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Online Subject Courses

Instructor: Dr. Matthias Vollmer
Live Session: Wednesday, 9 - 11 a.m. CET (Berlin time)
Duration: Feb. 16 - May 18, 2022
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 6

This course will survey the visual arts in Germany from the rise of modernism around 1900 to the present after postmodernism. The aim is to closely study the individual works and interpret them critically by analyzing their formal structure, style and technique, iconography etc. We will investigate the concerns of the artists who created them, and place the works within their wider historical, philosophical, political, social and cultural contexts as well as within the international development of the visual arts in Western Europe and – in the second half of the 20th century – the US.

To understand 20th-century art and its role in society, it is paramount to take into account theoretical thinking and the philosophical climate shaped by Sigmund Freud, Charles Sanders Peirce and others. Hence, the course will also acquaint students with major philosophical ideas of this period and their implications for visual artworks. This will include reflections by art historians on the methods deemed appropriate for studying the objects and ideas which constitute their discipline.

Instructor: Dr. Jan-Henrik Meyer
Live Session: Thursdays, 9 - 11 a.m. CET (Berlin time) 
Duration: Feb. 17 - May 19, 2022
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 6

European Politics and the history and politics of European Integration more specifically are characterized by crises, as many contemporary and current observers have highlighted over and over again. In the past two decades, Europe has been shaken by a series of crises – from the failed constitution and the financial crisis to the Migration, Brexit and COVID crises, the rise of populism and the disintegration of democracy in some of the newer member states. Why is European integration apparently so crisis-ridden? And: to what extent has European integration actually been propelled by crises?

This course will introduce students to the history and politics of the European Union (EU), its peculiar institutions and a number of its key policies. The course will address and explain the – often crisis-ridden – processes of widening and deepening of this unique political entity, drawing on some relevant theorizing. Students will learn how institutions changed and how policies are made, as well as the role of the different supranational and intergovernmental institutions. Next to the formal institutions, interest representation, lobbying, and the media have shaped processes of policy making and polity building, and crisis responses. Special emphasis will be placed on Europe’s current crises – the Euro crisis, the migration crisis, Brexit – and the lingering challenges of the environmental and climate change.

The sessions consist of lectures, literature-based discussions, a close reading of sources, in smaller and larger groups. Students will be expected to actively participate, collaborate in groups and prepare oral presentations. A special highlight of the course is a hands-on semester-long group project of developing a lobbying strategy directed at the European institutions. The course also includes a presentation and an opportunity to discuss with a guest speaker from the Commission’s Team Europe.

Instructor: Dr. Marcus Funck
Live Session: Monday, 9 - 11 a.m. CET (Berlin time) 
Duration: Feb. 14 - May 16, 2022
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 6

This course addresses the question of what fascism is, how it developed and changed over time, and how it unfolds in different regional contexts. We will compare various Fascist movements and regimes that existed in different times and spaces. The course will start with a discussion of a wide range of theories and definitions of Fascism, both contemporary and scholarly. From there, we are going to analyse distinct key aspects of historical Fascism (ideology, organisation, practices), particularly in France, Italy, and Germany, from the 1900s to the 1940s. The second half of the course deepens the comparative aspect when we look at very different movements and regimes across the globe that have been labelled as either “Authoritarian”, “Populist”, or “Fascist”. Relating and comparing such different political systems to each other as well as to the historical Fascist regimes helps us to get a better understanding of what exactly might be Fascist about them.

Instructor: Dr. Martin Jander
Live Session: Mondays, 9 - 11 a.m. CET (Berlin time)
Duration: Feb. 14 - May 9, 2022
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 6

The end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new era in world politics. For all societies, many changes have occurred since that time. In Germany they are radical: two German societies, a democracy (Federal Republic of Germany) and a dictatorship (German Democratic Republic), united into one nation and one state on October 3, 1990.

In this seminar we will deal, step by step, with the most important changes in German society and in its international environment. We want to answer the following questions: (1) What is the state of democracy in the unified country? (2) Can all citizens of the country exercise their rights guaranteed by the Constitution? (3) Does the Federal Republic consider its neighbors and other democracies in Europe and the rest of the world as equal partners? (4) Could the unification of the two German states become a model for other societies? (5) What challenges do German democrats face in the united Federal Republic, in Europe and in the world?

With the unification occurred, according to the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, a "catching-up revolution" (“Nachholende Revolution”). The GDR, which united with the Federal Republic, experienced a democratic modernization that had already taken place in the western part of Germany after 1945, instigated by the Allies, especially the United States of America.

Unification also brought about further reforms: The newly unified Federal Republic began to recognize itself as a country of immigration, and it began to compensate victims of National Socialism who had not yet been compensated, such as forced laborers.

In addition, the unification process pluralized society's party system as a whole. In all parts of society, five political parties – conservatives, liberals, social democrats, greens and leftists – play a stable role in the formation of the political will and politics.

However, the modernization and democratization of the unified Federal Republic also provoked protests from more than a few citizens. Such protests are often articulated in the election of right-wing extremist groups: Since about 2015, a sixth party has been added to the picture, the right-wing populist, in parts radical right-wing Alternative for Germany. Alarmingly, the number of right-wing terrorist attacks has also increased dramatically since unification. NGOs say that since October 3rd 1990, 213 people – Jews, immigrants, refugees and others – have been killed by right-wing terrorists.

The foreign policy orientation of the Federal Republic is also being critically questioned. Politicians from right-wing, left-wing and nationalist camps question the foreign policy orientation of the Federal Republic of Germany toward the United States and its membership in NATO.

Conditions in Germany itself, in Europe and in the international arena are constantly evolving. A final assessment of the consequences of the unification of the two societies after the end of the Cold War is not yet possible. However, this seminar will give students an insight into the various conflicts in German society. At the end of the seminar, they should themselves be able to answer the main question of the seminar: Can the unification of the two German states be seen as a model for other democracies in the world?