On July 5, 2014, 40 students, professionals and policymakers across the country will be attending a prestigious, two-week energy seminar in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Baku Summer Energy School (BSES) is an annual two-week certificate program of the Caspian Center for Energy and Environment of ADA University held in July, in partnership with the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic. Among the many who applied and the few who were accepted is FIU’s very own Melisa Balos, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Politics and International Relations.
With the help of Dr. Edward Glab, Director of the School of International and Public Affairs’ (SIPA) Global Energy Security Forum, Balos was able to secure funds for the seminar and was awarded a tuition grant from the summer institute organizers, as well as from SIPA, to attend the summer seminar.
“The seminar has lectures every day and there’s a large focus on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which is what I want to focus on with my dissertation,” said Balos. “The program is great exposure, especially with the contemporary challenges that we face today, and it is the ideal place for me to be."
The program provides a balanced approach in studying energy and the environment. BSES instructors and speakers are leading national and international experts from academia, public and private sectors. Some of these include world renowned scholars in the field of energy and environment from different universities, ministers and heads of governmental agencies from different departments and executives of oil companies, such as SOCAR, BP, Exxon, among others.
“The seminar brings together the agents of the energy sector to discuss competing discourses of energy and security to enact mechanisms for greater security of supply,” said Balos. “I believe Azerbaijan and the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia occupy the most important position to the future of international politics; this region is a flashpoint for change with global repercussions for the market and political structure.” Balos hopes to better understand the practical challenges in the energy sector from the leading professionals in the fields, while also becoming personally acquainted with the BTC pipeline and Azerbaijan – the heart of her dissertation proposal.
“I don’t know many people in the industry and, as someone who’s so young and not very exposed to what’s necessary and important, I feel like this is the opportunity to learn,” she said. “Every lecture has a topical theme necessary for me to understand the dimensions of what is required for my study. BSES is the place to do this; it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”