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Small Places, Big Issues

The problems of today’s world are by no means simply local. The fact that the majority of all societies all over the world are patriarchal, illustrates for example that gender inequality demands to be addressed through conversations on a global level. This does not however mean that only prestigious international conferences offer useful platforms for such discussions. Sometimes the most honest and constructive discussions happen in the smallest places. Indeed, places as small as Freiburg, a village in Southern Germany, which at first glance seems to be anything but extraordinary, can be big enough to facilitate such dialogues.

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For this reason on Tuesday 2 June 2015 Amitabh Kumar (Head of Media and Communication of CSR) had an interactive session with students from the 14th batch of the “Global Studies Program” (GSP), a two-year interdisciplinary master coordinated by Freiburg University. Unique feature of this program is that each semester is taught at a university in a different country. Freiburg University (Germany), FLACSO Buenos Aires (Argentina), Cape Town University (South Africa), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Jawaharlal Nehru University (India) and Chulalongkorn University (Thailand) are all equal partners in the entire program. The intercultural character also becomes clear from the significant diversity within the batches. This year’s students have 18 different nationalities (including one Indian) from six different continents (unfortunately Antarctica is statistically underrepresented) and are trained in different academic disciplines. Representing the first degree programme of its kind world-wide, the aim of the GSP is to provide students with a profound knowledge, methods and practical skills for the comparative analysis of the social, political, economic and cultural dimensions of contemporary globalization processes.

“It was a great interaction with these students from across the globe. Many of them will be visiting India soon. The conversation revolved around the current situation in India and how gender based violence is such a focal point since 16th of December”, Amitabh Kumar said.

Amitabh Kumar discovered that the life worlds of the students expanded far beyond the national borders of their countries of origin. When he spoke with them about the causes of gender based violence in India and the kind of work the Centre for Social Research does to deal with them, the students paid close attention. He encouraged the GSP students to take up gender as a serious topic of study, regardless of their geographical areas of interest. He also stressed that engagement of male students with gender issues is not only desired, but also essential in making a difference.

After the session, Russian GSP student Julia Eremyanova said; “I found the meeting really interesting and informative, it shed light on things I haven’t known before. It’s impossibly sad that these crimes against women take place and are so deeply rooted into the culture and the society. It’s a big challenge to address this, but people like Amitabh Kumar and his colleagues give hope to people that might have already lost it.”

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