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Message from the Director

Friday, September 7, 2018

Ten years ago a group of colleagues from different disciplines came together with a common interest in German Studies as a field pushing boundaries and engaging not only the humanities but also the sciences, economics, and engineering. We envisioned a scholarly forum for truly interdisciplinary research and to explore German Studies in its larger European and transatlantic contexts. We set out to create a platform that could broadly support the study of the German languages, literatures, and cultures and promote study-abroad opportunities in German-speaking countries at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Last but not least, we aimed to engage the broader university community, as well as the residents of Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the Commonwealth. Thus came to life the Center for German Studies, a vibrant community of scholars, students, professionals, and friends brought together by a wide range of interests connected to the German-speaking world.

Building on the Center’s constituencies and strengths, our goals revolve around the expansion of graduate and undergrad travel abroad programs, the fostering of international and interdisciplinary academic cooperation and exchange, and the building of excellence clusters in German Jewish Studies, Environmental Sustainability in Transatlantic Perspective, and on Discourse Networks and the Organization of Knowledge. The concentration of Center activities on these pillars of excellence will help us support the University’s efforts to create research capacities in the area of Environmental Humanities (with the help of the Mellon Foundation, several professorships are about to be established in this field), to broaden German Jewish Studies not least by creating new international contacts with Programs the Universities of Vienna and Graz, and by intensifying our ongoing research activities with the Ruhr-University of Bochum and the TU Dortmund regarding the formation and transformation of scientific paradigms in literature and the arts.

The vitality of our research cluster has shown itself in the many lectures, conferences, and workshops of the past ten years, such as our Generation Green lecture series on the German energy transformation, international conferences on topics such as "Approaching Revolutions," "Kafka" or "Sanctuary and Belonging," as well as in the many events co-hosted with the Jewish Studies Program and other departments here at UVa.

Our Center was also instrumental in conceptualizing and organizing a first University-wide Family Weekend Symposium on Grounds. Bringing together many UVa schools and programs, the two-day event explored conceptions of a more sustainable society by focusing on one of its central everyday objects: the automobile. Nationally and internationally prominent experts on sustainability joined UVa faculty to discuss alternative car technologies and fuels, as well as the effect of cars on our health, city planning, and culture. On-site exhibits featured the newest car technology and car-related projects by UVa students, and a pristine 1927 Model T convertible made available by UVa Law alumnus Peter Bernhardt. A University-wide prize competition challenged UVa's undergraduates to imagine the car of the future or a future without cars. Winners were announced by President Teresa A. Sullivan in front of a large audience. In cooperation with the Virginia Film Festival, the symposium concluded with a film screening of The Nature of Cities by UVa's Tim Beatley, followed by a discussion of the key challenges of urban mobility for the cities of the future. We are thankful to our many supporters, speakers, lecturers, scholars and interlocutors from the US and abroad who participated in so many ways in the creation of a vibrant German Studies community.

We invite you to participate in the events and programs of our Center. Your interests are our mission. The Center for German Studies thrives on an active community and on the enthusiasm of faculty and students. We are fortunate to have been supported by the University, and we are grateful to our private donors and friends who have made so many of our programs possible and who have given generous assistance to our students in their endeavors to study abroad. The Center for German Studies strives to be self-reliant, and we continue to successfully raise funds from foundations and individual supporters. Your participation, your enthusiasm, and your contribution will help the Center build upon its past achievements and continue to flourish. Please tell us how our Center can best serve your interests. We would love to hear from you!

We welcome you to the Center for German Studies community and look forward to your lively participation in its activities and in our vision for the future.


Manuela Achilles