Participant Testimonials 2019 (in alphabetical order)
Sevda Arslan Graduate Student, Anthropology (University of Notre Dame)
As a dedicated European Studies scholar, the relevance of the Berlin Transnational European Studies (TES) seminar was indisputable and self-evident for my research and teaching goals.
My interest in Europe started early in my academic training and especially confirmed during my undergraduate studies at Maastricht University where I graduate with my B.A. in interdisciplinary European Studies in 2013. At Notre Dame, I am working on my doctorate in anthropology with a focus on migration and identity in Europe. More specifically, I look into the everyday life experiences of minority immigrant communities in multi-cultural urban areas, namely Berlin, Germany and Istanbul, Turkey. Hence, I felt truly fortunate and very excited about the location of the seminar, as this was only going to be my second visit to Berlin. I knew that the Nanovic Institute and University of Georgia were well connected with the city, plus the seminar program, would allow me to be better prepared for my dissertation fieldwork research starting at the beginning of Aug. 2019. Indeed, some of the guest lecturers and TES events were directly related to my research project; such as Sasha Salzmann and Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay’s contributions who both deal with questions related to identity and diversity, just to mention a few. However, I was also excited to recognize and deepen my knowledge about topics such as “European Energy Policy” and “Gender and Law”; two areas that prior to the seminar I had not considered how they might link with my research on migrant communities.
The educational value of the seminar was invaluable and self-evident for my research and development as a doctoral student in the dissertation stage. Additionally, the one week long TES seminar contributed to my professional growth in ways that I would have not been able to cultivate anywhere else. As a first-generation college student of working-class migrant parents, spending a whole week with researchers of varying academic ranks – from doctoral students like myself to faculty in full professoriate level – enabled me to experience and bridge academic and everyday life practices through sharing meals, walking together to the seminar room, attending cultural events, and engaging in academic discussions with people who all share the same interests about issues relevant to contemporary European Studies. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the interdisciplinary transnational European Studies seminar with scholars from ND and UGA who throughout the week promoted a collegial atmosphere, much enthusiasm, and for me especially, this experience created a sense of belonging within the academic career trajectory. Thank you so much to the generous donors who made this rich and rigorous week long seminar possible with their generous funds. I truly hope that other (younger) scholars, too, will be able to benefit from attending this carefully organized seminar in the future and we can establish a more connected community of interdisciplinary European Studies scholars to best address the many pressing issues in Europe.
Antje Ascheid Associate Professor, Film Studies (University of Georgia )
The Berlin seminar was not only immensely instructive due to the high-powered speakers, it was also incredibly successful in facilitating new relationships amongst colleagues and graduate students from both universities. A unique and invaluable opportunity.
Elizabeth Baker Postdoctoral Teaching Scholar, History (University of Notre Dame)
I would wholeheartedly recommend this program to my colleagues in European history. This seminar achieved both breadth and depth. It really broadened by understanding of contemporary Europe and allowed me connect my historical understanding of Europe with the headlines I read today. As a historian of imperial Britain and British India, I am a Europeanist who often feels estranged from Europe both by my focus on a country that often sees itself as separate from Europe and because I spend the majority of my time researching a empire geographically outside of Europe. This seminar brought me out of my “niche” and broadened my understanding of the challenges facing Europe today in ways that were easily connected back to my teaching and my research.
The speakers at this conference were fantastic. While some were more prepared than others, they all brought incredible experience and professional expertise to their talks. I especially appreciated learning the diverse ways our speakers understood Europe and their country’s role on the continent, and usually, in the EU. I was especially inspired by many of the speakers’ relentless pursuit of a better Europe. In my classrooms, I feel better equipped to connect classroom learning to contemporary Europe and do so in a way that inspires my students to seek solutions instead of rest in despair.
Matthew Bufford Graduate Student, Political Science (University of Georgia)
When I applied for the Berlin Seminar in Transnational European Studies, I knew it would be a rewarding experience, but what I am taking away from the seminar exceeded all my expectations. It feels that we are at a point in history where Europe is in flux; the European Union borders seem to be growing and shrinking simultaneously, and what it means to be European is being increasingly defined through exclusionary and nationalistic politics. While Europe’s history, cultures, and peoples are unique, the challenges it is facing mirror our own. Issues like immigration, the rise of populist far-right politics, and climate change have been vitally important in deciding recent elections not just in the United States, but in Europe as well. Understanding how Germany is responding to environmental challenges or how Italy is responding to immigration sheds new light on these issues and is a valuable experience to bring back to America.
The diversity of discussion and perspectives that were brought together through the Berlin Seminar was simply incredible. As participants, we engaged with the substantive material through the eyes of journalists, lawyers, film-makers, judges, NGO workers, and even graffiti artists. My fellow seminar attendees were nothing short of impressive, and I was amazed at what all I learned from hearing their insights and experiences. Furthermore, the seminar was also expertly organized by the program directors and staff; it seemed that they had thought of every small detail in advance, and their hard work made for a seamless and enjoyable experience for all. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this seminar. The lessons I am taking away will surely be valuable for my own research and teaching, and I cherish the friendships and connections I made throughout the week. I highly recommend this seminar for anyone interested in a diverse and modern approach to European studies.
Paola De Santo Assistant Professor of Italian (University of Georgia)
It was a true privilege to participate in the Berlin Seminar in Transeuropean Studies. The Seminar offered a rare opportunity to rethink and invigorate research and teaching programs both interdisciplinarily and in dialogue with a community of scholars, teachers and thinkers.
Professors Martin Kagel and William Donohue organized an impressive and highly accomplished group of activists, artists and writers, political figures, journalists and even a Constitutional Court judge to engage with us in candid, wide-ranging discussions that challenged us all to reconceive our understanding of contemporary Europe and beyond. Topics of discussion probed the most current and pressing issues facing Europe, all of which demanded a transnational perspective, including migration and immigration, climate and energy policy, changing norms of gender and sexuality, Brexit, populist and nationalist resurgence and the Yellow Vest protest.
The opportunity to take part in such discussions in the company of engaged and diverse colleagues will doubtless shape my research and teaching agenda in the short and long terms. I have already considered how complex discussions of migration in the European context will reframe my research on Italian Colonialism and my course on Italian “migrations”. This experience was one of the most intellectually stimulating of my career, and I am grateful for all those who conceived and executed the program and logistics.
Iuliia Emtseva Graduate Student, International Human Rights Law (University of Notre Dame)
My expectations for the Berlin Seminar were already very high, especially after reading the testimonials of previous participants and after we received the reading materials. However, during the first day of the seminar, I realized that the seminar is even more intense, diverse, fascinating, and very well organized. When I saw the list of speakers and their bios, I was amazed by the fact that the organizers were able to get these speakers just for us. It was incredible to sit next to a Constitutional Court judge or an EU Commissioner and listen to them speaking only for a small group of academics from two institutions. As a graduate student, I cannot say to what extent this experience was beneficial for teaching, but I definitely can say that this seminar taught me so many things that I would never read in books and I will carry this knowledge with me throughout my professional life. I would recommend this seminar to everyone who is open to learning a lot and not only about Europe - this seminar opens your mind and broadens your vision. I believe the seminar has great potential, and future cohorts will meet many more brilliant speakers in the next years. I wish I could participate every year! I am very grateful for the organizers for choosing me and arranging this beneficial exchange of ideas and great cooperation.
Kristen Jean Gleason Graduate Student, English & Creative Writing (University of Georgia)
The Berlin Seminar was an invigorating experience that I am grateful to have had for a number of reasons. First among these was the seminar’s emphasis on interdisciplinarity. Throughout the week, the discussion was enlivened by both the presenters’ and my colleagues’ diversity of perspectives and experiences. Simply put, I learned a lot. It was also encouraging and exciting for me to note that, in these discussions, creativity was everywhere on display. Each participant, in their own way, was engaged in describing the world that is, and the world that could be. I left the seminar even further convinced that creativity is an essential practice, not only in my own discipline but in others as well. Second, the seminar’s focus on humanitarian, environmental, and political struggles facing modern Europe (and the world) felt both timely and relevant. I was glad to spend most of each day engaged in facing these often difficult issues, and in hearing from others who have devoted their careers to doing the same. The program motivated me to renew my dedication to addressing these issues both in my work and in my community. And, the seminar’s immersive quality—lots of walking, and talking, and eating together—helped me to forge personal and intellectual connections with my co-attendees that are sure to last beyond the end of the seminar itself. The experience was, finally, rich—I know I’ll be teaching and writing from this experience for a long time to come.
Moritz Graefrath Graduate Student, Political Science (University of Notre Dame)
Many academic workshops and seminars these days claim to provide their participants with a novel, truly interdisciplinary, thought-provoking experience. All too often, these promises fall short. This is not the case, however, in the case of the Berlin Seminar in Transnational European Studies. To the contrary, its organizers were, indeed, able to work out a program which challenged every single seminar fellow to reassess pre-held beliefs, consider new perspectives, and explore new themes on a daily basis.
Most obviously, the seminar must be lauded for its top-class set of speakers. But ultimately, it was the continuous interaction with scholars both within and outside of my own field of expertise – all of us united by our interest in Europe – which made this a very memorable experience. Every day, we engaged in an intellectual discourse which can only obtain when you throw scholars of literature, anthropology, law, film, political science, and many other disciplines into the same room for an extended period of time. I hope to bring this interdisciplinary spirit back to my home institution and am confident that it will enrich both my teaching and research.
I left Berlin with a heightened sense for the issues that Europe – and scholars of Europe – are facing today, and have never been more motivated to face them head-on. I wholeheartedly recommend the seminar to all faculty and graduate students with an interest in the continent and its future, even (or especially) if their own background is not in European Studies.
Jelena Jankovic-Rankovic Graduate Student, Anthropology (University of Notre Dame)
In my opinion, the Berlin Seminar is a very thoughtful and effectively organized program with themes that embraced both conceptual and empirical work of presenters. The quality of material and lecturers was impressive and pertinent to current times in transnational Europe. Indeed, the presenters were outstanding, very much thought-provoking, experienced, knowledgeable, and lively, and I didn’t find myself ‘spacing out’ through the lectures. I found all sessions as very inspiring, helpful, and informative, but sessions on Migration to Europe, Gender and German law, and England’s Europe were absolutely fantastic.
I appreciated the time allotted for presentations, as well as the time for promoting thoughtful Q & A discussion/feedback. Moreover, the seminar offered a platform that allowed me to engage in intellectual discussion salient for migration to Europe, nationalism, and the rule of law with speakers, as well as with junior and senior scholars from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Georgia. It also helped me in generating a lot of ideas about how to continue to expand my knowledge and enhance my theoretical framing of transnationalism, transnational mobility, and related concepts. The experience I have gotten attending this seminar will help me in designing and teaching an undergraduate course on transnationalism, migration, and mobility.
Finally, the program of the Berlin seminar is very enlightening and motivational for anyone who is interested in political, economic, and social issues related to Europe. I would highly recommend it to Ph.D. students and the faculty who want to expand their knowledge and understanding of transnational Europe.
Ari Daniel Levine Associate Professor, History (University of Georgia)
I found the 2019 Berlin Seminar to be an immensely valuable and intellectually rich experience. As a historian of China who does comparative research in premodern European history, developing transcultural approaches to exchanges between Europe and Asia, I was fortunate to have been invited to join this year’s program. While the Seminar’s themes of migration, populism and nationalism in contemporary Europe were ripped from today’s headlines, these recent developments have been pushed and pulled by deeper historical currents in the longue durée, as the crises of the 1930s have receded from personal memory into forgotten history. The Seminar’s transnational methodology demonstrated to me that the boundaries of modern Europe, as in the early modern period, have been permeable and open to debate and disputation, cutting across lines of race, religion, language, ethnicity, identity, and geography.
The participants in this year’s Seminar had the rare opportunity to learn from a range of scholars, journalists, writers, and activists who shared their wealth of expertise every day, and the list of speakers was astonishing for both its intellectual diversity and integrity. For me, one of the highlights of the Seminar was a morning with Sasha Marianna Salzman, a Russian-Jewish migrant who has established her own literary niche in Berlin as a dramatist and novelist writing in German as a second language, and whose work complicates questions of gender, religion, and nationality in intriguing (and often hilarious) ways. Another morning, Susanne Baer, a law professor at the Humboldt University and a justice on the German Constitutional Court, explained the workings of the legal institutions and her own personal story as an activist for gay and gender rights, with great clarity and erudition. One evening, we were fortunate to have attended a private screening of the 2019 film Oray, which centered around a young Turkish-German man’s search for religious and masculine community in a mosque in Köln, and told his morally ambiguous story in an unflinching and non-judgmental documentary style. Our discussions with its director, Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay, on the Seminar’s final morning, illuminated the proposition that building a personal identity in contemporary Germany and belonging to a community involves making difficult choices and facing irresolvable dilemmas.
I am especially grateful to Martin Kagel, Associate Dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and Nicholas Allen, Director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia, and to William Donohue, Director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at Notre Dame University. Not only did they implement such a thoughtful program of events, with the indispensable assistance of Sandra McGury, but they actively built a highly collegial community outside of the seminar room, where our discussions could deepen during delightful evenings in Prenzlauer Berg.
Michael Lindquist Graduate Student, Philosophy (University of Georgia)
From the seminar, I expected to learn a lot about Europe, it’s recent history, and current problems it’s facing. I definitely learned a lot from the Berlin Seminar, but what I didn’t expect was the enriching and engaging discursive environment created by the participation of academics from a wide variety of different fields and backgrounds. Spending time with one another outside of the seminar room continuing to talk about the material, as well as each other’s fields and work, was incredible. I now know much more about Europe’s current political climate and why certain issues have arisen and what’s being done to solve them, both with institutional fixes and work on the ground from dedicated individuals.
The seminar exposed me to a few new things that I will be able to fit into my own research and teaching. For one, I can use current European political discourse in my classes as examples in order to teach a little about European politics and culture alongside my regular material, especially in my Logic & Critical Thinking Course. Additionally, when teaching or researching philosophy of law, I will further consider the legal approaches and philosophies of the German Constitutional Court, especially the relationship between principles of care and negative rights, as well as how to ground such principles rigorously within a legal framework.
The topics I liked most from the seminar were Justice Susanne Baer’s presentation on the German Constitutional Court and the presentation by Sea Watch. It was very interesting to listen to Baer explain the German court system and their process of writing decisions. Presentations like that one—ones that explore fundamental philosophical differences between countries and their established institutions—allow for a way to concretely imagine one’s world and institutions operating differently. The presentation from Sea Watch was also fantastic. The situation is certainly a dire one but seeing the great work of activists helps to demonstrate the good work being done on a personal level, while also engaging the European institutions and their failure to adequately address current life or death scenarios in the Mediterranean. Generally speaking, seeing how European institutions whose operations may be foreign to us in the United States, and how they can succeed or fail in their missions, as well as how individuals live within these different institutions in contexts, was extremely enlightening.
The structure of the speakers and the seminar was good. I wish there were more time for discussion with the various speakers, and I found that a lot of great conversation occurred outside the seminar room during lunches and informal get-togethers. It would be great if the speakers could join us for other events or meals on the days of their presentations, especially to get further insight into questions that are raised after participants have had the chance to have some actual discussion. I would recommend the seminar to almost anybody, especially in the humanities or social sciences. The seminar provides a wonderful learning experience, and there’s nothing like actually being in Europe while learning about Europe; instead of Europe and its peoples and struggles being something abstract or “over there,” it’s where you live for a week; you don’t get to just talk about the culture, but also experience it, which is something you can only really have if you’re there. Overall, this was an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience for me both academically and personally. Thank you to everyone that made it possible.
Justin McDevitt Adjunct Professor, Political Science (University of Notre Dame)
The Berlin Seminar on Transnational European Politics was an incredible experience I will treasure forever. Going in, I expected a pretty rigorous week of discussion and intellectual activity. So much so that I worried I would be exhausted each day when I finished. Instead, I actually felt energized by the discussion, in part because it was simply fascinating and well-varied, but also because we got to consistently play such a large role in it. That ownership brought the week to life. Moreover, the people who attended were incredible, and it soon became clear that a great deal of the life of the seminar would be the hundreds of conversations that orbited around the formal discussions. There were no egos, no agendas, just a community of scholars the way it should be.
One of the many real strengths of the seminar was the broad sweep of disciplines and countries. I think I can speak for most of us when I say that, while we all looked forward to the topics with which we were most familiar, there was a genuine buy-in from the entire group on each topic; we would all commit to learning together, and it was such an adventure!
Personally, I will take back to my own work both a general commitment to challenge my students to take a broad view when we discuss a set of topics, but also a keen eye to the power of specific and tangible contexts. For example, one of the most powerful moments of the entire week was hearing from the representative of Sea Watch about their efforts to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. (Granted, one of my areas of focus is the politics of migration, so I’m a little biased, I’ll admit.) But that talk stuck with so many people for exactly these two reasons: we all felt human kinship with these people and felt compelled to care, and it also gave us a concrete example of one particular area of conflict with which we could engage. Seeing how powerful that was will definitely help me communicate better to my students both about why they should care and what they should do in response.
In general, the seminar was a great reminder not only of the interdisciplinary and transnational nature of understanding (and even impacting) European politics and culture, but also the sheer magnitude of the importance that Europe does and will continue to have in a world that is increasingly smaller and more connected, and that is increasingly coming to Europe rather than the other way around. I truly can’t say enough about how wonderful and impressive this seminar was.
Peter D. O’Neill Associate Professor, Comparative Literature (University of Georgia)
Benefits from the Transnational European Studies Seminar manifested well before I stepped off the train in the Berlin Ostbahnhof on Sunday June 2. Earlier in the year, I had been asked to devise a literature course for the following spring that would meet the needs of our Transnational European Studies (TES) minor here at UGA. As I was in the middle of a busy semester, compiling a reading list was postponed until the beginning of our summer recess in May. Truth be told, Beckett, Joyce, and Yeats loomed large in my initial thinking about my TES course. But then the Berlin seminar schedule was published, and “all changed, changed utterly.” This year’s themes of migration, populism and nationalism broadened my notion of Europe beyond the suffocating confines of national, and even hemispheric, boundaries, and so transformed my vision for the TES literature course. In May, in addition to the illuminating reading list for the Berlin seminar, I devoured new European novels by the likes of Jenny Erpenbeck, Damian Vitanza, and Pajtim Statovci. All deal with the crossing of boundaries, be they physical, cultural, ethical, or gendered.
I arrived in Berlin eager for the discussions, yet naturally apprehensive as to whether I could contribute fruitfully to them. Martin, Bill, and Nicholas had that concern covered. Clearly, they knew that cultivating a collegial atmosphere was crucial to the success of the week, and in this they excelled from the very beginning. The pleasant social gatherings and small size of the group helped dissolve any barriers between participants, and over the course of the week, I felt completely at ease talking before this friendly group. In our first session Sophie Scheytt of Sea-Watch set the tone for the week by reminding us of what was really at stake in our forthcoming discussions––our very humanity. Abstract governmental policies confronted material reality; that is, mass drownings of human beings in the Mediterranean. During the rest of the week, when discussing populism and ultra-nationalism, be it in Hungary, Italy, England, Poland, Germany, Ukraine, or France, the real human costs of such movements remained close to our hearts and minds.
The seminar was structured perfectly for me, and the quality and expertise of the presenters left me feeling privileged and grateful for the ample opportunities to ask such exceptional intellectuals questions. If forced to pick favorites, then the German author Sasha Marianna Saltzmann would head my list. I felt truly honored to be in the same room as she. Her book Beside Myself arrives in my letterbox next week. I can’t wait to read it. Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay, the Turkish German filmmaker, has provided me with a marvelous insight on his film, Oray, which I can discuss with my students next year. Fintan O’Toole, European Journalist of the Year, explains Brexit better than anyone else on the planet; he too will be part of my syllabus in 2020. But let me stop there for I would end up listing every single presenter. All helped reshape my thinking, not just about my course, but about the very concept of Europe itself.
To summarize, the Berlin Seminar in Transnational European Studies invigorated this weary scholar. I feel very fortunate to have been given the time and space to think about key issues without the pressure of having to present a paper or give a formal talk. This is a luxury that I hope other colleagues can experience in years to come.
Jennifer Palmer Associate Professor, History (University of Georgia)
One of the biggest strengths of the Berlin Seminar in Transnational European Studies is its interdisciplinary nature. The wide variety of training and professional backgrounds of both the presenters and the participants pushed everyone to consider multiple points of view As the week went on, however, it also became clear that certain questions and topics cut across disciplines. These include: how to define “the people” in democracies; the role of identity in the state; the relationship between national and international interests; tensions between individuals and institutions; and the inherent contradiction in Europe as a fragmented community, while also a unified entity. Defining these interdisciplinary themes is essential. European Studies in historical and contemporary perspective is a comparatively young field. In comparison with Women’s Studies or African-American Studies, for example, a body of interdisciplinary scholarship that defines important questions for the field of European Studies is still in the process of emerging. In my view, the seminar did some crucial work in moving towards these goals. Building on this foundation has the potential to make UGA and Notre Dame international centers for interdisciplinary European Studies.
I welcomed the opportunity to think about Europe in a transnational and interdisciplinary framework. I anticipate that this experience will invigorate my research and my teaching. Most immediately, in cooperation with a previous participant and with the support of the Willson Center, I am organizing a faculty seminar in Transnational European History in which I hope we can continue these interdisciplinary conversations.
Dmytro Sherngovsky Senior Lecturer and Director of Academic and International Relations (Ukrainian Catholic University; University of Notre Dame)
It was a great honor and pleasure to take part in the Seminar. Besides the possibility to get the updated information from well-known experts in various fields of European studies, I'm sure everyone enjoyed the opportunity to have after-session discussion and debates between participants. The atmosphere of knowledge sharing grounded on the equal-to-equal basis inspired us to be generous in listening and advising about personal teaching approaches and techniques. The most valuable for me was the exchange of personal stories and experience. As scholars in social, political science and humanities, we can do research and find information or data that is interesting for us. However, sometimes, we are missing personal stories that can show the complexity of the situation or possible future trend. I think this Seminar was a perfect place for sharing such personal stories, basing on very different experiences of participants and lecturers from Western Europe, USA, Central and Eastern Europe, that enriched our discussions. For me, as a participant form Ukraine, it was a great opportunity not only to compare different visions with Ukrainian cases but also to help my colleagues with understanding Eastern Europe better.
Many thanks to the teams and donor of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, University of Notre Dame and the Wilson Center, University of Georgia, for making it possible!
Tomasz Stępniewski Associate Professor, Institute of Political Science and International Affairs (The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin and Institute of Central Europe in Lublin; University of Notre Dame)
During the Berlin Seminar in Transnational European Studies held in 2019, I had an opportunity to focus upon studies regarding the Europe’s current situation and prospective challenges. Moreover, lectures, discussions and consultations with experts from various European countries and academic staff from USA (the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Georgia) were extremely fruitful for my research and stimulated the exchange of points of view.
Furthermore, I look forward to the scientific cooperation between the Institute of Political Science and International Affairs at the Catholic University of Lublin I represent and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Georgia. I do hope it will be possible to organize conferences and seminars on Europe’s future and Europe-USA relations discussing the cultural, political and economic points of view.
I would like to emphasize I am absolutely confident that this particular week I spent in Berlin will foster my personal and academic development. I am indeed grateful because my experience in Berlin (the Berlin Seminar in Transnational European Studies, 2019) would not have been possible without the Nanovic Insitute’s support.
Justin Strong Graduate student, Theology (University of Notre Dame)
My interest the transnational seminar in European studies was motivated by my hope to find new ways to situate my research on the ancient world in contemporary contexts—finding new ways to address ancient issues from a modern perspective, and to shed light on modern issues in light of historical analogs from the ancient past. Since I am moving to London for my Mellon 5+1 Notre Dame post-doc and hope to maintain one foot in Europe during my career, a second goal for me was to get a basic understanding of what it meant to do European studies, and gain a better familiarity with some of the issues receiving scholarship interest and popular attention such as Brexit.
The two sessions I found the most helpful were the first, on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and our discussion of Brexit. In the case of the former, gaining a better sense of the perception of refugees, migration, and the refugee crisis in modern Europe is a helpful analog with which I can compare the many ancient examples of forced migrations. In the classroom I expect to use the information I gained from this session to discuss the biblical exile, and help students grasp not only the historical circumstances of such events, but the diverse reactions, confusion, divisions, and so on that one can only really understand with relatable examples. The lecture on Brexit and book discussion was helpful to me for a completely separate reason. Since I will be living in London when Brexit does (or doesn’t) take place, this topic was particularly of interest to me. Since I will be actively engaging in scholarship for my guild and for the public in the UK, our discussions at the Seminar was invaluable for gaining my bearings regarding this focal issue.
The speakers and topics of the seminar were outstanding. I felt as though every day the organizers had managed to recruit the best possible person to speak on the topic of the day. I also felt that the social environment was also a strong point of the Seminar, with the regular meals together being a particular highlight. Having such a rich schedule also created one of the challenges for me, which was to be able to hit the ground running, and recharge between the sessions that would go from morning until the late evening. As I mentioned at the conclusion of the seminar, I also felt that I was not quite able to get a complete picture of the political landscape that seemed to be in the background of many of these issues, simply because the avowed political stances of those speakers who volunteered them were decidedly far left of center. The seminar might be improved by greater attention to this issue.
On the humanities and theology side of things, I would highly recommend the Seminar to any theologians interested in discerning how their scholarship and their role as a theologian—as part of the global body of the Church--relates to current transnational issues.
Alberto Villate-Isaza Assistant Professor, Romance Languages (University of Georgia)
The opportunity to participate in the European trans-national studies seminar was truly a remarkable experience. As specialist in Latin American literature and culture, it is easy to conceive of your area studies in isolation, only having historical connections that were once strong. However, after our thought provoking discussions and enriching experiences, I am now able to not only appreciate, but also articulate the many points of contact between Europe and the Americas. My teaching will certainly be enriched by this holistic perspective in which social, political and cultural trends are interconnected.
One of the most representative examples were our discussions with renowned journalists such as Lucia Annunziata (Italy), Adam Nossiter (NYT correspondent in France) and Fintan O’Toole (Ireland/UK), who shared with us their incredible insights on the political developments in Italy’s recent wave of right-wing populism, the upheaval caused by the ‘yellow vest’ movement, and the ‘Brexit’ ordeal. It was extremely interesting for me to realize how similar phenomenon are occurring in Latin America with the resurgence of right-wing populism and the intense social movements it is generating throughout the region.
Another remarkable experience for me was the dialogue with Susanne Baer, constitutional court judge of Germany. First, it was impressive how the organizers of the seminar were able to secure such an important figure. Second, at a more personal level, her ability to commandingly speak about the social and the juridical was instructive for my own research on the way law and judicial institutions permeate cultural products. In sum, it was one of the most significant academic experiences I have had in my professional life.
Frans Weiser Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute (University of Georgia)
As a faculty member with a joint-appointment that spans both humanities and the social sciences, I was truly impressed at the range of people who are making a difference in Europe and to whom the TSE seminar provided access. From constitutional justices to energy experts, human rights lawyers to internationally recognized journalists, and emerging filmmakers to groundbreaking writers, many of whom represent the voice of change from across western and eastern Europe, we were introduced to a unique cross-section of how European policies are shaped—and how they are also being transformed both positively and negatively. I found particularly valuable that this multifaceted approach to the largest economy in the world could also serve as a template for engaging other regions of the globe The seminar has already impacted my teaching, as I am using materials from Berlin in my summer online classes. Yet what surprised me the most was how many people from different departments at my home institution and from Notre Dame I was able to connect with, which I believe will lead to international collaboration going forward.
Jennifer Joelle White Lecturer, International Affairs (University of Georgia)
When I first heard of the TES seminar, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to build on my own knowledge, research program, and teaching through interaction with other scholars in a variety of disciplines who shared an interest in European issues. In my own teaching and research in international politics, I have come to value highly an interdisciplinary approach, as so many political questions and challenges have several dimensions and require input from diverse perspectives. Upon learning the details of the seminar program during the orientation, I was positively gleeful: each topic and reading was directly related to my teaching and research, and I was intrigued by the guests who had been scheduled as well.
As eager and excited as I was about the seminar beforehand, I could not have imagined how enriching of an experience it would turn out to be. For me – a lecturer of only three years at the University of Georgia – the opportunity to engage meaningfully with colleagues from my home University and from Notre Dame was refreshing and intellectually stimulating. My interests intersect so substantially with the other participants, and I would never have had the opportunity to engage with these colleagues were it not for the TES seminar; in fact, through discussions with some of the other participants, I have gained specific ideas and additional contacts that will help me build my teaching and research program, and I am now crafting ways to integrate the resulting insights into my courses for the Fall 2019 semester.
One of the elements of the seminar that helped foster the connections with fellow participants but also pushed me to think beyond my own disciplinary confines was the set of speakers that were featured throughout the week. To have had such candid, interactive discussions with so many motivated, dedicated, and experienced guests was an absolutely unique experience and a true privilege: I was able to develop an entirely fresh perspective on many of the issues that I research and teach due not only to the speakers themselves, but also the excellent questions and comments from the other participants. These experiences will enhance my work significantly and push me to continue challenging my own views and work.
I am wholeheartedly grateful to have had the opportunity of participating in the TES seminar, and I look forward to cultivating the relationships and ideas that began during this week, and to incorporating the interdisciplinary approach featured in the seminar into my own teaching and research. Thank you for crafting such an incredibly thoughtful and energizing program!