“What can I do with a German Studies Major?” — It’s not atypical at this time of the year to receive e-mails that either implicitly or directly ask this question. And to those of you who are asking, thank you! You initiate an important dialogue about the benefits of liberal-arts learning and the role of foreign language and culture in the liberal arts curriculum. Of course, there is always a particularly spectacular career path that I could tell you about, or that job which involves jetting back and forth between Washington and Berlin. Yet, what’s really important is to consider learning foreign languages and cultures not as an added skill that looks good on your resumé (although it does!) but as core element of your education that shapes the way you think and solve problems. Over the next couple of weeks, I will use this blog to highlight examples where this convergence of knowing a foreign language and culture as well as having both breadth and depth in other disciplines matters.
While reading today’s NYT I stumbled across the first example, an op-ed piece titled “What We Learned from German Prisons.” Nicholas Turner, president of the Vera Institute of Justice, and Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, write about their experience as co-leaders of a bipartisan US-delegation that visited German prisons in order to learn about the German prison system. Their conclusion is simple: Germany is doing a much better job of returning offenders to society, thereby keeping prison populations and costs low. Why is that, the authors wonder?
For all interested students, including German 101: Where can you study abroad in German-speaking countries? Get up-to-date info from German and Austrian exchange students and American study-abroad “veterans”. See the flyer for details and e-mail Dr. Barbara Drescher at firstname.lastname@example.org with additional questions.
Professor Christoph Ehland from the University of Paderborn, Germany, will deliver a lecture, “Two World Wars & The Making of Stereotypical Germans in British and American Culture.”
Thursday, February 7, 6-7pm in Bullock Science, Teasley Lecture Hall (G-09). The event is free and open to the public.
The week of October 1-5 features a series of German-related events you don’t want to miss!
In 2011 Germany celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first guest worker treaty. (At ASC we marked that historical moment with two lectures by historian Rita Chin and German-Turkish author Yadé Kara.)
In 2012 it seems as if history will repeat itself, albeit in a different context. Following the great recession that began in 2008, Europe’s governing bodies have imposed stringent austerity measures on the EU’s member nations. These measures hit the already weak economies around the Mediterranean the most, resulting in 20+ percent unemployment rates in Greece, Spain, and areas of Portugal. Germany, in the meantime, is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers and has begun looking south once again to increase its labor pool:
In the last 18 months, it has recruited thousands of the Continent’s best and brightest to this postcard-perfect town and many others like it, a migration of highly qualified young job-seekers that could set back Europe’s stragglers even more, while giving Germany a further leg up.
Read more about this new wave of labor migration in this NYT article.
Great article in the NYT about the big Gerhard Richter exhibition at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Richter will turn 80 this month, and the show offers a big retrospective of his impressive work.
Here’s an interview with Gerhard Richter from 2006 (in English):
Today’s NYT has an article featuring Evan Kaufmann, Minnesota-born hockey player who is now on Germany’s national team. While an accelerated trading of citizenships is not uncommon in the world of sports, Kaufmann’s case sticks out because of his family history: His great-grandparents and one grandparent had been murdered by the Nazis.
While representatives of the German Jewish community overwhelmingly welcome the move. In their eyes it re-affirms the role of Jewish citizens as “normal” in all parts of German society.
Representatives of survivor groups are not as unambiguous:
“I have mixed emotions,” said Menachem Z. Rosensaft, a New York lawyer who is the vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. “I think everyone has to make his own decisions in this respect. It is clear for Kaufmann that hockey is the most important priority. Just like there are Israelis or other Jews who have settled in Germany out of economic or career convenience, he is doing the same. I do not presume to judge him.”
At the same time, Rosensaft said he felt “a bitter aftertaste and a certain degree of sadness” for Kaufmann. “He has effectively turned his back on the United States and has willingly taken on citizenship to identify henceforth as a German,” Rosensaft said. “That, in terms of his family history, is at best a somber reality. There is a question in my mind whether a Jew should voluntarily go to Germany and take on that role.”
To read the full article click here.
Here’s a clip showing Kaufmann answering some interview questions in German (scene with Kaufmann starts at 3:07min):
The Emory Jewish Studies Department will host an event that might be of interest to ASC’s students, especially those in German Studies, History, IR, Political Science, and Religious Studies:
As a follow-up to the French-German event in Atlanta last Thursday, listen to This American Life’s feature on the history of the Euro. Told in an entertaining and accessible way, the piece contains a lot of helpful historical information.
As I mentioned to students again and again, the Weimar Republic just won’t stop shaping contemporary Germany’s actions. The New York Times’ Joe Nocera has an interesting op-ed in which he compares Germany’s current unwillingness to repress moralistic impulses in favor of pragmatic economics with the Allied nations’ insistence that Germany keep paying its high reparations after World War I. Read the full article here.