Student Spotlight: Student photographer Sanyam Bajaj (MPP 2023)

Sanyam stands against a blue background, wearing a maroon hoodie with a white Hertie School logo on it.

Our new student photographer reflects on his motivation to study the MPP and ongoing photography projects in Berlin.

Those who have been on campus lately for class or a public event might have caught a glimpse of the friendly face of Sanyam Bajaj (MPP 2023), our new student assistant in communications and photography at the Hertie School. Navigating the worlds of policy and photography, he brings extensive experience working at the intersection of both art and politics. Get to know Sanyam in our interview below.

And remember: If you see Sanyam on campus with a camera in hand, feel free to say hello!

What made you choose the Master of Public Policy, and what will you specialise in?

Over the last 7 years, I have worked as a Senior Communications Associate, Photographer and Art Director. I have curated several events and conferences, mentored sustainability workshops and also designed campaigns for international organizations, NGOs as well as politicians in India, Europe and the USA. What truly sparked my interest in a master’s degree in public policy was when I officially documented the former Swiss President Doris Leuthard's visit to India. While interviewing her and other politicians, I discovered a gap in my understanding of policy at a macro level, which prompted me to join one of the best public policy programs in Europe. 

From a research perspective, I would like to specialize in bridging the gap between researchers/innovators and policymakers through the medium of art and also gain a deeper understanding of how different forms of art interface with socio-economic development.

Any exciting projects you’re working on at the Hertie School?

Through my course work and the student assistant job as a Communications Consultant and a Photographer, I have been working on several exciting projects at the Hertie School. Prof. Dr. Thurid Hustedt and Dr. Zoé von Finck's project course on Solving Cross-Cutting Issues in the Areas of Health, Climate, and Development is right up there. I have the privilege of working on a project titled “Solving and Understanding the Key Dilemmas of Humanitarian and Development Assistance in Afghanistan”. With the in-depth knowledge and professional experience of my professors, this has been a fascinating project to work on.

How have you pursued your passion for photography alongside your studies?

Living in one of the world's most prominent cities for contemporary art makes it easy to follow my passion for self-expression through photography.

In addition to officially documenting multinational events at Hertie School, I've been working on a personal project (alongside many other artists in Berlin) to foster change and strengthen political conversations, citizen involvement and demographic frameworks.

What is your favourite spot in Berlin?

Berlin has a distinct artsy hippy vibe that elevates my spirits no matter where I go in the city. But my favorite activities and spots to visit in Berlin are to bike around the lake at Urbanhafen, to unwind at "An einem Sonntag im August" bar in Prenzlauer Berg, and to close the week shopping at the Mauerpark flea market.

What is your favourite picture you’ve taken of Berlin?

That's a difficult one, to be honest. But there is one where I have merged three different photographs, bringing together different parts of my life in Berlin into one photo: A view from the Hertie School terrace, an architectural view of the Humboldt Forum and also the lake at Schloss Charlottenburg.

A black-and-white composite of three photographs depicting: the Hertie School terrace, the Humboldt Forum and the lake at Schloss Charlottenburg (in colour).
Photo by Sanyam Bajaj