Student profile: Ruben Reike
The main reason for choosing to study International Relations at Oxford was the opportunity to work with outstanding scholars in the field. I have not regretted this decision for a moment, the intellectual environment really is amazing in terms of quality and diversity.
My doctoral dissertation deals with the Responsibility to Protect and the prevention of mass atrocity crimes. Oxford seemed the perfect place to work on this project as my supervisor, Professor Jennifer Welsh, is one of the world’s leading experts on the Responsibility to Protect: she has recently been appointed as UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect. I constantly get cutting-edge feedback on my work, have amazing access to policymakers, and have met many great people working on closely related issues.
Moreover, my project is quite interdisciplinary, including aspects of international relations, international law, genocide studies, and criminology. In Oxford it is easy to attend lectures and seminars in any of those disciplines and to meet and discuss problems with leading experts in those fields. In the Department for Politics and International Relations you frequently interact with international lawyers, philosophers, or experts on specific regions. The Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, for example, brings together political scientists, lawyers, and philosophers to discuss developments in armed conflict. And for me, it is great that there is a Centre for Criminology under the same roof as DPIR.
My dissertation contains three case studies. I’m looking at the ethnic cleansing campaign in Bosnia in the early 1990s, the post-election violence in Kenya 2007-08, and the more recent intervention in Libya. Thanks to Oxford’s strong emphasis on regional studies, including African studies and Middle Eastern studies, it is no problem to find experts on any of those countries and regions. For instance, much of the academic commentary on the post-election crisis in Kenya came from Oxford. And there was vivid and stimulating discussion of the recent crisis in Libya (and now Syria and Egypt). In general, there is always a high-profile panel discussion and debate on contemporary events. Overall, I feel extraordinarily privileged to learn from such a diverse, supportive, and open-minded community of scholars.