Strauss Selected for Fulbright Seminar
Carol Strauss (Modern Languages and Literatures) is one of only 15 faculty nationwide selected to participate in the Fulbright Commission’s German Studies Seminar. The seminar will be held June 10-19 in the country’s capital and is titled “Berlin: Where Cultures Meet and Challenges Abound.” Strauss and other participants will explore how Germany’s political, economic and cultural systems deal with contemporary issues.
According to the Fulbright website, the governing mayor of Berlin once called the city “poor, but sexy.” The slogan has become a successful marketing tool to draw visitors to the city, making it the most popular German travel destination. It is rich in culture—nearly 200 museums, three opera houses and 16 universities—and historically significant as the region where Germany’s Prussian heritage originated and the Third Reich ruled.
“But the city lost its industrial base, the economy declined and there is high unemployment,” said Strauss, who has visited several times and spent time on both sides of the Wall before it came down. “Berlin has been slow in converting from an industrial base to a knowledge base. The city’s location made it the gateway to the west in the Cold War years and it’s still a gateway. Yet a great influx of Eastern European immigrants are still arriving there with no promise of jobs. There is a huge artist’s colony, in large part because rent is cheap. Berlin is culturally expansive. With the Wall, there were at least two of everything because each side needed higher education institutions, museums and theaters. I still consider it East and West. There’s a visible difference.”
Strauss has taught German at NMU since 2001, developed a proposal for the German studies major approved in 2010 and designed a faculty-led program in Vienna in collaboration with history faculty.
“I won’t know specifically what I can bring to the table until I’m there, but I do have education and program-building experience,” Strauss said. “The seminar will call upon our insights, but also educate us. It was a rigorous application process and will be an intensive 10 days in Berlin, but I am extremely excited to participate in this opportunity. I plan to incorporate what I learn into courses developed for our German Studies major, including one on German culture and civilization.”
While in Berlin, Strauss will also do research on Bettina von Arnim (1785-1859), a German writer, composer, visual artist and social activist. Strauss became interested in her life and works while doing research on 18th and 19th century women’s education.