• Dr. Ourania Papasozomenou, Brain City Berlin

    Dr. Ourania Papasozomenou, Arden University Berlin

Since 2019, Brain City Ambassador Dr. Ourania Papasozomenou has been working as a lecturer at Arden University Berlin. Her teaching topic is sustainability, her research focus: Water and energy policy.

“I research change,” says Dr. Ourania Papasozomenou. “I deal with institutional change, the change in beliefs and values – and how these are linked together.” In terms of content, the research focus of the Brain City Ambassador is more narrowly defined: Her focus is on environmental policy, but also on other policy areas with an impact on the environment. One example: Energy policy.

“I am particularly interested in how change happens, especially institutional change. Who initiates it and why? Whose interests are furthered by it. And how can we steer institutional change in a direction that society wants and accepts” explains Ourania Papasozomenou. For example, as part of the DiviCiti project, she is investigating how energy infrastructures in formerly or currently divided cities such as Berlin, Nicosia and Jerusalem reflect the interests of the past. But also how these cities can reflect and shape the desired change in the future.

DiviCiti is coordinated by the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. This is where Ourania Papasozomenou also found her current research area: “As a PostDoc at IRI-THESys, I worked on another infrastructure-related research project. At that time, it was about stormwater management in Berlin. I quickly became aware of how complicated, comprehensive, but mostly invisible the relationship between institutions, infrastructure and sustainability is. This is all the more true in the case of divided cities, where infrastructures can be shared, abandoned or jointly built according to interests.”

As part of her research at IRI THESys, Ourania Papasozomenou works together with colleagues in Jerusalem and Nicosia. Her work is also internationally oriented in other ways. “Our world is incredibly connected and it is quite difficult to draw clear boundaries when it comes to the origins and implications of beliefs and politics,” says the Brain City Ambassador. “Environmental problems require international cooperation. And solutions should also be accepted nationally by the relevant stakeholders – meaning, by citizens, interest groups and people who make political decisions. In that sense, my work has to be internationally networked.”

Berlin is a colourful, dynamic, open and diverse city. I love working together with international colleagues, and Berlin offers that in abundance.

As the capital of Europe’s largest economy, Berlin has a lot to offer. Not only the large number of research institutes, but also the variety of events at the science location open up many advantages for Ourania Papasozomenou: “Here, for example, you can hold conferences that are attended by local, national and international politicians and get in direct contact with political decision-makers,” she summarises. “Berlin is a colourful, dynamic, open and diverse city. I love working with international colleagues, and Berlin offers that in abundance.”

Ourania Papasozomenou herself came to the city for the first time in 2004 – as a tourist. “Berlin was so lively and colourful. I fell in love with the city straight away.” In 2006, after her first academic degree, the “Ptychio” (equivalent to the B.Sc. in Greece, editor’s note) in Environmental Sciences at the University of the Aegean in Mytilini, she moved from Greece to Berlin. “I did my Master’s degree in Integrated Natural Resource Management at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and then went on to do my doctorate, funded by the BMBF’s (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) International Postgraduate Program in Water Studies (IPSWat),” she recalls. Since 2019, she has been teaching at the Berlin campus of the internationally oriented private Arden University.

For young scientists who want to follow her example, Ourania Papasozomenou’s main advice is to build up a network. “That is very important. It is because working as a scientist or economist in Berlin is not easy.” But – the Brain City Ambassador is firmly convinced of this: “Networking pays off, and it’s fun too!” Ourania Papasozomenou’s personal recommendation is based on her own experience: “Discover Berlin and think out-of-the-box. You are in the right city!” (vdo)

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