By Christine June
GCMC Public Affairs
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Dec. 2, 2016) – Ulpia Botezatu described her 10-week experience in the Central and Southeast Europe Fellowship Program at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies as simultaneously flying in 100 hot air balloons.
Ulpia Botezatu, an analyst with the Space Critical Infrastructures Department of the Romanian Space Agency, meets with her fellowship mentor, Dr. Matt Rhodes, director of the Southeastern Europe non-resident program at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, at the Marshall Center’s Resource Library Nov. 29. (Marshall Center photo by Christine June)
“My Marshall Center experience was like seeing diverse views and perspectives from inside hundreds of hot air balloons of different colors and shapes that were launched all together at once,” said Botezatu, an analyst with the Space Critical Infrastructures Department of the Romanian Space Agency. “By that I mean, my experience was a spectacular mixture of everything – work, friendships, colleagues, mentors, research, beautiful landscapes and intimate perspectives on international security issues from many individualized experiences.”
Botezatu is the first to complete this fellowship with the Marshall Center’s Central and Southeast Europe non-resident program.
“This is an experimental program that we saw as an additional opportunity to build the Marshall Center’s network as well as the relationship with the Romanian National Defense University,” said Dr. Matt Rhodes, director of the Marshall Center’s Central and Southeast Europe non-resident program.
Rhodes was talking about the Memorandum of Understanding between the Marshall Center and the National Defense University of Romania, which was signed in May.
“This fellowship offers a timely and meaningful opportunity to implement this MoU in a mutually beneficial way that further strengthens our relationship with a leading partner institution in a key Eastern Flank ally country,” Rhodes said.
During her fellowship, Botezatu had three principle tasks, said Rhodes, who was her mentor during the program.
Her first task was to conduct research, write and present a publication-quality paper on a selected security studies’ topic. Botezatu presented “Design for Countering Terrorism: A Case Study of Gare du Nord, Paris” to Marshall Center staff and faculty Nov. 29.
Botezatu is a trained architect in addition to graduating from the Romanian National Defense College, receiving the highest honors in both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She also has a Master’s Degree in Urban Management from the Technical University in Berlin. She is currently finishing her doctorate degree with the Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.
“The topic she chose to focus on (urban design and implications for security and counterterrorism) is an area where we still have much to learn,” said Dr. Sam Mullins, Marshall Center’s professor of counterterrorism, who was Botezatu’s academic advisor for this paper. “Terrorists are increasingly targeting public transportation in order to inflict mass casualties, and this poses tremendous challenges for security services, so it’s really important that we try to understand how urban design can help or hinder counterterrorism operations.
“While it’s too soon to draw from conclusions on Ulpia’s research right now, she’s doing some really innovative work that has a great deal of potential,” said Mullins, who has co-supervised three successful Ph.D. candidates.
Her second task was to participate and at the same time, fulfill assistant duties in the Marshall’s Center eight-week Program on Applied Security Studies (PASS), which took place from Sept. 21 to Nov. 16.
Botezatu and her fellow participants experienced more than 200 hours of academic engagement. They studied 33 security topics from security experts in interactive lectures starting with security challenges and ending with strategies and approaches. They also had the opportunity to discuss with faculty, subject matter experts and each other in seminar groups about the world’s most challenging contemporary issues: terrorism; cyber security; migration; gender mainstreaming; and, transnational organized crime.
“Participating in PASS was great because everyone had a particular level of expertise. It’s not that you only learn from lectures from subject matter experts, but you also learn from your classmates’ experiences,” Botezatu said. “Having this intimate perspective on international security issues was really the greatest added value of me being here.”
Her third task was to coordinate with the Central and Southeast Europe outreach team in preparation of further nonresident cooperation in Romania. While here, she coordinated speakers and other elements for the regional Collective Defense Seminar to be held in Bucharest in December.
“Based on this successful experiment, we would like to make this fellowship an ongoing part of our program,” Rhodes said. “We have requested funding for two fellows over the course of the year.”
He added that these fellows could come from institutions in any of the programs’ countries: Poland; Czech Republic; Slovakia, Hungary; Slovenia, Croatia, Romania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Serbia; Bulgaria; Kosovo; Montenegro; Albania; Macedonia; and, Greece.
For Botezatu, all her academic and technical work, and research coupled with her Marshall Center experience comes down to: “I have always wanted to make a better world around me.”