In the age of globalization, the cultural experience of the migrant is defining more and more what it means to be human. This is why the German Studies faculty believes that sustained immersion in a different culture is essential to a modern education, regardless of major. Adjusting to different customs, perspectives, and values as an individual within a group of native speakers allows our students to experience the dynamics of social integration from a marginal position, thus enabling them to see their own cultures in a different light.
Language has meaning only in its cultural context. That's why we teach as much about mentalities in our German courses as we do vocabulary and grammar. After four semesters of German, most students qualify for study in Germany and Austria, which, along with Switzerland, are multicultural societies with distinct histories, unique cultures, and different perspectives on immigration and the political process. Although many Germans speak excellent English, and graduate curricula are now taught in English, the American graduate students we interviewed in Germany were unanimous in the opinion that proficiency in German was essential to their success.
Germany is actively recruiting students for graduate programs across the curriculum, especially in STEM disciplines. Germany offers more financial support to foreign students than any other country. German-speaking countries also offer unique job opportunities. In an increasingly international and competitive job market, studies and internships in Germany open the doors to markets in the EU, where Germany is the dominant economic power, and in Russia and China, where Germany has developed a strong presence. Knowing German also gives you unmediated access to the greatest literature humankind has produced. Alumni and alumnae report that their German finds regular application in disciplines such as philosophy, history, art history, international studies, religious studies, and musicology.
The main abstract goals—student learning outcomes—of German Studies are proficiency in the German language and deep understanding of the cultures of countries in which German is spoken. Concrete student learning outcomes in German-language proficiency are driven by international language proficiency standards—by the Interagency Language Roundtable Scale (ILR scale), the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines), and the Common European Language Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
In choosing to major or minor in German Studies, you will be joining an elite. Of over one hundred international fellowships and scholarships awarded to Puget Sound students since 2003 (Fulbright, DAAD, Congress-Bundestag Exchanges etc.), German students have won over thirty!