The first Wittenberg American Studies Summer School took place from July 31st to August 4th 2006. An event of "great historical significance," as co-organizer Prof. Holger Kersten of Magdeburg University referred to it, the Summer School was attended by thirty university students from all over Germany. The summer school was a wonderful opportunity to meet other students interested in American Studies, to discuss current events and themes associated with the United States, and to have a good time. Lectures on the topic Religion in American Politics and Culture by professors from the United States and Germany and helpful suggestions from workshop organizers encouraged us to learn about and assess several aspects of American society. Faculty members were in residence the whole week and were always available for questions. Sometimes (radically) opposed points of view triggered lively discussions and offered students the chance to take their personal learning experience a step further.
The summer school was made possible by a generous grant from the Embassy of the United States in Berlin and by the joint efforts of three organizers: Dr. Martina Kohl (Cultural Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Embassy), Prof. Holger Kersten (Executive Director of the German Association for American Studies), and Dipl.-Angl. Carsten Hummel (Center for United States Studies at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg). The event was hosted by the Center for U.S. Studies on its Wittenberg premises. The organizers actively participated in the discussions and contributed to the success of the Wittenberg Summer School. As Prof. Kersten put it: "This experience reminds me why I wanted to work at a university in the first place. It also reminds me of what university education ought to be and how it can be if one doesn't have to sit through crowded lectures with semi-motivated participants and to spend time in endless committee meetings."
The Wittenberg Alumni Association was launched by the Summer School participants to maintain the "spirit of Wittenberg" and to continue sharing points of view and information on current affairs, events, and other issues related to American Studies.
The Alumni Internet page offers the chance to interact directly with the participants. One of the instruments we have established thus far is a blog. You can post anything that you consider worthwhile: Information on cultural events, your research projects, possible formal or informal meetings (visits to museums, exhibitions, etc.) or interesting study material that you have encountered. The Alumni pages are intended as a first step towards developing a network that will help sustain the relationships established during the Wittenberg sessions.
We encourage participants and faculty to contribute to this network. If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or criticisms please feel free to send us an e-mail. We look forward to a lively exchange of ideas in these pages. Enjoy the website!