Addressing Populism from a Transatlantic Perspective

An Interview with the BMW Center’s First Fulbright-Schuman MAGES Scholar, Julian Müller-Kaler

Photo of Julian Müller-KalerHometown: Sommerach, a small village in northern Bavaria, Germany 

Undergraduate Major: International Relations

Fun fact about yourself:

It was not a European politician but the American President Barack Obama who ignited my political interest. Ever since then, the transatlantic relationship has been at the center of my passion for politics.

What do you most look forward to at Georgetown’s MAGES Program (a class, professor, experience)?

The BMW Center for German and European Studies maintains a phenomenal faculty, provides its students with a world-class education, and exposes them to a bewildering array of speakers. 

First and foremost, the MAGES program is an extraordinary community that emphasizes critical thinking in academics, fosters mentoring relationships and enables each individual to grow. Studying the transatlantic relationship in such a special environment is probably the one thing I most look forward to. 

Academic focus for the MAGES program:

The rise of populist actors in Europe and the United States of America has already been my academic focus during my undergraduate studies in Germany. My bachelor thesis dealt with the question whether the Republican Party has turned into a populist party over the last decades and especially during the presidency of Obama, thereby enabling the political rise of Donald Trump. Based on the explanation of the historical transformation process of modern conservatism in the US, I conducted a qualitative content analysis of Republican primary speeches in 2016.

Further research about the nature of populism, specific reasons for its recent successes and potential impacts on the transatlantic relationship will most likely be key during my graduate studies at the BMW Center for German and European Studies.

As a European, why did you choose to complete your graduate degree in the US? Is Washington, DC particularly appealing to you?

Transatlantic relations have emerged as my strongest interest within international politics and diplomacy. However, contemplating this relationship as well as American politics only from a German perspective during my undergraduate studies leaves me feeling somewhat insufficiently prepared. Studying at the BMW Center will enhance my understanding of transatlantic and European politics from an international and American point of view. Since I believe that political empathy and the awareness of differing mindsets are critical in diplomacy and the successful management of international relations, this potential dissemination of knowledge is the main reason why I choose to complete my graduate degree in the United States of America. And I couldn’t think of a better place to pursue this aspiration than Washington, DC and Georgetown’s BMW Center in particular.

What is your dream internship between year one and year two?

Since I already had the chance to gain valuable working experience both in the private and public sector in Germany and abroad, I would like to pursue an internship in an international or supranational organization like the United Nations or the European Union. While interning at the German Embassy in Nepal in the summer of 2017, I enjoyed working in such an international environment very much and gaining further knowledge in this particular field of politics would be indeed a dream come true. 

Can you give us a little insight into the application process for Fulbright-Schuman? Any advice to future applicants?

I experienced the first steps of the application process for the Fulbright-Schuman scholarship award to be quite similar to the application process of the MAGES program at the School of Foreign Service in Georgetown. In addition to the requested curriculum vitae and the statement of purpose, however, Fulbright-Schuman also asked for a sufficient research proposal. Furthermore, the second round of the application process included a Skype interview with the Fulbright commission in Belgium, where questions were asked about my motivation, certain details on my CV, and specific areas of interest regarding the transatlantic relationship.

The newly established partnership between the BMW Center and the Fulbright-Schuman commission is indeed a unique opportunity for European students to pursue their graduate studies at one of the world’s leading institutions in the political science field. I want to encourage all potential applicants to at least give it a try, since you'll learn a lot (even) throughout the application process. My central advice would be to put a lot of thought into the application already at an early stage. The process is fairly comprehensive and deadlines for the next academic year are already in December.

Please feel free to reach out to me, if there are any further questions about the scholarship, the application process or the cooperation between MAGES and Fulbright-Schuman in general; I am more than happy to help. 

What do you hope to do after the program/where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

Ever since I started to be interested in American politics and the transatlantic relationship, it was a personal desire to pursue my studies in the US at some point. Finally being given this opportunity is an extraordinary privilege for which I am deeply grateful. 

Therefore, I consider the MAGES program not only a major step in my career trajectory but also an obligation to contribute to the transatlantic relationship, a friendship that is currently challenged by political developments but in a changing world probably more important than ever before. 

Interested in learning more about featured scholarships and external funding opportunities available to MAGES students? Travel to our Tuition and Financial Aid page to read further!