Mini course on German topics for Dickinson alumni and others

Dr. Ludwig is offering a 4-class course titled “Peeks Into the German Psyche: What Germans Think About…”

This Global Experiences course explores some specific peculiarities of the historical German mindset on…

  • Feb. 15: America, Land of Capitalism
  • Feb. 22: The Environment
  • Mar. 1: Current Politics (i.e., the 2021 election)
  • Mar. 8: A Personal Stasi Story From Someone on Trial in the Former GDR

Free Webinar – “A Most Unusual Election: How the German Party System Works, and How it Led to the Results of the September Federal Elections – the First of the Post-Merkel Era”

by Dr. Janine Ludwig

In this webinar, Professor Janine Ludwig will explain the German party system and its complicated voting system. She’ll discuss what the parties stand for, which coalitions they normally prefer—conservative-liberal, red-green or grand. Then she’ll recall the thrilling events of a rollercoaster election campaign, in which three chancellor candidates and their parties gained and lost up to 10 percentage points in the polls, following severe mishaps. Finally, she’ll analyze the election results and why, for quite a while, it was not certain at all who would govern the country in the future. The only thing everyone was sure of was that it would be a new kind of coalition that had never been tried before and that, for the first time, the smaller parties would dictate who would become chancellor.

The webinar will take place on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 10 a.m. Eastern time (16 Uhr/4 p.m. in Germany).
You can register here by Sunday, Dec. 5.

Joining a German Language Program in Beautiful Heidelberg

by Brendan Harlan ’22

The Dickinson in Bremen (DiB) program has students begin their German abroad experience not in Bremen, but instead in another city. The German Fall semester doesn’t start until October, which is why it’s called the Winter semester, so Dickinson students have roughly five weeks between when they would usually start the Fall semester in Carlisle versus when classes begin in Bremen. That time is reserved for incoming DiB students to enroll in an intensive language course for four weeks, typically in a city of their choice. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic meant that DiB arranged for us current students to join a program in the beautiful city of Heidelberg. I couldn’t have been happier though.

I spent four weeks in Heidelberg in a language program that met five mornings a week. The course I was in usually catered to people looking to work in Germany and needing additional language skills to do so. I learned German alongside future Uni students from South Korea and Ecuador, a future cook from China, and a future doctor from Iraq. I was the only native English speaker and the lone student from North America. However, I enjoyed learning more about Germany from my teacher and hearing about my classmates’ pasts as we practiced our German speaking skills.

The program in Heidelberg also provided housing to its students. I lived in a single room on the third floor of a house that was roughly a 20-minute tram ride from the program’s classrooms. My floor consisted of a small kitchen and tinier bathroom that I shared with two doctors-in-training from Turkey and a postgrad German Studies student from Alabama. It was here that I was introduced to my first Putzplan (cleaning schedule) and I had a difficult time rummaging through cleaning supplies with their purposes written entirely in German. My room was awesome though and when the skylight was open, I liked being able to hear the passing trams at the end of the street.

I enjoyed noticing things that clearly differentiated Heidelberg from any US city I’d been to. The German elections happened at the end of September, so virtually every light pole in the city had a smattering of political signs up. In the grocery stores, it was expected that you bring your own bag or pay for either a reusable bag or a paper bag. I somehow managed to shop at four different grocery store chains (Aldi, Rewe, Edeka, and Penny) in Heidelberg, though I found myself challenged at each by needing to bag my own groceries as fast as possible. And yes, public transportation here is awesome and despite a few close calls, I also managed to avoid getting run over by a bicyclist when I would accidentally stand in the bike lane.

My other favorite parts of my time in Heidelberg included exploring the Altstadt, getting coffee in the city, and the various meals I had in the city or at my house. I took my camera to the Altstadt multiple times, where I visited the Schloss (castle), Alter Brücke (old bridge), and Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Way). My favorite photos of the Altstadt are already on this blog, so I won’t repeat post them here. The Altstadt was where I would see hundreds of tourists and I often (mentally) cursed the fact that Yankees hats are the fashionable baseball cap in Europe, not the Red Sox. I enjoyed a couple meals in the Altstadt too, including one with a view across the bridge and another beneath the shadows of one of the large steepled churches.

During the 20-minute daily break in my class, I would join my fellow students at the nearby Rieglers, a chain bakery/café where I could snag a cheap cappuchino and an Apfelstrudel for a snack (or breakfast). I also found a cool coffee shop called Kaffeezimmer, where I would go to study German or edit my photos while sipping at a coffee and eating cheesecake. The first time I went to Kaffeezimmer, I stumbled with my German and somehow said no thanks to the Wifi password, but it got better from then on.

I befriended three people living on the second floor of the house I lived in. The three included Uni Students from South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany. With the postgrad student from Alabama, the five of us shared some homecooked meals, where we would cook and talk together in both English and German. One night, I took over responsibility for choosing what to make for dinner, so we had hamburgers with an assortment of toppings and a copy-cat Big Mac sauce. We also had a night of Korean Kimbap, courtesy of the South Korean student, which I’d never had before but was crazy good.

After four weeks in Heidelberg, it was time to make my way to Bremen, to Bremen Hauptbahnhof.

Hallo Heidelberg!

Hallo from beautiful Heidelberg! This year’s Dickinson in Bremen students, Kathryn Baker ’23 and Brendan Harlan ’22 spent all of September doing intensive language courses in Heidelberg, Germany as a part of the Durden Dickinson in Bremen (DiB) program. Students typically choose the city in which they do an initial four week language program, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a course in Heidelberg was found this year for Kathryn and Brendan.

Heidelberg is known for its medical community and historic city center. The Altstadt, an old section of the city established in the Romantic time period, has been largely preserved. The Schlossruine (castle ruins) tower above the Altstadt, while the Alter Brücke (old bridge) leads across the Neckar River to the the Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Way), where key historical German figures have walked in the past, such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe.

Kathryn and Brendan had a great time exploring Heidelberg and appreciated the chance to begin their German immersion experience through exploring the city and engaging in their language classes. Both would love to return to the city again (especially because Brendan  misses his favorite coffee shop, Kaffeezimmer, while Kathryn misses the croissants at Rieglers).


50 Years of University of Bremen

© GfG / Gruppe für Gestaltung

This year marks the 50th birthday of the University of Bremen. To celebrate half a century of Uni Bremen, the university offers a wide range of various events throughout the year.

The “50 reasons WHY” exhibition (in German: “WARUM? DARUM.”) throughout 50 different locations in Bremen, which started in March and will close in August, displays all of the achievements of people from and with the University of Bremen as well as where the Uni is involved and how it has changed Bremen since 1971. As of October, the exhibition will be brought together in the Lower Town Hall.

The fall program involves a wide range of research and teaching topics under the headline “CAMPUS CITY” which is scheduled from October 14, 2021 – 50 years to the day after the university was founded. More information about CAMPUS CITY will follow soon.

Moreover, Uni Bremen has set up the project “#IchBinUniBremen” (in English: “#IAmUniBremen”) in order to present the ‘human side’ of the University of Bremen: 50 different individuals affiliated with the University of Bremen give personal insights into its past, present and future. The project page and its social media sites can be found here:


Further information about 50 Years of University of Bremen can be found here:

When we will be able to travel again… Part I

by Dr. Janine Ludwig

At some point, the pandemic will be over, and we will be able to travel again. When that will be possible, we are looking forward to offering rich academic excursions for our students again, one of them our annual excursion to Berlin. Please see here what students can expect to see and learn in Germany’s capital:

Our Berlin excursion is usually centered around the once divided Germany, German and GDR history, culture, literature, and the process of reunification. We meet with politicians such as the last Premier, t.i. Chairman of the Council of Ministers, of the German Democratic Republic (DDR), Hans Modrow, and others. We visit the former headquarters of the Ministry of State Security (MfS, often called Stasi), including Erich Mielke’s office which is still intact. In the archives and basement, we look through authentic Stasi files and visit the former Stasi prison Hohenschönhausen. Of course, we also delve into current German politics, meeting the assistant of the governmental Coordinator for Transatlantic Relations in the State Department and attending parliamentary sessions.

Globally Integrated Seminar – GIS

by Dr. Janine Ludwig

In response to the pandemic, Dickinson College developed the innovative format of the Globally Integrated Seminar (GIS) with many of our study-abroad sites. For Bremen, we are conducting a class on “Germany and the Cold War” this spring semester.

This seminar covers political and cultural developments in Germany throughout the 20th century. Through critical engagement with texts and films, we try to understand how people have felt about their times and the future, about modernity, about the block confrontation, their governments, and much more. We also occasionally examine the images of America that Germans produced at different times. The division of Germany, Europe and the world into East and West is discussed up to the revolution of 1989, which contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union and led to German reunification as well as the eastward expansion of the European Union.

In order to offer international experiences and discussions to our students, although they are currently unable to travel, we have invited several high-level German guests to the sessions to answer our students’ questions. In addition, the seminar is accompanied by intercultural workshops.


50 Years University of Bremen

© Torsten Bolik / Universität Bremen (University of Bremen August 1974)

This year, the University of Bremen is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In an interview with Bremen’s regional newspaper, Weser-Kurier, University of Bremen’s principal Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd Scholz-Reiter discusses how the Uni wants to celebrate its 50 years of existence.

“For us, 50 years of university means reflecting on what has happened here during this time, why the university exists at all, what it has done and continues to do for the city and society. What would be missing if the University of Bremen did not exist? Where do we want to go from here? What should the European university look like that we are building with seven other partners under the name “Young Universities for the Future of Europe”? We want to discuss these and similar questions this year, together with the citizens of this city and this state.”, Scholz-Reiter explains.

According to him, without Uni Bremen there would be fewer findings in a whole range of scientific fields that are based in Bremen and that provide important results and approaches for global research and development. If the university did not exist, Bremen as a location would look different – not only because of the employees of the university, but also because of the people who are educated here. The university has not only regional economic effects, but also regional structural effects.

“We want to use our anniversary as an opportunity to make citizens aware of the value of the university. But the anniversary also offers us the opportunity to celebrate ourselves a little, to strengthen our own identity and sense of belonging, and to look with pride at what we have achieved.”

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration this year, the University of Bremen is offering a series of events to experience the many facets of the university as a European research university and an inspiring place for education and teaching. Under the motto “We Bring the City to Our Campus and Turn the City into a Campus,” participants can visit events and exhibitions at a wide variety of locations, take part in seminars, and thus discover how closely the university is connected to Bremen’s everyday life.

All event formats are to take place analogously – as far as the situation in the pandemic allows – and will be adapted in time to the then valid Corona regulations.

The following events are planned as of now:

50 “Why? That’s why.”- venues: starting in spring 2021
Exhibition in the Lower Town Hall: October 2021

Location: Campus of the University of Bremen
Dates: June 7 – 13, 2021

Location: City of Bremen
Dates: October 14 – 31, 2021

Further information can be found here:,-universitaetsrektor-scholzreiter-wir-wollen-unsere-vielfalt-zeigen-_arid,1953338.html

Nature Index: Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Bremen at the Top

© Michael Ihle/ Universität Bremen

In the current Nature Index ranking, the University of Bremen is among the top 5 German research institutes for earth and environmental sciences. The index from the scientific journal Nature is based on article publications in renowned journals.

Once more, the University of Bremen has shown its research expertise with a great position in one of the most important scientific rankings. There are only two universities among the top five national research institutes – the University of Bayreuth and the University of Bremen.

The ranking by the British science journal Nature is based on 2019 and lists which nature and life science research institutes have the most publications. The University of Bremen has again shown the high quality of its scientific publications in the field of earth and environmental sciences. The Nature Index 2020 lists universities, research institutes, and non-academic institutes according to their publications in 82 of the leading scientific journals in the year 2019.

“A Great Success for our Climate University”

Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter, president of the University of Bremen, is pleased about this great placement: “It is a great success for our climate-conscious university and a further confirmation of the outstanding work that is being doing in earth and environmental sciences here. The fantastic positioning shows that our research institute is recognized both nationally and internationally. The University of Bremen is a member of the renowned circle of global climate universities. The Nature Index once more shows our position as a climate-conscious institute.”

Further information can be found here:

Press release by Christina Selzer, Universität Bremen

Excellent Teaching at University of Bremen under COVID-19 Circumstances

© Universität Bremen

Teaching is challenging in times of a pandemic. At the university, this is recognized by the Berninghausen Prize. Therefore, this year, there is not only the traditional student prize. Two teaching staff also receive an award in the category “excellent teaching under COVID-19 circumstances”.

The longtime university music director Dr. Susanne Gläß and the political scholar Sebastian Möller are each awarded a prize in the category “excellent teaching under COVID-19 circumstances”. The traditional student prize is awarded to the didactics of mathematics professor Maike Vollstedt. The three awards are endowed with 2,000 euros each. At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the traditional award ceremony will be held as a public online event. Anyone interested in participating is most welcome. A total of 135 proposals were submitted. A selection committee, consisting of teaching staff, other university employees, and students, reviewed the proposals and nominated the award winners who were involved in the following projects and topics:

“Ravel’s Boléro”: An Orchestra Goes Online

What do you do with the already planned orchestra project in times of corona? This was the challenge faced by Susanne Gläß in her teaching project last summer semester. In the end, she managed to establish the project “Ravel’s Boléro” and thus create an alternative for live orchestra playing. “It is possible to hold a lecture online”, she says. “But playing digitally in an orchestra in real time is technically impossible so far.” Nonetheless, the longtime university music director came up with an idea for a digital alternative that could almost make up for the missing coordinated listening usually needed when playing live in an orchestra: She developed an alternative method in which the orchestral parts were recorded individually one after the other and then assembled on the computer immediately after each individual recording. The recordings were made by the orchestra members individually at home. This was accompanied by weekly video conferences where musical composition and technical recording problems were discussed. Gläß received technical support from a professional team: Alumnus Gerd Anders, bugler of the orchestra and sound technician by profession, Simon Knobbe, trumpet player of the orchestra and freshly graduated in Master of Electrical Engineering, and for video editing, Jan-Hendrik von Stemm, administrative staff of the university music department. The result was presented in the St. Stephani culture church in the period from June 27 until July 18, 2020 at 21 different occasions. The individually recorded tracks were played back from 34 loudspeakers. In compliance with the hygienic regulations, the audience could walk between these speakers and distinguish the individual instruments that the human ear would not be able to filter out during normal orchestral performances. The 50 orchestra members benefited in many ways from the project: They were able to get acquainted with new forms of musical production, could improve their own performance by repeating their recording up to ten times, maintain intensive contact with the rest of the group, and enjoy the creative experience. Additionally, a video sound collage was produced and uploaded on YouTube. The jury was thoroughly impressed by this project, which would not have taken place without COVID-19.

Port Blog and Learning Videos instead of Excursions

“Key to the World: Bremen’s Ports in the Global, Political Economy”: This is the seminar title of an interdisciplinary exploration tour through the fascinating world of ports, which the political scholar Sebastian Möller had to convert to a digital port seminar in the summer semester due to the corona pandemic. “Unfortunately, the pandemic suddenly put an end to my plans for excursions and field trips to the ports”, he remembers. “In order to still encourage interest in empirical questions, I have used learning videos, recorded interviews with port stakeholders, and the port blog.” An introductory post by him was published on the blog before each course session. Students then created their own short contributions or podcasts on this topic, drawing on various empirical data and, in some cases, conducting their own interviews. In this way, students were able to engage in a research-based learning process even in times of the pandemic and did not just sit in Zoom meetings all the time. To support this, the port blog provided an extensive list of research data, links, and literature, and animated the students to participate by means of photo quizzes and port news. “My students have created some very intriguing blog posts and podcasts, and I have already learned a great deal from my students. I would have much preferred a face-to-face port seminar though”, says Möller. According to the jury, the students especially praised Sebastian Möller’s flexible and very successful re-organization and planning of the seminar under COVID-19 conditions. Particular emphasis is placed on the port blog, which is a lasting testimony to the students’ learning success and has also encouraged other interested parties to visit and explore. Some of the students’ contributions will soon be published as working papers. Sebastian Möller’s commitment went far beyond of what is required of a tutor.

Student Prize for “Thinking and Acting Mathematically”

“Thinking and Acting Mathematically” is the name of the seminar, for which Professor Maike Vollstedt receives the student prize. The module includes didactic aspects of current research areas in mathematics such as the psychology of learning mathematics. In the seminar, Vollstedt and her students looked beyond their own horizons. She established a link to topics in educational psychology. The goal was for her students to continue to be able to experience what constitutes science and which activities researchers pursue. The original concept was developed by a colleague from the computer sciences, Professor Susanne Maaß, and then transferred and adapted to the needs of the field of didactics of mathematics by Maike Vollstedt. The concept includes the exploration of a topic area by the students, as well as the organization and realization of a student conference, at which the students’ own findings were presented. According to the jury, this project strongly encouraged independent, creative, and critical thinking. The students emphasized Maike Vollstedt’s commitment in their statement. She distinguished herself by a high degree of responsiveness, so that intensive consultation and support were possible at all times.

Thanks to Student

“The student prize is very special to me, since being a specialist in didactics, excellent teaching is naturally very close to my heart,” says Vollstedt. “My heartfelt thanks go to the students for this great course: The conference seminar could only happen because of their extremely dedicated commitment, which was by no means something to be taken for granted.”

About the Berninghausen Prize

Every year, the University of Bremen and the “unifreunde” friends of the University of Bremen and Jacobs University award the Berninghausen Prize. The prize, which was established by the family Berninghausen in 1991, honors special achievements in university teaching. Endowed with 6,000 euros, the prize can be awarded in several categories. All members of the university can nominate members of the teaching faculty for the prize, whereby in the category “student prize”, only the students are allowed to do so.

Further Information can be found here:

Press release by Meike Mossig, Universität Bremen