German Department Statement on Diversity and the Curriculum

The German Department approaches curricular diversity within a framework of humanities learning. Humanities learning is conceptualized as the intersection of three dimensions: a) content, b) multiple perspectives on this content, and c) a reflective stance on these multiple perspectives.[1] Over the years, we have made a concerted effort to integrate a broad variety of perspectives and materials at all levels of our curriculum, coupled with pedagogies that nurture a reflective stance. This is an iterative process that continues as the curriculum is regularly updated and recast.

Diversity of perspectives understood within the framework of this concept of humanities learning is an essential part of such learning and therefore highly desirable and valued. It also informs the research agendas pursued by the members of the Department.

Diversity encompasses many things and qualities. It includes differences in ethnic and national background, experience of racism, including antisemitism, gender, sexuality, economic and class standing, migration status, and (dis)ability etc. One aspect particular for German Studies is the fact that diversity also includes German-speaking communities beyond the Federal Republic itself, for example, in Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and South Tyrol/Italy.

All courses in the first four levels of our five-level curriculum (i.e., ‘departmentally owned’ courses) integrate aspects of diversity as explained above. 

Upper-level (200+) undergraduate courses and graduate courses regularly include aspects of diversity and often make them a focal point. This includes regular inclusion of texts from all Germanophone traditions, the changing representations of minority characters in popular culture, various aspects of feminist and/or gender-studies perspectives in the German-language traditions, Black-German literature, heteronormativity, German-Jewish perspectives, and Germany’s colonial past.

[1] See D. Joseph Cunningham, Peter C. Pfeiffer, and Marianna Ryshina-Pankova, “Assessing Humanities Learning in an Integrated Undergraduate German Curriculum,” Unterrichtspraxis 51.2 (Fall 2018): 144-155.