Brandt School Universität Erfurt

“And the Commitment Award 2016 goes to …”

On Sunday July 10, 2016 Brandt School students, professors, staff and their guests celebrated a wonderful Commitment Award ceremony and a hearty farewell for the graduating students of the Class of 2016. Guests and School members gathered at the Kaisersaal in Erfurt to honor the three winning Commitment Award projects and the achievements of the students graduating.

In his keynote speech, Dietmar Roller, head of International Justice Mission Deutschland, pointed out that our students have not only the capability but also the responsibility to become active: The world we live in is characterized by the reality of habitual violence and modern-day slavery arising from impunity and dysfunctional public justice systems. Amongst other things, the world’s poor lack access to their respective jurisdiction. According to him, the challenge must be “to promote justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels” (Sustainable Development Goal No.16, UN).

The Commitment Award, a joint project of the Engagementpreis-Stiftung and the Brandt School, aims to support new, charitable, social initiatives implemented by MPP students and alumni. This is an opportunity for our students, who are from diverse backgrounds, to work together and implement social projects using the theoretical and practical knowledge gained from their studies at the Willy Brandt School. This year’s Commitment Award was given to three outstanding initiatives who convinced the jury with clear-cut, ambitious and sustainable project ideas. Markus Pins, lecturer at the School and initiator of the Award, pointed out that it is most important that these projects partner with others, share their ideas and dreams and that they do not shy back of asking others to become actively involved in their initiatives.

1st prize winners of 2016 are Aiperi Otunchieva, and the MPP alumni Batyrbek Alymkulov and Daniar Matikanov (Kyrgyzstan) for their project “Water for Small-scale Farmers”. As a result of climate change and due to the alteration of rainfall patterns, rain-fed agriculture at Shybran village in south Kyrgyzstan is under risk. Improved technology for rainwater harvesting will be the key to adapt to these changes. Our winners present practical solutions for efficient water use in the absence of water system infrastructure in rural areas. They state that even with annual precipitation levels lower than 300 mm, it is possible to ensure rain-fed agriculture.

The 2nd prize is awarded to Harini Suresh (India) for her project "Save our Future". First-year MPP student Harini aims to spread awareness about the issue of child sexual abuse in the city of Chennai, India. Fellows at schools would be provided with a complete set of lesson plans breaking down this complex issue into simpler units that would explain everything to a child.

The 3rd prize goes to MPP student Grigoriy Grigoriyev (USA, Russia) and his college Jafar Terciano Binasse for their project “Computer School in Sub-Saharan Village in Mozambique”. They created a project that is dedicated to the development of computer skills for the young inhabitants of the Marrupa community, in Mozambique. They would like to create an inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer school, where local kids can learn to use computers. Eventually, they’ll be able to learn to code and create programs; as the computers would be running Open Source Software.

After a nice dinner buffet, Dr. Anja Mihr, visiting professor at the school and currently covering the Franz Haniel Chair of Public Policy, and student representative Ashok Kumar Ganguly held their commencement speeches. Erika Duarte Ebers and Joren van Veen, presented a video with pictures and memories from Summer Schools, excursions and further activities of the Class of 2016 from the last two years. The evening closed with a farewell for the Class of 2016 and concluded with music, celebrating and lots of picture taking.

We would like to express our strongest congratulations and thanks to our graduating students that have made the last two years in Brandt School so remarkable and to all Commitment Award applicants for their commitment and great ideas.