The premise behind this seminar is that Berlin (and, for that matter, Germany) is not
now and has never been a city composed exclusively of ethnic Germans. In other words,
Germany does not correspond to the stereotype that might still exist among your
prospective students and their parents. In fact, in ways that Germans themselves are
sometimes reluctant to admit, German-speaking central Europe has long been home to
French Huguenots, Poles, Western- and Eastern-European Jews, as well as more recent
migrants from Italy, the former Yugoslavia, Russia and Turkey, to mention but a few
examples of Berlin's cosmopolitan heritage. If we think of Berlin not just as Germany’s
capital city, but also as its cosmopolitan capital, we would take into account both the rich
cultural life of this multi-national city and the multi-faceted human capital that enabled the
growth and development of the German economy.
Issues of migration and multi-culturalism are controversial and at the same time
vitally important in Germany, Europe and the United States, and this seminar will be using
the tools of the humanities to explore how German culture has been challenged, defined and
redefined by its encounters with migrants over the past two centuries. Berlin is our location
and prime example, but the lessons hold true for the rest of Germany. The seminar is
intended to give our NEH Summer Scholars the knowledge and skills necessary to fully
engage contemporary Germany's complex social and cultural reality in the classroom,
particularly by acquainting a select group of American teachers with a wider array of
literature, film and television than would normally fit into the canon. Our aim dovetails with
a recent initiative by the AATG, Alle lernen Deutsch, which seeks to provide teachers with a"culturally relevant pedagogy that would advance intercultural awareness in German classes
and increase the involvement of underrepresented populations in German studies."
Essentially, we want participants to know in considerable depth why the German textbooks
now include names like Hasan and Fatma, and we know of no better place than Berlin to let
the tensions and promises of contemporary Germany come alive.
Here's what two of the 2012 Summer Scholars had to say about their experiences:
"As a new German teacher, I felt that this seminar not only gave me materials I could use to teach my students about multiculturalism in Germany, but it also led me to think critically about the other materials I would use in my classroom and how I will represent German culture to my students. This was truly an invaluable experience for my development in the teaching profession, and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in this seminar."
"This experience was excellent. I'm very grateful to have had an opportunity to study multiculturalism in depth with a great team of colleagues. It gave me an opportunity to think and analyze scholarship at a high level, and challenged me to grow as a scholar. Berlin gave me the resources and time to take what I'm learning and apply it to my vision for my classroom next year, especially when trying to create ways for students. . .to connect with what it means to be critical thinkers and globally aware."