GERMANY'S FOREMOST SOCIAL HISTORIAN TO DISSECT UNIFICATION DURING INAUGURAL LECTURE OF CANADIAN CENTRE FOR GERMAN AND EUROPEAN STUDIES
TORONTO, October 29, 1997 -- Germany's leading social historian will visit York University to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, probing the kinds of compelling, contemporary issues that will be researched at the new Centre.
Professor Dr. Jurgen Kocka of the Free University of Berlin will deliver his lecture, entitled "Divided Memories: Historical Consciousness and German Unification" , on Mon., Nov. 3, 3 p.m., Moot Court, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. Kocka is uniquely placed to examine this issue, having recently published a book on the unification crisis. His lecture will reflect on Germany as it approaches the 10th anniversary of its reunification, suggesting that two Germanys remain in the minds of its people as they try to integrate their past with their present.
The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies is a Canada-wide research and teaching resource, focussing on contemporary Germany in its European context. Established in 1997 after a nationwide academic competition involving Canada's leading universities, the Centre is a cooperative initiative of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), l'Universite de Montreal, and York University. York and UdeM have joined the ranks of Harvard, Berkeley, and Georgetown, universities which house the three DAAD-administered German and European Studies centres in the United States.
"This inaugural lecture is precisely the kind of endeavour we envisioned for this Centre: academically compelling and cutting-edge; interdisciplinary; and pertaining to crucial contemporary issues," said the Centre's Director for York , Professor Mark Webber. "How has unification affected the economy of Germany? Are Germans coming together as a society or drifting apart? What will Germany's role be in the new Europe and globally?"
"Today's lecture is both a symbolic and substantive step in building the strength of this important Centre. Behind it stands the interdisciplinary strength and innovation of both York and our partner, l'Universite de Montreal," said York University President Dr. Lorna Marsden. "The research and teaching Centre, which will draw upon scholars from across Canada and Germany, will become a national resource, training future scholars, researchers, diplomats and journalists in matters German and European," she added.
The Centre and its associated curriculum at both universities have three principal goals:
Webber said that 'German Studies' can never be the same after 1989. And as the older generation of experts on Germany and Europe rapidly nears retirement, Canada needs a new kind of scholarship and a new generation of scholars to study and to interact with the changed Europe after the end of the Cold War. The tensions of integration between East and West in Germany and Europe demand new forms of scholarly attention. And the globalization of economics and culture poses new questions to scholars and policy-makers in Europe and Canada.
DAAD President Prof. Dr. Theodor Berchem said that York and UdeM, both leaders in the field of interdisciplinary German Studies in Canada, are superbly and specifically suited to undertake this challenge. Berchem said York and UdeM have led the way in areas that matter much in contemporary Germany and Europe: ethnic, immigration and refugee studies; international and strategic studies; constitutional and public policy studies of issues in federal states, and cultural studies.
"We wanted to enhance interdisciplinary study of contemporary German and European issues at Canadian universities," said Berchem. "In the combined effort of UdeM and York, we found partner institutions willing and able to help us reach this goal. They offer a rich and stimulating academic environment, highest standing in teaching and research, a bilingual atmosphere and an established academic network in and between Canada and Europe to foster and disseminate this agenda," he said.
The primarily government-funded DAAD is an association of Germany's post-secondary institutions whose mission is to promote international academic exchanges through scholarships, research grants, visiting professorships, and support of conferences and curriculum development in Germany and abroad. The project has a combined $8 million commitment over ten years from the DAAD, the two operating institutions and third party support. The funding will be applied to academic appointments, student exchanges, summer institutes, conferences, scholarships, a documentation and resource centre, and outreach activities.
The Centre is attracting scholars from the fields of political science, sociology, history, philosophy, art, drama and music history, German language and literature, economics, geography, women's studies, Jewish studies, environmental studies and law. It will offer graduate level specialist certification in German and European Studies and seminars for business leaders, journalists and others. Students started studying through the Centre this fall.
Dr. Marsden said it is becoming increasingly important for Canada's leaders to acquire a comprehensive, ontemporary understanding of Germany. This need relates not only to the fact that Germany is one of the world's great economic and cultural centres, but also to the wider context in which Germany plays a leading role in European unification, she said.
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