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Students in the Summer Language German Intensive Program visit the Hamburger Bahnhof. (Credit: Irina Stelea)

The BCB Summer Language German Intensive Program came to a close earlier this month. From the 10th June to the 10th July, a handful of students from various universities immersed themselves in the German language and took part in cultural events across Berlin. This podcast includes snippets of conversations with some of the participants on their experiences at BCB and in Berlin.

Featured songs, in order of appearance:

“Komm Doch” by Die Caufner Schwestern (1978)

“Sonnenallee” by Rio Reiser (1990)

Essay by Mark Twain, source here.

 

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The participants of the 2nd LESC in Freiburg (Credits: Alexandra Sachariew, University College Freiburg)

Hello all you BCBers,

In case someone has been wondering about my absence from BCB in the past semester, let me reassure you of my return in Fall 2017: I am currently not in Berlin but studying abroad at AUC in Amsterdam. The first question one might ask is probably: Why would I study abroad in Amsterdam? Isn’t it just like Berlin, only smaller and with canals and actual bike lanes? I asked myself the same things. But if that’s all you know about Amsterdam, you should just come here and fall in love with this beautiful city yourself. Very few people are able to escape its magic spell.

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Calvin echoes my sentiments on school. (Credit: Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes comics)

“So what’s the plan after this?”

Whoever you are and wherever you are: If you’re a breathing, barely surviving student, you’ve been asked this question before. I don’t know about you, but every time I start to think about what I want to do post graduation, my heart begins to palpitate at an unusually fast pace, and somehow I end up under my covers, scrolling through Instagram — even though I swear I don’t remember any of that

It’s tough. Life as a student is confusing and disorienting: You spend half your time wondering what the heck you did with that pencil you had in your hand a minute ago, and the other half worrying about who is going to hire you and pay you real money for your services.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to study such a variety of courses, but I often wonder what’s next. Will I be a writer? Maybe I’ll be a teacher. Prime Minister of Djibouti? Art Historian?

I DON’T KNOW! I find myself under my covers and scrolling through Instagram again.

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Three of today’s biggest populists: America’s Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen of France and the Hungarian Viktor Orban. (Credit: David Parkins, The Economist.)

Three of today’s biggest populists: America’s Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen of France and the Hungarian Viktor Orban (Credit: David Parkins, The Economist.)

Should populists be demonized? Today especially, after Donald Trump’s latest victory in securing a seat as President of the United States of America, this topic is incredibly relevant. But one might ask: How did he win? Trump’s campaign was largely centered around garnering anti-systemic attention from voters that cited exasperation at their treatment by the current government and its long-standing convoluted bureaucracy. Voters united around a common goal: to elect anybody but Hillary Clinton, the ultimate representation of the so-called system. So, is Donald Trump a populist? Is he a voice for the people? And how do we then categorize Bernie Sanders? Has populism as a phenomenon been demonized all over the world? Are Donald Trump’s election and the entire Brexit campaign examples of the adverse results of populism?

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Geoff with Leonardo

Geoff Lehman with Leonardo (credit: Geoff Lehman)

Once, in a seminar of the Representation class with Geoff, I made a comment about the painting that we were discussing by reading a passage that I wrote on my notebook before I came to the class. He appreciated the comment but insisted that I voiced my impression on the painting at that very moment. I asked him why my present impression matter so much, he gave me a rather interesting response:

Well, put it like this, in a psychoanalytic setting, the therapist is much more interested in how the patient describes her dream at the very moment, instead of what she wrote down in her dream journal. In a similar way, I think its more valuable that you talk about your immediate reaction to the painting, rather than what you wrote down in the past.

This is what I consider as one of the greatest examples of how one integrates different approaches/disciplines in a classroom discussion. With that in mind, lets begin our interview:

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Michael Weinman

Michael Weinman (right) with Elaine Leong at Max Planck Institute for the History of Sciences (credit: Sopo Kashakashvili).

As a student of Michael (Weinman), I’ve been constantly impressed by his scope of knowledge, fascinated by his pedagogical style and inspired by his own intellectual passion: He reads ancient Greek and has written his Doctoral dissertation on Aristotle, but at the same time he engages with post-modern thought and has written on the works of Judith Butler and Jacques Derrida— he even has a lot to say on the subject of (early) modern science! In seminars, he can always light up the room with his brilliant articulations of complicated theories without oversimplifying them, along with his humour and charismatic comic presence. More importantly, perhaps, through his sincerity he has enhanced my passion for liberal arts education, like when he shared his conviction that “teachers should be model learners first.”

This time, I interviewed Michael on his view with regard to the education offered by Bard College Berlin and asked for an articulation of the approach that our school is taking. Here are his responses:

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Discussion

Students discussing matters of grave importance (credit: Inasa Bibic)

 

Dear all,

it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new semester for all of us and we at Die Bärliner feel more than just good about accompanying you also on the next episode of Bard College Berlin life. We hope you’ll savor on our pages its distinctive blend of effervescent craziness, deep conversations, playful idleness, and homely conviviality. Welcome, and welcome back!

The last semester concluded with debates and reflection on the diversity and lack thereof on our syllabi and the new semester, too, promises many occasions to continue thinking through what we are doing. Michael Weinman called for discussions on Public Seminar and a lively debate has ensued. Soon we will publish a longer article by Tamar Maare based on a series of interviews with BCB graduates in which they reflect on liberal education and the job market, continuing also our long-standing commitment to featuring alumni and alumnae on the blog. Two upcoming events  will offer further occasion to discuss the liberal arts in the contemporary world: the upcoming Berlin Weekend will feature a discussion session dedicated to this topic and a public panel discussion with BCB students and faculty is set for February 12th. More details to follow; save the dates!

Another focus for us this term will be student art. We want to continue publishing poetry regularly, and also aim to include accompanying audio recordings with it. Additionally, we look forward to sharing more visual and especially video art. To start us off we have a series of student short films forthcoming over the first weeks, and you will also find video recordings of guest lectures on the blog in the future (there are already quite a few on our YouTube channel!).

Creative content in all forms will come from our blog team – you can still apply! – but we also would like to use the occasion to call for contributions from everyone. Whether it is a poem for the Slam Poetry Club, a photo series of the neighborhood, or an installation for a practicing arts class, please consider submitting it to the blog. There is a small budget available to compensate your efforts.

Looking forward,

Yours,

David

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