College of Arts & Sciences Goes International

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Those participating in the "AU in Germany" experience pose in front of the Johann Sebastian Bach statue in Leipzig.

Three Ashland University faculty members and 13 AU students participated this summer in a four-week “AU in Germany” experience that included a stay in Wittenberg as well as weekend excursions to nearby cities.

The group spent May 16 to June 6 in Germany and stayed at Colleg Wittenberg, an educational institution that partners with the university.

According to Dr. Rene Paddags, assistant professor of political science and director of the “AU in Germany” program, students took two summer courses as part of the program, with one week of instruction held in Ashland and two weeks in Germany.

“Two of the courses offered this year -- Contemporary Germany and Art & Ideas -- focused on some aspect of German history or culture,” he said. “This way, each student took at least one course that would tie in with their cultural experience in Germany, while also helping them to advance their curriculum at AU.”

Paddags said in addition to the classroom experiences in Germany, the students attended lectures on Martin Luther, the peaceful revolution of 1989, life and education in Germany, and 20th century anti-fascist art.

“This last lecture was given by a local art collector, Dr. Gerd Gruber, whose art collection is now a central piece of a new art exhibit in Munich at the new NS-Dokumentationszentrum, a museum dedicated to the remembrance of the evil deeds of the Nazis,” he said.

Once a week, AU students also had the opportunity to converse with local Wittenbergers.

“On weekends and for the last week, we went on excursions throughout Germany. Our first destinations were Leipzig and Dresden, the former known for its connection to Johann Sebastian Bach and the latter for its stunning Baroque architecture and art,” Paddags said.

On the second weekend, students had the opportunity to go on their own adventures and they were able to see Neuschwanstein and Prague, among other destinations.

“During the last week, it was finally time to pay Berlin a visit, which always has much more to offer than can be possibly seen in a single day. Then we went on to Weimar and Buchenwald with its stark contrast between the cultural achievements of Goethe and Schiller and the destruction of civilization in the nearby concentration camp,” he said. “In Erfurt, the students had an opportunity to see a beautiful medieval town, as well as visit the nearby medieval castle Wartburg and the town of Eisenbach, birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach.”

Through the AU in Germany program, students can meet their Global Passport Strategies core requirement. Paddags was joined on the trip by faculty members Wendy Schaller, associate professor of art; and Robert Bergosh, associate professor of chemistry. 

“The program, organized by the College of Arts and Sciences through the Global Education Office, is meant to give students an opportunity to experience another culture as well as appreciation for a different way of life,” Paddags said. “Students also become more confident in facing new situations and learn to handle unexpected situations.”