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Dates, Topics, Instructors

FU-BEST Digital Lecture Series Schedule

Our free digital lecture series, designed to give you a broad overview of FU-BEST’s academic course offerings, features four parts: Each month is dedicated to a specific theme (see schedule below, also available as pdf) which will be dealt with each Wednesday by different FU-BEST instructors from the perspective of their respective discipline (or German language level in the month of December). You will thus be able to explore various facets of overarching issues and themes relevant to European Studies in Berlin and Germany today, in line with the interdisciplinary approach of our study abroad program.

All lectures will offer you insights into the instructors’ semester-long regular courses within the FU-BEST Program, their learning objectives and guiding research questions, and the way in which they integrate Berlin as a cultural and historical location into the semester.

We hope you enjoy the online program we have assembled for you – information on the regular FU-BEST course corresponding to each lecture as well as our instructors is available in each lecture description below. For more details about the FU-BEST Program as a whole and how to participate in person, please explore our website in full.

"European Studies in Berlin – Where Else?"

All sessions are approx. 45 mins. long. The subject course lectures (September through November) are recorded in advance. The interactive German language sessions (December) are presented live (please register at least one week prior to the event to receive an access code for the live sessions).

Part I: "Europe, Germany, Berlin: Coming to Terms with the Past to Shape the Future"

How did Berlin come to look the way it does today? Considering Berlin a model for the development of a European capital in modern times, this lecture provides an overview of the development of public and private architecture in Berlin during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The interdependence of Berlin’s architecture and the city’s social and political structures will be illustrated with examples of buildings and sites in the cityscape’s historical evolution – so virtually walk the streets of Berlin with us!

Instructor: Dr.-Ing. Gernot Weckherlin
Regular FU-BEST Course: Architecture in Berlin from the 19th Century to Today (FU-BEST 12)

For the recording of this session, please click here.

One of the key questions related to the study of European and German history of the 20th century in particular is: Under what conditions did some individuals manage to offer resistance to atrocities such as happened in the Holocaust? And why did large masses ignore or even support blatant inhumanities and injustice? Understanding the underlying psychological aspects remains acutely important even in our democratic societies today, in which compliance, conformity, and indifference sometimes still seems to be the easiest way out of stress and insecurity.

Instructor: Dr. Thomas Werneke 
Regular FU-BEST Course: The Human Condition and the Totalitarian Experience (FU-BEST 6)
Online Course Spring 2021: The Human Condition and the Totalitarian Experience

For the recording of this session, please click here.

80 years after millions of Jews were murdered in the concentration and extermination camps and on German streets, Jewish life and culture in Central Europe has yet again diversified greatly and new voices make themselves heard. However, no Jewish intellectual can speak out without relating, one way or another, critically or nostalgically, to that great and tragic German Jewish legacy of the past. This lecture will give an overview of German-Jewish thinking and culture from the past and the present and introduce key writers, many of whom live(d) in Berlin.

Instructor: Christoph Kapp
Regular FU-BEST Course: Jewish Life in Central Europe (FU-BEST 25) 

For the recording of this session, please click here.

How do states and societies draw lessons for the future from historical events, and what role did (and does) law play in the peaceful rebuilding of Europe after the wars and political transformations of the 20th and early 21st century? This lecture will look at European legal history shaped by (and shaping) war and peace agreements as well as the legal and political change processes that have occurred in the countries of the former Communist bloc since 1989. Eventually arriving in the present, we will take a glimpse at the European Union’s potential as a common European legal space.

Instructor: Maximilian Wagner
Regular FU-BEST Course: European Legal Traditions (FU-BEST 17)

For a recording of this session, please click here.

Part II: "A Caleidoscope of Identities: Europe, Germany, and Berlin Today"

Modern German history is a useful vantage point for exploring European developments during the 20th century. This lecture will take a look at the German and European contest(s) between democracy and dictatorship and the related tension between freedom and security in changing times under different political regimes up to the present day. Given the profound and paradoxical impact which Germany has had on the trajectories of European history, which role can it, does it, and perhaps must it play in Europe today because of lessons learned from its past and its multiple transformations?

Instructor: Dr. Martin Jander
Regular FU-BEST Course: Modern German History in European Context: A Thematic Approach (FU-BEST 8)
Online Course Spring 2021: To Hell and Back: Germany and Europe in the 19th & 20th Century

For a recording of this session, please click here.

This lecture will explore how popular culture reflects social and political developments in Germany and take as examples the present-day phenomena of hip hop and street art. How do young artists express contemporary youth identity (or identities), and in how far do they use their art to criticize or contribute to the public discourse about their (sub)culture? Which role do hip hop and street art play as expressions of ethnicity in the public sphere, and how do such manifestations of youth identity compare between Europe/Germany and America?

Instructor: Dr. Karolina Golimowska
Regular FU-BEST Course: Pop Culture: European-American Trends (FU-BEST 20)
Online Course Spring 2021: Understanding Pop Culture: European-American Encounters

For a recording of this session, please click here.

This lecture will take a closer look at Berlin’s Muslim community and at the dynamic way their identity has been formed and negotiated vis-à-vis other identities in this multicultural city in the 20th and the early 21st century. Various public discourses regarding Islam and Muslims in Europe on issues such as Muslim-state relations, secularism, gender, and religious practices of Muslims in Europe will be introduced and applied to the situation of Muslims in Berlin. In order to show the diversity within Islam itself, this lecture will aim to sketch the idea of a “Muslim Cosmopolitanism” in Berlin. What makes Islam in Berlin different to that in other European cities? What are the dynamics and discourses impacting the Muslim Community in Berlin? What is the relationship of Muslims with other religious communities in Berlin? 

Instructor: Fatih Abay
Regular FU-BEST Course: Islam and Europe: Historical and Contemporary Dimensions (FU-BEST 10)

For a recording of this session, please click here.

This lecture takes you on a virtual tour to some of the most splendid art collections in the world: Using the treasure troves of Berlin’s many museums and galleries, we will give you a survey of the visual arts in Central Europe from the rise of modernism around 1900 to the present after postmodernism. Focusing on German art, this session will also illustrate the relationship of the arts to society and to philosophical ideas of their respective times. One of the questions that keep coming up in this relationship deals with the role of art for a national self-understanding. So discover some unique works of art with us and find out why they are relevant to European and German identity.

Instructor: Dr. Matthias Vollmer
Regular FU-BEST Course: History and Philosophy of Modern Art in Central Europe (FU-BEST 4)
Online Course Spring 2021: Artistic Diversity in Central Europe - Exploring Art in Germany from 1900 to the Present

For a recording of this session, please click here.

Part III: "Taking Responsibility for the Future: European and German Concepts for Tomorrow"

The European Union (EU) and its Member states, especially Germany, are often cited as world leaders in alternative energy efforts. However, up close, here inside Europe, the story looks more complex. While a broad social and political consensus has long favored Germany's national Energiewende (Energy Transition program), new political- and ecological-based opposition to the plan has arisen; especially with costs running very high for citizens and business. Will Germany - and the EU - make course corrections to learn from experience? This lecture will look at how the EU deals with differing regional political, ecological, and economic interests and whether it is able to provide answers and solutions that could be useful for other global players like the USA.

Instructor: Dr. Thomas W. O’Donnell
Regular FU-BEST Course: Energizing Europe: 21st-Century Renewable and Fossil Transformations (FU-BEST 30)

For a recording of this session, please click here.

In the 21st century, as the internet is open to political commentary from everybody, new kinds of information providers influence “traditional” journalism and politics in non-democratic and democratic societies alike. What is the impact of news leaks, blogs and cyber activism on the relationship of mass media, journalism, and politics? Where is the limit between privacy and the right to freedom of information? How do political groups use this medium of “mass communication” with little control over hate speech or “fake news”? This lecture will try to provide some answers to these questions as well as insights about digital protest and empowerment, and which potential and challenges they bring to ethical and inclusive journalism and politics of the future.

Instructor: Till Büser
Regular FU-BEST Course: Media Politics: Structures and Case-Studies in Germany and Europe (FU-BEST 22)
Online Course Spring 2021: Media Politics and Structures in Germany and Europe

For a recording of this session, please click here

The relationship between business and environmental issues in Germany and Europe has changed drastically over the years, with continuous impact by the interaction between the German and European Union political levels. Nowadays, positive environmental impacts envisioned by sustainable entrepreneurship and core business activities, are increasingly being acknowledged by customers, politics, and society as a whole. This lecture will shed some light on the motivating forces behind entrepreneurs’ and businesses’ decision to make a strategic commitment to sustainability. We will also “visit” some best practice examples from Berlin’s thriving “green business” start-up scene and ask how they have creatively overcome market and regulatory barriers to make an environmental and social difference.

Instructor: Heike Mewes
Regular FU-BEST Course: Green Business: German and European Sustainable Entrepreneurship (FU-BEST 33)

For a recording of this session, please click here

After having analyzed influences of the past on Europe’s, Germany’s, and Berlin’s present, and having discussed concurrent present-day identities in these spaces as well as their solutions to urgent questions for our societies of the future, this final subject course lecture brings together all other topics and asks: With our historical baggage, multiple identities in society, and problems facing the future – how can we live together? What is the glue that may keep modern communities intact? Turning to philosophy as the key discipline to answer questions of this magnitude, we will introduce some answers that German philosophers have come up with since Immanuel Kant. They have shaped the development of modern German culture – and perhaps some or some combinations still hold great value today.

Instructor: Dr. Detlef von Daniels
Regular FU-BEST Courses: The Promise of German Philosophy: Kant to Hegel (FU-BEST 9a) & Tragedy and New Beginnings in German Philosophy: From Marx and Nietzsche to Habermas and Ratzinger (FU-BEST 9b)

For a recording of this session, please click here

Part IV: "Sprich einfach Deutsch mit uns!" German Language and Culture LIVE Sessions, Beginner to Advanced

Welcome to Berlin in December! The season means we will take you to one of our many Christmas markets and prepare you for communicating, understanding local customs, shopping, and introducing yourself to the Germans you will meet. Our instructor of this interactive session for Beginners looks forward to seeing you and to showing you how easy it is to start learning German. Wir sehen uns!

Instructor: Christine Weber-Neumann
Regular FU-BEST Courses: FU-BEST German Language Courses (7 Levels of Proficiency from Beginner 1 through Advanced 2) 

Registration for this session is now closed. Registered participants will receive the login information on Monday, November 11.

For reasons of data protection, our live German language sessions will not be recorded; however, you can watch a general introduction to the FU-BEST German Language Program here.

Willkommen in der Vorweihnachtszeit in Berlin! Wir laden Sie ein, verschiedene Bräuche unterschiedlicher Kulturen in unserer Stadt zu dieser Jahreszeit kennenzulernen. This interactive session for learners of German on an Intermediate level will introduce you to different festivities and rituals in multicultural Berlin, but also look at childhood traditions kept alive by families and singles in the big city. You will learn and understand a classic Christmas poem and song and eventually be able to extend and politely accept an invitation to celebrate together (as well as understand which present to bring). Wir freuen uns auf Sie!

Instructor: Thomas Wiederhold
Regular FU-BEST Courses: FU-BEST German Language Courses (7 Levels of Proficiency from Beginner 1 through Advanced 2) 

Please register here until December 2, 2020.

For reasons of data protection, our live German language sessions will not be recorded; however, you can watch a general introduction to the FU-BEST German Language Program here.

Diese interaktive Deutscheinheit für fortgeschrittene Deutschlerner beschäftigt sich mit wichtigen Gedanken rund um Weihnachten – was bedeutet dieses Fest eigentlich (noch), wie ist es, an Weihnachten alleine zu sein, geht es nur noch um Kommerz und Kitsch oder hat Weihnachten doch eine eigene Magie, alt und jung, unterschiedliche Kulturen/Religionen sowie Freunde und Fremde zusammenzubringen? Wir sprechen über das Feiern in Deutschland und Berlin, aber auch bei Ihnen zu Hause, und über klassische Rituale am Jahresende – oder alternative Aktivitäten in einer Großstadt wie Berlin! Lassen Sie uns miteinander reden!

Instructor: Katrin Mensing
Regular FU-BEST Courses: FU-BEST German Language Courses (7 Levels of Proficiency from Beginner 1 through Advanced 2) 

Please register here until December 9, 2020. 

For reasons of data protection, our live German language sessions will not be recorded; however, you can watch a general introduction to the FU-BEST German Language Program here.