CFP: Fifth Undergraduate Research Conference in German Studies

We would like to announce the Fifth Undergraduate Research Conference in German Studies on Saturday, April 18, 2015. This year the conference, co-organized by Lafayette College and Moravian College, will take place at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

This conference will give students the opportunity to present their research in all German-related fields, including but not limited to the study of German literature, film and culture, art history, music, philosophy, history and politics.

Format: we consider proposals for research papers and posters.

Papers and posters can be presented in either German or English.

Paper presentations may not exceed 15 minutes (2000 to 2500 words). Posters should include a thesis statement, short reference to literature and primary materials, a discussion of the methodology and results.

Please send your proposal of 250-300 words to Axel Hildebrandt at hildebrandta@moravian.edu by December 15, 2014.

The proposal should include:

  • The title of the paper or poster
  • Concise thesis statement
  • Short list of primary and secondary sources (bibliography)
  • Anticipated findings

The program committee will notify accepted applicants by January 25, 2015. For more information and updates, please contact Axel Hildebrandt at hildebrandta@moravian.edu.

Axel Hildebrandt, Associate Professor of German, Moravian College
Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, Professor of German, Lafayette College
Heikki Lempa, Associate Professor of History, Moravian College

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CFP: Berkeley Prize for Undergraduate Essays in German

BURG/es is pleased to announce the following opportunity for undergraduates:
The Berkeley Undergraduate Essay Prize is awarded annually by the Department of German for outstanding unpublished papers written during the previous calendar year by undergraduate students enrolled at a North American university/college. Thus the 2015 prize will consider papers written during 2014 on a broad range of topics in German studies. The winning essays carry a cash award of $500 each and will be considered for publication in the department’s electronic journal TRANSIT.

Essays for submission may be written in German or in English; one submission per student. They should be double-spaced, between 3000 and 5000 words in length (including notes and references), and without the student’s name on the paper, since the Awards Committee reads the essays anonymously. A separate cover sheet with the student’s name, major, year of study, title of the paper, address, phone number, e-address, and plans for graduate school (if applicable) should accompany the essay. The essay may be submitted in hard copy or electronically.

The paper has to have been written in the 16 months prior to the essay deadline.

The submission deadline is March 13, 2015; winners announced May 1. Send to:

Undergraduate Essay Prize
Attn: Nadia Samadi
German Department
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3243
e-address: germanic@berkeley.edu

The Berkeley Prize for Undergraduate Essays in German Studies

BURG/es is happy to announce a new prize recognizing outstanding undergraduate research from the Department of German at the University of California Berkeley. The announcement from UC-Berkeley is below, including contact information for further questions.

The Berkeley Prize for Undergraduate Essays in German Studies

The Berkeley Undergraduate Essay Prize is awarded annually by the Department of German for outstanding unpublished papers written during the previous calendar year by undergraduate students enrolled at a North American university/college. Thus the 2014 prize will consider papers written during 2013 on a broad range of topics in German studies. The winning essays carry a cash award of $500 each and will be considered for publication in the department’s electronic journal TRANSIT (http://german.berkeley.edu/transit).

Essays for submission may be written in German or in English; one submission per student. They should be double-spaced, between 3000 and 5000 words in length (including notes and references), and without the student’s name on the paper, since the Awards Committee reads the essays anonymously. A separate cover sheet with the student’s name, title of the paper, address, phone number, and e-address should accompany the submitted essay. The essay may be submitted in hard copy or electronically. The submission deadline is February 15, 2014; winners announced May 2. Send to:

Undergraduate Essay Prize

Attn: Nadia Samadi

German Department

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA 94720-3243

e-address: germanic@berkeley.edu

Undergraduate Research and German Studies

The reforms of Wilhelm von Humboldt created the modern university two centuries ago with the model of combining research and teaching. In practice, however, this two-fold focus has been concentrated on faculty and graduate students. For most of the past two hundred years, undergraduate education was frequently conceptualized as the transfer of knowledge from expert professors (or graduate students) to undergraduate students. In recent decades, this model has shifted significantly. In its place, a dynamic relationship has emerged in which the professor serves as a facilitator, guiding students through stages of skill development with the eventual goal (usually in the form of a capstone project or experience) of mastering the techniques and developing the habits required to carry out research.

Increasingly, research and knowledge creation (and not just knowledge absorption) are key goals for our undergraduate students. On the one hand, creating and encouraging opportunities for students to participate in this knowledge creation is an increasingly essential element of the evolving nature of German Studies. The sort of professionalization that used to be started in graduate school is slowly working its way down to the undergraduate level. On the other hand, training undergraduate students in the sort of critical thinking and methodological analysis of our field serves a greater purpose; namely preparing undergraduate students to finish a Bachelor’s with the ability to process and analyze information in an increasingly information-rich society.

Furthermore, recent studies have shown how hands-on research can enhance retention, build skills, and enrich the undergraduate experience. The chance to engage in research allows students to practice research techniques, source analysis, and persuasive writing. As students develop their research topics, they are also able to bring their own expertise to class discussions and analysis of assigned texts. More importantly, however, many students involved in independent research gain a new passion for their studies, a renewed sense of accomplishment, and a new understanding of the methods of their discipline.

Perhaps most importantly, the benefits for students and the excitement such research can create for undergraduates could serve as a key strategy for rebuilding German Studies. Since the 1990s, declines in undergraduate enrollments have created a series of crises within our field. Ever worried that the decline of German Studies in the US is on the horizon, our field has sought ways to stay innovative from our foreign language teaching to our highly interdisciplinary research agendas. The promotion and expansion of undergraduate research could serve as a means to reinvigorate German Studies, build enrollments and reestablish our field as one central to the educational mission we serve in our larger institutional contexts.

This forum seeks to serve faculty by sharing experiences and research regarding the incorporation of original and independent research at the undergraduate level. Its topics will range from classroom examples and studies to larger institutional and cultural changes which have – or must in the near future – take place in order to support this burgeoning educational model in American higher education. The initial contributions cover a broad swath of topics and contexts. These include institutional settings ranging from small liberal arts colleges to large state universities. The projects covered are as common as daily, in-class exercises to guide undergraduate research or as unique as an annual regional undergraduate conference on interdisciplinary research relating to German Studies.