We are mindful of our position as a foreign language and culture department within the increasingly diverse American context. In that awareness we attempt in our teaching, research, and advising to tap the creative energy that arises from cultural differences–not only between the U.S. and the German-speaking nations of Europe, but also among the multi-ethnic cultural communities that our students represent. Hence we understand the nature of our enterprise to be emphatically intercultural. All of our instruction, from the most elementary language courses to the most advanced seminars and dissertation advising, reflects this.
Our overriding concern is to stimulate students to think critically. We want them to reflect on their own cultures as they encounter new ones in our courses and through study abroad. An important part of this unique learning experience is attempting to confront and understand the role of culture in the histories of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland–with their abysmal failures and moments of greatness, as well as their fair share of normality. In view of the Holocaust, we devote much energy to understanding critically the rhetoric of exclusion and the way in which cultural marginalization is dealt with today. Since all the German-speaking countries have now become multicultural societies, we focus on ethnic and cultural diversity and on the different ways in which the U.S. and Europe deal with such issues as immigration, minority rights, citizenship and cultural identity.
Questions centering around a new multiethnic Germany have recently become a major research focus in our department. Please see our website on Multicultural Germany.