28th Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference

Schul(d)en: Guilt, Debt, Education

Stretching across 200,000 square feet in the heart of Berlin, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was inaugurated in 2005, sixty years after the European conclusion of World War II. The monument, funded by the German federal government at a cost of approximately €27 million, is a site of both remembrance and education for many, including students who receive tours and participate in workshops.


This year’s conference finds inspiration in the German word Schuld and its connotations of both ‘guilt’ and ‘debt’ in English, and further seeks to connect Schuld to education, and its role in recognizing, atoning for, or disregarding guilt and debt. This might include the economic realities of gaining an education; language used to educate about or obscure tragedies, victims, or survivors; curricula that center the experiences of trauma survivors; art, design, and architecture related to memory and guilt or debt – such as Stolpersteine – and their use in pedagogy; Denkmal and memory, etc. To this end, we ask: What are the goals of schooling with regards to guilt, debt, and historical trauma? Is gaining knowledge of debt and guilt itself a form of accountability, and if so, what role do educators play in addressing atrocities? What is owed to future generations, and who bears the burden of ensuring they receive it? Further, how are students affected by the guilt or debt they inherit as a result of their education, whether morally or financially?


For more information please email berkeleygermanconference@gmail.com.