Baran Kızılırmak 2019-2020 Academic Year Jean Monnet Scholar

Could you tell us a little about yourself? How has your career been shaped until today? 

I graduated from Ankara Atatürk High School in 2010 and from Ankara University Faculty of Law in 2015. While I was in the third year of the faculty, I have decided to become an academic with the inspiration and influence of the professors I took lectures from and began working for this aim. After completing my bachelor’s, I continued my master’s degree in public law at Istanbul University. Meanwhile, my academic career has begun at Kadir Has University Criminal and Criminal Procedure Law Department where I was accepted as a research assistant. It was quite interesting to experience becoming an academic at the university shortly after the studentship.

In 2018, I completed my master’s degree at Istanbul University after defending my thesis titled “Use of Data in Criminal Procedure Which are Obtained for Preventive Purpose”. The same year, I have enrolled in the doctoral program on public law at Galatasaray University. While I was continuing my doctoral studies, I applied to the Jean Monnet Scholarship and by being awarded with it, I had the chance to do a second master’s degree at the University of Hamburg. I completed this program on European Law in 2020 as the 2nd in class and got my second master’s degree, afterward I returned to Turkey. Currently, I resume my doctoral studies at Galatasaray University and my job at Kadir Has University.

Moreover, a professor in Germany, Prof.  Dr. Eric Hilgendorf, who is known for his work in artificial intelligence and criminal law, topics directly related to my research project, accepted me as a doctoral student. Thus, I decided to pursue a second doctoral program in Germany, and later I was awarded the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) scholarship, which I had applied to conduct my research. I will continue my doctoral studies at the University of Würzburg as of the 2021 fall academic semester. After completing the doctorate program in Germany, I am planning to return to Turkey to continue my doctoral studies at Galatasaray University and my academic work at Kadir Has University, where I have been working for 6 years. Finally, I should mention that the support of my colleagues and professors as well as my family was of great importance to conduct these academic studies.

Could you give us information about the university and the topic you studied with the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program? 

I participated in the “European and European Legal Studies” master’s program at the University of Hamburg – Europa Kolleg in Germany with the Jean Monnet scholarship. The program aims to have a better understanding of the EU integration from economic, political and legal perspectives. This 12-month program consists of lectures in two semesters, as well as a compulsory internship of 1 to 2 months and finally the master’s thesis phase. The lectures consist of modules aiming at expertise in certain areas such as “EU Law” and “External Relations of the EU”. I preferred the “EU Law” module. Needless to say, the depth that can be gained in such a field over one year is extremely limited; however, I believe that I had the opportunity to learn about the fundamentals in various areas of EU law. The rest is up to the students who will conduct further research and studies in the field they wish to specialize in.

The purpose of the compulsory internship within the scope of the program was to gain a practical as well as a theoretical aspect of the study field. Therefore, those who chose the law module usually did their internships in law offices and related institutions. I preferred to do an internship at the Max Planck Institute to contribute to my academic studies. I worked at MPI for one month in a comparative constitutional law research.

In this master’s program which I attended with the Jean Monnet scholarship, I have written my thesis on cross-border transfer of personal data, which is an up-to-date topic for both Turkey and the EU, to support my previous studies as well as because I am interested in the fields of law and informatics, technology and personal data protection.

I have to admit that the program which I attended was more intense than I expected. Lectures often took place from 9 am until 6 pm, and in the evening the students were expected to study the texts / articles for the lectures of the following days. Despite the intensity, I believe that the program provides an opportunity to take lectures from more than twenty different professors/lecturers. Therefore, it is particularly valuable in terms of observing various teaching methods and experiencing an active learning process as a student.

While I was planning to resume my doctoral studies in Turkey after the end of the program; it was upon the suggestion of a colleague from Max Planck Institute during my internship, that I have contacted and met the professor from the University of Würzburg, who is specialized on AI and criminal law. Later, as he accepted to supervise my Ph.D. dissertation and I was awarded the DAAD scholarship, I continued my doctoral studies at the University of Würzburg. Therefore, I must mention that the Jean Monnet scholarship has opened a door for me to pursue a second doctoral program at the University of Würzburg. To sum up, the Jean Monnet scholarship can also offer/ lead to unpredictable opportunities.

How did the education you completed through the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program affect your view of the European Union? 

I have comprehended how complex the EU is. To give an example, I understood that questions such as “will the EU dissolve?” which has been discussed after BREXIT, arise from a lack of understanding of what the EU integration in. Learning about the historical background of the EU integration within the light of political and economic facts, comprehending the political conjuncture during the periods when the enlargement and deepening phases took place, and seeing the connection between the legal structure and economic fundamentals; also helped me to understand legal developments better. Exactly for this reason, I understood better that as long as the economic affairs maintain, the relationship between Turkey and the EU will continue, and even if it weakens from time to time, it will not come to an end.

What would you like to recommend to Jean Monnet Scholarship candidates? 

Jean Monnet scholarship -which is a program that makes it possible for people working in the public and private sectors, as well as university students (especially students who have just completed their undergraduate degree) to continue their education abroad with a master’s degree- is a well-established and prestigious scholarship that is well-known and respected in the EU.

I think that the eligibility criteria for the scholarship are particularly objective, and the scope of the grant is sufficient. The fact that the staff working for the scholarship program is in contact with the scholars throughout the process and their support at every stage makes the students feel supported. Thus, it becomes possible to focus solely on academic studies.

My humble advice to those who are entitled to receive a scholarship would be; whenever possible, travel in the country and its surroundings, socialize, try to get to know the culture, the habits of the people, their view of the world, and especially visit museums, concerts, and similar cultural events. In some countries, there are certain possibilities such as museum cards for students, etc.; it would be helpful to learn about them. Finally, I believe that we should remind ourselves more often that we are in the host country for only a limited time and therefore it would be better not to spend time and effort there for the things that can be done when we return to Turkey.