next, and we are as always happy to hear from you with fresh ideas, criticism, suggestions or news! And please feel free to contact us if you wish to contribute your articles to the next issue!

Season’s Greetings & enjoy reading the newsletter!                       

Your editorial team



IR Online (source: CGP Team)Bahaa Aldeen AlQudah is an alumnus of Global Politics Seasonal School Amman, 2011. Now he has moved to Mittweida in Germany to do his M.A. Source: private

The Paradox of Islam? Modernizing Religion

Interview by Ashley Simpson Fitzpatrick, IR Online Alumna 2011 with Bahaa Aldeen AlQudah

It is important to note that modernization in the Middle East also implies religious aspects. The CGP Alumni from Amman, Bahaa Aldeen AlQudah, shared his inside vision of the recent changes within the Muslim society. In focus of his research are the twin issues of Islam as a religion and the Jihad Culture of political enlistment in Muslim societies, which continue to uneasily coexist in seemingly irreconcilable ways and occupy much of the (western) media’s attention.

1. Can a globalized generation move beyond entrenched political culture?

Vast changes are underway in the Arab societies around the world today: Reproduction rates have fallen and marriage is being delayed, women are becoming major participants in academic institutions and in world markets, and gender equality - in terms of education and income - is improving. Mobile phones, satellite television, the internet, and a range of other communication technologies are widely available and increasingly used by young people to forge new global connections and networks among groups and individuals. This new generation, described as a “peer generation,” resists being part of a society that is incapable of handling the challenges facing today’s globalized world.

2. How do these new trends affect the political sphere?

Increasingly, Arab youth are demanding independence and are rejecting holistic ideas - whether Islamist or nationalist - much to the dismay and obvious disappointment of political Islamists. After all, Islamist parties depend on (political) ignorance to perpetuate their conception of an “Islamic state.” (…) Specifically, the Muslim Brotherhood is challenged by those who feel entitled to democracy. These challengers will no longer accept an ideologically driven monopoly on decision making by “neo-fundamentalists” who argue that only a firm personal comeback to the right principles of spiritual practice can create an “Islamic society.” Even among followers of Islam, the young generations renounce blind obedience. Indeed, they are more loyalist than nationalist, and call for debate, freedom, democracy, and good governance. Importantly, they demand democracy not as a result of attempts to transplant Western-style democracy as has been perpetuated by supporters of the US-led war in Iraq, but instead, as a consequence of globalization.

3. What is a modern (and moderate) interpretation of religiosity?

There are two premises underpinning the debate on Islam: 1) that democratization is related to secularization and 2) that this process of secularization should lead to the rise and spread of liberal Islam. The ongoing re-Islamization of Muslim societies, that began and became first observable some 30 years ago, is illustrated today by the spread of the practice of veiling (alhijab), rising mosque attendance, and Islamization of daily life, and so on, and appears to be at odds with so-called liberal Islam and secularization. However, this is not necessarily so since this wave of re-Islamization contains a frequently overlooked but critical trend: Religion has not changed, but religiosity (the way the believer experiences his or her faith) has, and this new religiosity, liberal or otherwise, is compatible with democratization. Modern religiosity unlinks personal faith from collective identity, tradition, and external authority, where religion is a matter of personal choice. Indeed, religion has become a matter of personal choice, ranging from Salafism to any kind of syncretism, not to mention conversions to other religions (see, for instance, the growth of an evangelical Protestant church among former Muslims in Morocco and Algeria).

4. What are the consequences of this new approach to religion in the Muslim world?

This individualization and diversification has resulted in what is perhaps the unexpected consequence of removing religion and modern religiosity from daily politics, and bringing it back into the private sphere, thus excluding religion from the sphere of government.

IR Online (source: CGP Team)Vladimir Gelman is Professor at Department of Political Science and Sociology and Research Fellow at the Center for Modernization Studies, European University at St. Petersburg (EUSP).  Source: private


Political Modernization in Russia: Why, How, When…?

by Vitaliya Tsarik

An Interview with Professor Vladimir Gelman

At the recent CGP Alumni workshop, Professor Vladimir Gelman of the European University at St. Petersburg (EUSP) described the present situation in Russia as a “dead-end” for modernization, at least until the current generation of Russian rulers leave. As he showed in his presentation, the success scenarios of some authoritarian regimes are unlikely to be copied in Russia. Therefore political modernization is needed for full-scale modernization of Russia.

1. What should come first to launch real modernization in Russia: political or economic modernization? Is there a “cause-effect” relation between them?

Economic modernization doesn’t automatically follow political modernization. But without political reforms the only hope for modernization is linked to an authoritarian ruler’s personal wish. And in fact without political competition there are no incentives for those in power to launch modernization.

2. Then what is needed to start political modernization in Russia?

First, the freedom of association should be restored. Today it’s almost impossible to establish a political party. High entry barriers to the political market make political competition impossible. Second, parliament should take a decision-making role instead of being a mere place for discussion. This might require constitutional change in order to make the government accountable before the parliament. 

3. To what extent does the EU-Russian “Partnership for Modernization” contribute to modernization in Russia?

This program promotes certain innovative projects – mainly in the field of technology and infrastructure. But this won’t bring about a full-scale modernization. Externally driven modernization is possible in two ways: A country may launch modernization as a response to its competition with other countries under the threat of becoming laggards or of being taken over. A country may be guided to modernization by a stronger partner. This was the case for some East European countries which entered the EU. Such a scenario in Russia would be possible only if the state were to collapse and to be divided among several regions, but this will not occur in the foreseeable future.

4. Now Putin is expected to become the next Russian president after the 2012 elections – how will this influence Russian modernization policy?

Not much will be changed. Modernization will be simply less discussed in the media – that’s it. Modernization in Russia doesn’t depend on swaps between those two politicians. It is more likely to be triggered by economic challenges – for example, in case of deep and protracted recession. 

You find more information on Vladimir Gelman -


Size Matters? Different Countries – Different Shells: Russia and Albania

by Monika Bixho  

To date, there has been a lot of ado about Russia's "failed" democratization and modernization efforts. Less has been said about those little failures that happen here and there. It is by now widely accepted knowledge that more than two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia still lacks a functional pluralistic system. In terms of democratic qualities, Russia is not to be distinguished from other semi-authoritarian countries in its immediate or non-immediate vicinity; what distinguishes Russia is, and has always been, its sheer size. Russia's huge quantitative edge makes it, whether willingly or unwillingly, one of the world's prime benchmarks for gauging semi-authoritarianism.

 Also, it springs to one's mind that because of its enormity, Russia does not really try that hard to create a solid democratic façade, whilst other countries, which are at least as authoritarian as Russia, actually do try, with varying success. Russia's modest attempts to promote its even more modest democratic achievements constitute an interesting subject of study. It looks indeed as if some queer inverse function regulates the democratic propaganda of semi-authoritarianism: The bigger the state, the smaller the attempt at a total cover-up.

 In my opinion, smaller countries that are more dependent on foreign aid, and more responsive - at least outwardly - to EU foreign policy paradigms tend to specialize in perfecting their outer democratic shells. Larger countries tend to be less prone to be perfectly democratic; in terms of outer appearances. It is harder for them to do so and also harder for them to try to do so. Nevertheless, the respective amount of justifiable despair amongst the average democrat living in small and large semi-autocracies is pretty much the same. One can maintain, just for the sake of illustration, that in terms of an authoritarian core, Albania is one of the smaller matrioskas that perfectly fits into a large specific type of matrioska –Russia being the largest of them all.


Political Modernization Along With Westernization in Turkey

by Lale Azak

Today, we know of countries that declare “modernization” as their top priority, but in practice they leave out an important dimension - political modernization. Political elites are not ready to change the current situation because of the fear of losing power.

In the case of Turkey´s modernization process, this was different. Ataturk founded the Turkish Republic as a “modern” country in social, economic and political aspects. “Modernization” has become the core issue on the agenda since the foundation of the Turkish Republic. The most relevant characteristics of the modern political system in Turkey are the following: Separation of powers; secularism (even if the majority of the population is Muslim); legitimization of power by democratic procedures; the mass participation in the political system; and an enhanced political administrative capacity to guarantee the requirements of modernity.

With these aspects, Turkey is an example of a country which successfully achieved political modernization, Westernization and secularism. Turkey’s success is the result of its choice to adopt Westernization - its foreign policy objective - since the beginning. Recently, Turkey´s EU candidacy gave incentive for more political reforms in the country. Today however, many experts note that Turkey - EU relations are losing dynamism. It is not because Turkey turns its back on the West. It is because Turkey would like to be a modern state which embraces many influences from beyond its borders, including the East and the West.

Alumni Events


EES Online (Source: Approved Letter by anankkml)Alumni Mr. TIAN Jianming (Camel), Ms. YANG Xiaoping (Lina), Ms. HUO Mojing, Mr. SHI Xin, Ms. ZENG Li, Ms. LU Yan, and HOU Ziqiang at the Alumni event in Beijing with Prof. Klaus Segbers and guest speaker Ms. Frauke Austermann. Source: HOU Zigiangis

Beijing CGP Alumni Discuss EU-China Relations at the Alumni Event

by HOU Ziqiang

The party held by the Beijing Alumni of Center for Global Politics Summer School took place in the Café Peanut near the China Academy of Social Sciences on August 20, 2011.  Professor Klaus Segbers, Ms. Frauke Austermann (a speaker and lecturer for this year summer school in Shanghai), and some alumni in Beijing participated in the event. 

Besides the updates and news of this year’s Center for Global Politics Summer School both in China and in other countries, Klaus Segbers announced the progress of the alumni association: the CGP alumni network was registered in Ger-many in February as a legal body – the CGP Alumni Association.

The highlight of the party was the lecture given by Ms. Frauke Austermann, the speaker, on her PhD proposal, which mainly focuses on how the EU emerges as a new type of power sharing between nation states within the group of member states and with third countries. Her research project also involved the role of the EU Dele-gations, the European Union’s “embassies” in EU external relations, especially in the case of China.

To me personally her research was especially interesting as her topic correlated with my research project on shared interests of the EU. Thanks to the alumni event I got a great opportunity to brainstorm new ideas for my studies with an experienced expert. She was very patient in response my questions, and our in-depth discussion in the informal atmosphere of the alumni event helped me to gain a deeper insight into the topic. 

Other participants also showed great interest in her research regarding the function of the EU Delegation as well as the EU-China relations. We were very surprised by her excellent proficiency in Chinese and that she gave herself a very traditional Chinese name “付皓科” -which has the same pronunciation as her given name “Frauke” in Chinese characters.

EES Online (Source: Approved Letter by anankkml)Speed dating with the new summer school participants. Source:Chaoyi Chen

New Forms of Alumni Communication in Shanghai: Speed-Dating with Newcomers

by Chaoyi Chen

On August 23rd, 2011 our Shanghai alumni had a very special event: Speed-dating with the newcomers of 2011 Summer School China (SSC) at Xingkong Café, Fudan University.

The speed-dating started with an introduction of past local events in China to give students of 2011 Summer School China general information about the alumni association. Then ten participating alumni who had different educational backgrounds and work experiences and the students of 2011 summer school were divided into five groups. Each student group had five minutes with each of the alumni groups and then changed tables to meet with the next alumni group. They asked questions about further studies with the CGP as well as about the careers of our alumni. The networking atmosphere was so hot that each round actually exceeded the 5-minute time limitation. The whole event lasted for nearly one hour.

 The speed-dating is a new format of alumni event. It helps newcomers to know more about the CGP alumni association and at the same time students also learn a lot from the extensive interests and abundant experiences of our alumni. However, it was the first year to hold such an event and we hope to organize it even better next year with more alumni participating.


EES Online (Source: Approved Letter by anankkml)Tatjana received her M.A. degree with East European Studies Online in 2005.  She has been engaged in building up the alumni network from the very beginning. Source: private

Interview with Tatjana Mejvogel-Volk, President of the CGP Alumni Association

by Vitaliya Tsarik

Last year Tatjana was elected as President of the CGP Alumni Association, which was founded on February 28, 2011 and registered under the German law as CGP Alumni e.V.

The founding members of the CGP Alumni Association elected her unanimously because of her active engagement in networking, her practical approach to developing the CGP alumni network and because of the efforts she put into coordinating the creation of the formal Alumni Association. In her interview to the CGP Alumni Newsletter she explains why she thinks it is worth it.

 1. Tatjana, what is the idea behind the CGP Alumni Association?

At the CGP we aim at fostering communication between alumni to help promote their careers, projects and ideas. In today’s modern globalized world that can be effectively achieved by smart networking.

 2. How many members do you have so far?

Around 30 members. But there is great potential – many alumni are interested in networking.

The global CGP alumni network has around 300 alumni who are registered in the Alumni Forum (that’s around half of all CGP graduates). More than 100 users are registered in the Facebook group for CGP Alumni, further groups are formed in Russian and Chinese social media (Vkontakte and QQ).

 3. What is the difference between the alumni Association and alumni network?

The alumni association is a legal body which, in the future, will concentrate all alumni activity, including most networking options. It provides new opportunities for the network: Now we can organize events, attract sponsors and experts for the CGP and for alumni events etc.

4. Why do alumni become Association members?

Even now, communication within the association is more active: Such things as informal exchange, professional exchange and the career market work better for those who are continuously in touch.  In time, most active alumni will become members and help form an exclusive club with exclusive features - Newsletter premium edition, Forum premium access and specific e-mail addresses. To make it easy we have improved the procedure of becoming a member; now you can even pay the membership fee via Pay Pal.

 5. What is the organizational structure of the CGP Alumni e.V.? And what is the role of the Board?

There are the Board of Directors and several Working Groups for different tasks: For the newsletter and online networking (to enhance informational exchange among alumni), for scholarships and grants (to foster research potential of the network in future) and for PR and branding (to build up a CGP alumni brand).

 The Board of Directors sorts out formalities, secures efficient cross-group communication of ideas and also keeps in touch with CGP to ensure consistency between CGP activity and the network.

 6. What is the role of individual members?

We encourage association members to actively participate in the working groups and to tailor the alumni association activities to their concrete interests – this would make the association work efficiently. At the end of the day the alumni association is what alumni are ready to make of it!

 7. In a tough competition between social networks (from Facebook and LinkedIn to smaller, local networks) what is the unique selling point of CGP Alumni Network?

The CGP Alumni network is an exclusive club for people with common interests in global political processes. Alumni have different regional backgrounds and diverse professional careers, but they have common CGP experiences and can easily discuss complex political topics. Such communication combines personal and professional relations.

 8. As the President of the Association – how do you see the future of the network in five years?

Alumni network will become a large community sharing information on professional and research issues connected to global politics as well as for striking up personal relationships in a secure environment where you can trust people. The core of the network will be formed by alumni association members who will have a closed club within the network. These more active alumni will have their private events tailored to their career needs.

 Thanks to the progressive alumni activity CGP will become a strong entity with a solid reputation, which it will share with all alumni, but especially with the association members. We aim for the alumni association membership to become a valuable asset on your CV!

To make it easy we have improved the procedure of becoming a member; now you can even pay the membership fee via Pay Pal (see more on the procedure here – or contact Association office at

More News and Stories


Graduate School (Doctorate Hat With Degree by digitalart)
Monika Bixho is an alumna of East European Studies Online, 2003-2005. She is working as a national political officer with OSCE Presence in Albania. Source: private

Interview with Monica Bixho

by Birgit Holthaus

1. What prompted you to enroll in your CGP program (EES Online)?

It was an opportunity to be seized at once! The CGP program enabled me to embark on a valuable academic program on Eastern Europe while at the same time continuing my work and my career.

2. When you think about your Online M.A. experience, what stands out? What were the most memorable highlights?

I have always thought that the students who attended East European studies represented a sample of a remarkable variety of nations, places and views. They come from rich and different backgrounds and the experiences exchanged and shared during our studies was almost like attending another M.A.

3. Where do you work at the moment?

I am working as a national political officer with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Albania. Our goal is to provide assistance to Albanian authorities and civil society in promoting democratization, rule of law, human rights and on consolidating democratic institutions. 

4. Is the CGP education helpful in your work and in which way?

Yes, definitely. Having a grasp on the bigger picture is priceless, especially when today's realities are so blurry. The knowledge I was able to tap into throughout my CGP education enabled me to tackle things in a more globally informed manner that in turn, helped my self-appreciation and boosted my career.

5. Could you give some advice for students who are considering an Online M.A. Program with the CGP and later want to work for an international organization (or maybe specifically for UN organizations)?

I believe that the CGP programs represent distinctive opportunities for advancing one’s career. They are not limited to a single direction; they are multidisciplinary and foster employment with national or international organizations that seek qualified and versatile specialists.


Sharing Cultural Heritage - The Hermitage: St. Petersburg or Amsterdam?

by Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk

Of course it belongs like nothing else to the image of St. Petersburg: the famous museum, the Hermitage. The state museum, located in the old tsarist palace complex on the Neva River, was founded by Catharine the Great, but actually brought to life by Tsar Peter the Great, who laid the basis for the tradition of collecting.

But did you know that the Netherlands traditionally has quite close links to Russia? It was the Netherlands where Peter the Great was so impressed by examples of canals and bridges through cities, and these were later copied in St. Petersburg. And it was King Willem II of the Netherlands who married the daughter of the murdered Tsar Paul I,  Anna Pavlovna (sister of Tsar Nikolas I and Tsar Alexander I).

 It is Dutch and Flemish art that makes the Hermitage so famous. And now, whenever a trip to St. Petersburg is too far and you might by chance make it to Amsterdam, you‘ll have the opportunity to visit at least a small part of the large collection of the Hermitage.

 In 2004 Dutch Friends of the Hermitage founded in Amsterdam an independent foundation to organize exhibitions from the famous Hermitage. After hundreds of years of Dutch –Russian relations it seemed only appropriate to establish a place where at least some parts of the collection of the Hermitage might be seen in the Netherlands. In first instance a “try out” was established in a small place at the river Amstel with changing exhibitions from the Hermitage.

 In 2009 Her Majesty Queen Beatrix herself opened the Hermitage Amsterdam at the Amstel 51 in the very city center of Amsterdam. In an historic house from 1681 (a former home for elderly people), exhibitions from the Hermitage have been presented since then. At the moment of the writing of this article, the work of the famous Flemish painters Rubens, van Dijk and Jordaens may be visited until March 16th 2012.

See for more information:

Hermitage St. Petersburg:

Hermitage Amsterdam:


UN Conflict Management in the 21st Century The New Strategy of “Responsibility to Protect” and the State of Libya

by Birgit Holthaus

“Not many ideas… have the potential to matter more…, not only in theory but in practice, than that of the responsibility to protect” (Evans 2008; 7). The conception of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) is a relatively new one. It was presented for the first time at the United Nations Millennium General Assembly in 2000 and was adopted there in 2005. In fact, it was a reaction to failed humanitarian interventions in the Nineties, especially the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the ethnic massacre in Srebrenica/Bosnia in 1995. This strategy departs from the well-structured state order concept resulting from the Westphalian peace treaty in 1648, which emphasized state sovereignty (Bellamy / Williams / Griffin 2004; 32). The R2P strategy emphasizes the prevention of mass atrocities and non-military means (Evans 2008; 41). The Libyan crisis has been a milestone for the peacemaking strategy of the United Nations. For the first time, the conception of R2P is fully applied in concrete practice. In the German media, it has not only been accepted, it has been strongly appreciated because of its ethical strength. The idea to protect helpless civilians against the violence of their leaders corresponds to the wish of the enforcement of justice in a globalized world. Nevertheless, the concrete realization by the NATO air strikes against the Libyan dictator Gaddafi evoked some questions about the wide interpretation of the UN resolution 1973, the broad military support of the rebel troops and the high number of killed civilians. Furthermore, it was obvious that this strategy does not work in other states of concern, e.g. the Arab revolutionary country Syria.


Bellamy, Alex J. / Williams, Paul / Griffin, Stuart (eds) (2004): Understanding Peacekeeping. Polity Press, Cambridge 

Evans, Gareth (2008): The responsibility to protect. Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All. The Brookings Institution, Washington

Staff Announcements


CGP Newsletter editors: Marie Budde and Svenja Hülsmann

As the year comes to an end we are also saying good-by to our former Newsletter editor Marie Budde. For three years Marie was our faithful partner and colleague. We are very sorry to see her go and wish her all the very best for the future. On the bright side, we are happy to introduce Svenja Hülsmann as our new editor. Svenja was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. After a year of traveling through Australia and Asia she finally settled in Montreal, Canada. Svenja first completed a degree in Photography; next she acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Political as well as Cultural Science and then did a Masters degree in Journalisms.

Svenja worked as a translator and photographer in Montreal. When she returned to Berlin in 2010 she began to work for a Publishing house and is now happily working for the Center for Global Politics.