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Darshan Vigneswaran

BSc in Political Science

‘I have been privileged to be surrounded by bright and daring students at the UvA, who are keen to learn how to do research.’

Darshan Vigneswaran is co-director of the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) and an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam.

Darshan Vigneswaran
Photographer: Jeroen Doomernik

Which course(s) do you teach?

‘I teach the introduction in Political Science and several courses on international relations (IR). IR has always been a field characterised by its heated debates between rival theories, and my goal has been to encourage students to use this rivalry as a creative tension that animates the way in which they talk about the world.’

What do you want students to learn?

‘I see Political Science as an education in coping with uncertainty. The field of politics is dominated by strong ideas and convictions. We all came to our first politics lecture with our backpacks full of inherited ideas. My job is to help students doubt what they believe, define what is unknown and then take the imaginative leaps necessary to head in the direction of the truth.

I think that developments in information and communication technology have better positioned me to deliver on this promise. It is now accepted that the goal of the lecturer is not to pass on information; we have Google for that. IT now provides us with an array of tools to guide students’ learning processes more efficiently in real time, by focusing on the development of their critical acumen rather than adjudicating what they have absorbed.’

What is your own research about?

‘When I have the chance, especially in smaller groups, I teach students on the area that I am most keenly interested in – the politics of migration and territory. In this respect, I have been privileged to be surrounded by bright and daring students at the UvA, who are keen to learn how to do research. Now more than ever in teaching research methods or hosting research projects on this topic, the insights that students bring back from the field help to inform my published work and inspire me to move in new directions.’