Dec 01, 2017
Executive Director Dr. Oliver Schmidt and Charlotte Securius-Carr, Head of Fulbright Programs, ran a Fulbright info session about recent trends in German-American academic exchanges at this year's DAAD-Leitertagung. They were joined by an interested workshop audience and by three current U.S. Fulbright scholars in Germany: Dr. Tricia Redeker Hepner and Dr. Austra Reinis as well as Peter Thompson, a 2017-18 U.S. graduate fellow currently in Freiburg. The panel discussed the budgetary constraints of U.S. state universities, the implementation of increasingly tight university curricula, and the consequences of the shifts in the U.S. politics to focus on issues American.
In light of these developments, the Fulbright scholars emphasized the enormous impact of academic exchange for scholars at all stages in their careers for their personal development. Exchanges, they argued, both changed perspectives and increased understanding for and appreciation of alternative study and research methods. Exchanges, they also agreed, helped greatly to expand their networks and develop collaborative projects abroad.
Tricia Redeker Hepner, an anthropologist from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), was clear on that: “My research projects would have progressed much slower, had they not been granted the opportunity for academic exchange with Germany which afforded me to personally collaborate with German fellow researchers. We have professionally stayed in touch ever since.” For Austra Reinis, a historian of religion from Missouri State University (Springfield) it was the work with original document collections that made all the difference. “What a treat it was to experience Germany´s enormous academic, historical and cultural resources first-hand,” she said.
The 2017 DAAD-Leitertagung (November 21/22 in Bonn) convened the heads of international offices from almost 200 German universities, as well as representatives from higher education, research organizations and service providers. The conference featured 28 workshops, info sessions and discussion rounds covering such diverse topics as tuition fees for international students in Germany, the support of refugees, and the university's responsibility for promoting the project of Europe. At the final Markt der Möglichkeiten, Dr. Oliver Schmidt (photo) consulted with DAAD colleagues about social media and its potential for outreach and campaigning in educational exchanges.