During the 2011-12 academic year, CCGES faculty affiliates Ulrich Best (Geography) and Dagmar Soennecken (Public Policy and Administration) have overseen the 17th Annual Glendon International Studies Symposium at York University’s Glendon College. This project brings together a group of Glendon students for a directed-reading course, symposium and study tour which focus on one specific country and region, in this case, Germany.
On Saturday, March 31st, 2012, the students will be hosting a one-day conference which they have organized around the theme of Prospects and Challenges for Contemporary Germany.
The Symposium looks at a variety of issues about Germany’s role in Europe and the world. As one of its initial members, Germany has risen to perhaps the central actor in the European Union. Yet this new-found status has also brought with it hesitation, doubt and criticism from inside and outside the country. Recently, Germany has gained widespread attention with regard to its role in the debt crisis bail-out. As the 4th largest economy in the world, Germany will be shouldering a substantial degree of responsibility for curbing European debt. But can it alone rescue Europe? In addition to its role as an economic heavy-weight, Germany has also been a leader in environmental policy and renewable energy. Following Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Germany has reaffirmed that it will cease all nuclear power production and close all plants by 2022, a move that has created considerable discussion globally. In the area of security and foreign policy, Germany seems to still be in search of a consistent direction, with some recent decisions (e.g. its decision not to send troops to Libya) puzzling observers. Meanwhile, its Constitutional Court has released some decisions in the area of national security that strike a decidedly different note from that of its North American counterparts. Finally, the debate about multiculturalism has gained steam in Germany, with the conservative German chancellor Merkel declaring it as having “utterly failed”. Figuring out how to utilize its education system to successfully integrate its immigrants is perhaps Germany’s greatest challenge in this regard.
The conference begins with a keynote by Dr. Birgit Mahnkopf from the Berlin School of Economics and Law, who will be critically assessing Germany’s role in the European debt crisis during the morning session, The Euro Crisis: Germany to the Rescue? Afternoon sessions will cover recent developments in German environmental policies; Germany’s changing role in European and transatlantic security relations; its approach to security measures and human dignity vis-a-vis Canada and the US; and the social impact of immigrant integration policies via the German education system, in comparison with Canadian and US practices. All panels feature a mixture of leading academics, younger scholars and practitioners.
Each year, the Glendon International Studies Symposium project provides a unique opportunity for senior undergraduate students to gain more than just academic experience. Aside from the conference, the project consists of a series of weekly seminars during the fall term and a field trip following the conference. In previous years, the proceedings of conferences have also been published together with the students’ own research papers.
The Symposium is made possible through the generous support of a number of institutions inside and outside York University including the Office of the Vice-President Academic & Provost, the Glendon College Student Union (GCSU), the European Union Centre of Excellence, York International, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
To register, please visit the Symposium’s website: www.germanysymposium.org/en/registration
Donations are kindly welcomed and can be made online at: www.germanysymposium.org/en/sponsor.
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