Mohammadali Ghods

Email: m.ghods@berlin.bard.edu

Where are you from and which program are you enrolled in at Bard College Berlin?

I am from Iran and I am a student in the Politics, Economics, and Social Thought program here at Bard College Berlin. I am doing a double concentration in Economics and Politics. 

What drew you to Bard College Berlin and why did you ultimately decide to enrol as a student?

The small and communal environment at Bard College Berlin was for me the most important factor when making this decision; the fact that we are a close-knit community allows for a much easier interaction not only with students, but also faculty members and the administration. It ensures that students can approach anyone and share their concerns or ask those questions for which one doesn’t easily find the platform to do so otherwise, over the break, in the cafeteria or in another setting on campus, a luxury not present in big universities. Furthermore if you have any idea or plan for which you need support or counselling, there are not many barriers or middle persons for you to reach out to, with everyone being within close distance from you.

To live on campus is what I would say adds another dimension to the whole experience of studying at Bard College Berlin, since the very people you see and meet in class are also potentially your roommates or flatmates, with whom you can carry on that conversation you had in class and had to postpone to a later time. You can also get to know them better through the various activities and events that are on offer on campus. Be it the gym, the backyards or the reading room, there is always that feeling of you being able to engage in activities with your peers, a closeness that is much harder to achieve or make sense of, were you to study at a big university. Not to mention that the diversity existing at the college is impressive when you account for the relatively small student body we have, making interaction with each and every student a unique opportunity if one wants to socialize.

What do you enjoy about living in Berlin?

Berlin is a city that is important not only because it is a capital, but also for its peculiar history and politics. From its history of division, to its special relationship to modern art, there is always an event for you, regardless of what interests you might have. Not a single day goes by in which one corner of the city is not involved in the organization of a sports, music, arts or political event or conference, giving you a pleasant headache as to what event or place you would like to visit or discover that day. For, as I said, every corner of this city has its very own specialty to offer. 

Write briefly about one of your courses that left a lasting impression on you.

The course Origins of Political Economy, at that time taught by Dirk Ehnts, was one that I took a lot of lessons away from. I took the class in my third semester of studies here at Bard College Berlin, even though most students take this class later on during their studies. It provided me with an overview of what different takes and perspectives there have been over the course of history with regards to political economy and the economic organization of societies. The course caught my attention in particular as it addressed many of my questions and concerns as to how we can ensure to have an economic system that can provide and deliver the optimal results, while being cognizant of the politics and practicalities of implementing such measures. It was a course that in a way also reflected what I would say my liberal arts education so far at Bard College Berlin stands for: to challenge assumptions that are held for granted, yet when scrutinized carefully, seem to fall apart in explaining the reality - a heterodoxy that is much different from the automatized education one gets from textbooks or a regular course.

How do you think the education you receive at Bard College Berlin will help you in the future? What does a liberal arts education mean to you?

Liberal Arts education to me is an approach to education in which the learner is encouraged to enquire, to strive to assess each and every argument in its own right, using the tools and skills it provides. And in that regard, I consider it a necessity for everyone, regardless of professional interests, to have a minimal exposure to the eye-opening experience this opportunity provides.

Every progress and every difficult decision after all stems from scrutiny and careful examination of what already is in place, and in my case, as someone aspiring to enter politics, this would mean to assess and measure how I can improve or revamp the default settings I will be put in, as a politician or economist. For, in the end, what matters is how aware we are about what we are doing, and whether we have the tools necessary to make those critical decisions that define us as individuals, regardless of our capacities, titles or professions.