IEE Newsletter No. 31

Student's Perspective on the MADM Intake 2018-20

Majorie Gonzàlez Ramírez reports on her MADM journey

In 2017, while working on topics on human rights and indigenous peoples in Colombia, I decided to apply for admission to the IEE for the Master of Arts in Development Management, which I had known about for several years through the DAAD scholarship programme. What a wise decision! The time lived in Germany as a DAAD scholarship holder and as a student of the MADM programme have been one of the most significant experiences in my life.

Learning about the theory and practice of development from economic and social perspectives, visiting Cape Town in South Africa, sharing vivid moments with my fellows, being supported by the IEE to attend relevant conferences related to climate change, and living in a green city with safe and varied possibilities to get around, are some of the reasons.

In the MADM, I had the opportunity to study scholars such as Solow, Lewis, Sen, Nusbaum, Sachs and Escobar, who helped me understand that, beyond economic growth, social and environmental indicators should be taken into consideration when talking about development.

In fact, for my thesis, I decided to conduct a qualitative study regarding the influences of rights of nature notion on environmental justice perspectives in Colombia. Although at the beginning, I was a bit doubtful about the acceptance of this innovative topic, I got all the support to carry on, including an insightful and productive field research period in Colombia.

MADM student 1
Field research period in Colombia in the city of Quibdó Chocó. October 2019.
(Photo: Majorie Gonzàlez Ramírez)

These 20 months, including the introductory German language course, were very intensive and full of emotions. Although the programme was demanding regarding academic tasks and exams, I also had the time to relax and share life experiences and diverse point of views with my 15 colleagues who came from more than 10 countries located in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

MADM student 2
Visit to Berlin. August 2018. (Photo: Philip Mugwati)

In addition to the regular academic offer, two summer schools (one in Bochum and other in Cape Town) make this programme outstanding. In Cape Town, besides the top-quality lectures and excited tours around the city, something that marked my life was visiting a sanctuary of rescued lions from circuses and other abusive environments. I learned there, that many so-called sustainable initiatives that involve animal conservation are not always ethical. One example is of trophy hunting projects in South Africa, run in the name of biodiversity protection.

MADM student 3
Summer School in Cape Town: at the Table Mountain. (Photo: Majorie Gonzàlez Ramírez)

MADM student 4
Visit to Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary in Cape Town. (Photo: Majorie Gonzàlez Ramírez)

I cannot be more grateful to the academic and administrative personnel from the MADM programme and to the DAAD, as they gave me the support I needed, not only to do my master studies and perform well during my studies, but also to attend different events that were very important for my career.

MADM student 5
DAAD meeting in Hamburg. April 2019. (Photo: Shuvo Saha)

In November 2018, for example, I was able to attend the Paris Peace Forum. it is a platform with the purpose to share ideas and examples that can be seen as solutions for social, political and environmental issues worldwide.

MADM student 6
Conference given by Jeffrey Sachs during the Paris Peace Forum in 2018.
(Photo: Marjorie González Ramírez)

In June 2019, the Global Landscape Forum in Bonn took place, and I had the opportunity to attend it along with other colleagues, thanks to the support of the Programme. It was a very enlightening experience that showed different views and practices of addressing climate change, from which I could get ideas to enrich my research project.

In addition, in December 2019, I attended a side event of the Conference of Parties COP 25 in Madrid, called “development and climate days”, organised by the International Institute for Environment and Development, designed as an informal gathering to talk about nature-based solutions and concerns that address climate change issues with the participation of policy makers, development practitioners, and academia.

During my stay in Germany, I had the opportunity to live and explore the landscapes of the Ruhr Gebiet, a geographical area of great natural and river wealth, located in the state of North Rhine Westphalia. It was in this region that I travelled daily by tram, bus, metro or bicycle from the small city of Witten, where I lived during my studies, to Bochum.

The existence of green corridors, designed for cyclists, allows for the connecting of cities and the diversification of use of more environmentally friendly means of transportation. Through these green corridors, I was able to explore wonderful places in cities such as Wetter, Hagen, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Hattingen, and Dortmund.

While exploring places in those cities, I discovered the vegan food buffets (Vegan Mitbring-brunch) that takes place every weekend in each city, the Repaircafe, where you can use tools to repair objects from bicycles to cloth and learn how to do it for free, as well as several book exchange shelves (öffentlicher Bücherschränke).

The experience in Germany also allowed me to get to know the Germans live in an area where pharmacies, bakeries and bicycle paths abound. Also, associations and clubs (Vereine) that develop various topics of general interest such as those that promote women’s, environmental, and animal rights. I feel so lucky for having had the opportunity to learn the nuances of German culture, where empathy, solidarity, and sharing are part of people’s lives.

MADM student 7
Visit to Frankfurt. December 2018. (Photo: Marjorie González Ramírez)

Besides my credentials as a master graduated, I am also very proud of having accomplished the dream of seeing my first article published in a peer-reviewed journal. Within the next months, it will be published with my second article related to my master thesis, both published in academic journals led by the Ruhr University. Many thanks to the support and guidance I found at IEE and RUB.

Although I have had to return to my country to resume my job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I know that the experience lived both within the MADM programme and outside the University will accompany me for the rest of my life.

I hope to write the next chapter of this story in the next few years when I go back to Germany to pursue my PhD. An experience like this is worth repeating.

GonzalezRamirezMarjorie González Ramirez

former MADM Student
in Bochum 2018 - 2020

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