Ecocriticism, Community Engagement and the Future of Germany Studies

Submitted by Michael Neininger on
Mississippi River, Minneapolis

At the end of October, I traveled to Minneapolis to participate in a symposium on “Ecocriticism, Community Engagement and the Future of Germany Studies” organized by the University of Minnesota. The panel discussions with other scholars and graduate students from institutions from across North America sparked discussions on how to create courses and exchange programs that translate current research on literature and the environment into projects that can also create an impact outside of academia. For my panel, I presented on our very own “Diversity in the Anthropocene” seminar that was originally created by Sabine Wilke and in which we teach environmental topics in the context of German culture. In this class, students work in teams and create group projects that go beyond written assignments when they design graphic novels, or film advocacy spots that promote awareness for climate change, food waste, or garbage.  Learning about the courses from other instructors gave me new ideas on how to revise our own literature and language classes and incorporate recent cultural and environmental issues in Germany. However, it was also a great opportunity to meet scholars from other institutions, and connect personally on a walk through downtown Minneapolis along the Mississippi river.