Program for International Education and Social Change
Main Image for The Program for International Education and Social Change (PIESC)

The Program for International Education and Social Change (PIESC)

Bard College Berlin has a scholarship program for students from areas of crisis and conflict - presently 32 students from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Greece, Brazil and Eritrea. The scholarship enables them to earn a Bachelor degree in the humanities or social sciences, and to become much-needed change agents internationally and/or in their home countries. The PIESC program is completely dependent upon private and institutional donations.


The presence of the PIESC students on our campus has profoundly reshaped the modes and content of teaching and learning at Bard College Berlin. Their experiences and insights inform our curriculum and methodologies and readjust the relationship between the theory of the seminar room and the reality of the outside world. As an educational institution focused on the public good, we aim to translate these paradigm shifts into new perspectives for the rethinking of individual and collective actions and society as a whole.

A video made by the Institute of International Education's Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (

PIESC in Theory

In 2015 we established the Program for International Education and Social Change (PIESC), a scholarship program that is aimed at young, promising, strong-willed individuals from regions of crisis or conflict. The extreme indignity and ruthlessness that define our times call for a new and resolute generation of citizens who are committed to initiate change – idealistic and impactful change that is targeted toward increasing the communal well-being instead of the individual being well-off.
PIESC in Practice
Over the past three academic years, Bard College Berlin has been able to award 32 four-year scholarships to Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan, Palestinian, Greek, Brazilian and Eritrean students. This number makes up ten percent of the total student body of the college, which currently consists of 270 students. In light of the jarring worldwide figures of displaced people, 32 does seem a negligible number but in comparison to the number of refugees actually entering B.A. programs either in Europe or abroad, it is a remarkable achievement. The PIESC students enroll in one of the two available curricular tracks and at the end of four years students who meet the requirements graduate with a dual American and German B.A. degree.
The aim of the program is to contribute to a new generation of change agents and multipliers that are needed not only in the regions of crisis where the students originate from, but also in Europe and the “West” at large. We want to educate the future politicians, journalists, teachers, entrepreneurs, artists and intellectuals that are able to act locally in a concentrated and pragmatic way all the while being driven and informed by intercultural and interdisciplinary thinking. Only this mode of thought and action can succeed in translating and mediating between the fronts of our conflict-ridden world.
PIESC Funding
The PIE-SC program can only exist because of private and institutional philanthropy. Bard College Berlin commits to cover 70% of the tuition balance. The remaining cost of supporting a scholarship is €20,000 per year. A full scholarship covers tuition, room and board, all applicable fees, health care, monthly transport within Berlin, and a fund to cover books, study materials and pocket money. We ask donors to make a firm pledge for the full duration of a B.A. program, which equals four years of study.

Media features

Zwischen den Welten: Wafa Mustafa (DAAD - German Academic Exchange Service)

Videos: Education Matters, in collaboration with IIE - PEER (Sixtine Berquist, LinkedIn, September 5, 2018)

Syrian Students at Bard College Berlin: A Humanistic Imperative (Spring 2018 Bardian)

The Ghost of Migration, Student Exhibition at Bard College Berlin (Institute of International Education, June 29, 2018)

Eine Welt der Vielfalt: das Bard College Berlin (Bertelsmann Stiftung Blog, March 16, 2018)

The Displaced: Refugee Stories Prompt a Moment of Reflection (LinkedIn, January 25, 2018)

Germany grapples with integration after opening its borders (Euronews, November 27, 2017)

Germany's Refugee Factor (TRT World - The Newsmakers, September 21, 2017)

Angela Merkel besucht geflüchtete Studierende In Berlin (Der Tagesspiegel, August 25, 2017)

How do refugee students make the jump to Germany's universities? (The Christian Science Monitor, July 24, 2017)

Ahmad's Story (Kiron Blog, June 20, 2017)

Collaboration in Refugee Education: Field Notes from Bard College Berlin (Kerry Bystrom and Marion Detjen, EuropeNow, June 6, 2017)

Wafa Mustafa: The Story Behind The Name (Die Bärliner student blog, April 4, 2017)

Life in a new land: a refugee's journey (The Christian Science Monitor, March 26, 2017)

Open Hearts, Open Minds (Bardian, Spring 2017)

Marion Detjen on the Refugee Scholarship Network and BCB's refugee students (Wir machen das, January 23, 2017)

The Program for International Education and Social Change in the Context of Migration and Integration in Germany (Die Bärliner student blog, January 17, 2017)

The Refugee Student Scholarship Network (Wir machen das, June 16, 2016)


  • Agata Lisiak and Karam Alhamad in Discover Society
  • BCB student Karam Alhamad on rebel incentives to return to violence (International Studies Quarterly)
  • Marion Detjen at conference on migration in Germany since 1945
  • Bard College Berlin at "The Other 1 Percent" Conference (Berlin)
  • Agata Lisiak and student Mohamad Othman at “We, the City” conference


February 4, 2020
Real Talk: The Oblivious Tongue – Diaspora, Poetry, and Transnational Expression

December 10, 2019
Real Talk: Couldn't They Be Allies? Political Diasporas and German Foreign/Cultural Policy

November 11, 2019, Volksbühne
Real Talk: Justice for Syria and Universal Jurisdiction in Germany - What Can be Done?

November 7, 2019, BCB campus
25 Years of the Transnational Migration Paradigm: Challenges, Blind Spots, and Opportunities for a Global Perspective

October 9, 2019, BCB campus
Guest talk: Patrice Poutrus on "The History of German Asylum Politics from the Postwar Period up to Today"

October 4, 2019, BCB campus
Emergency Response to Migration in Greece (Talk by BCB students and donation campaign)

September 23, 2019, Volksbühne
Real Talk: On Changing Gender Relations in Yemen and Its European Diaspora

September 18, 2019, BCB campus
Guest Talk: Mustafa Khalifa

May 14, 2019, BCB campus
The Skin of the Law. European Migration Regimes and their Global Realities

May 10, 2019, Volksbühne
Real Talk: On New Beginnings and Berlin’s Arab Exile Body

April 9, 2019, Volksbühne
Real Talk: Accommodating the Devil. The Syrian Civil Society’s Struggle for Survival

Hesham Moadamani

Hesham Moadamani

BA in Economics, Politics, and Social Thought (2021)

"As I am one of the very few, among the millions of Syrian refugees, who were displaced and still able to continue higher education, I am very appreciative of the education I am receiving at BCB."
Omar Haidari

Omar Haidari

BA in Humanities, the Arts, and Social Thought (2021)

"This is the first time that I have ever been in a place filled with so much diversity, yet have the feeling that we are all equal. This is a special feeling for me."


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