2017-2018 Events


Sebastian Helgenberger (IASS Potsdam): The Multiple Benefits of Renewables

Friday, February 16, 2018, 12-2pm

Faculty Club Lounge


Dr. Sebastian Helgenberger leads the “Multiple Benefits of Renewables” project at IASS Potsdam. Building on experiences with Germany’s Energiewende (transition towards renewable energies) Sebastian and his team in their research activities and international science-policy dialogues are putting particular emphasis on the social and economic benefits of renewable energies as drivers of accelerated transitions towards sustainable energy for all.

Allowing for distributed electricity generation, the rapidly expanding renewable energy world is opening up business models for many, including local communities, citizens and citizens’ cooperatives. Experiences from Germany as well as other countries show how domestic energy policy can shape the enabling environment to seizing the social benefits of renewable energy.

Dr. Helgenberger, after giving his expertise insight on sustainable energy, not only for Germany but also in America, concluded his talk with a Q and A session from the audience. 

Co-Sponsor: The American Council on Germany

Bernd Sommer [via Skype]  "Transformation Design. Towards a Sustainable Modernity"

Thursday, February 8, 2018, 2-3:20pm

Dr. Bernd Sommer is the head of the research division „Climate, Culture & Sustainability" at the Norbert Elias Center for Transformation Design & Research (NEC) Position. 

Grappling with Holocaust Memory in the 21st Century

International Holocaust Remembrance Day Panel given by Members of the Holocaust Study Research Group

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University


Reversing the Gaze: African(ist) Perspectives onto Europe

Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 12-2pm

Rapaporte Treasure Hall


The panel consisted of Professor Carina Ray, graduate students Angesom Teklu and Toba Bassey and Professor Maria Madison was the moderator. The focus of this talk was on migration across the world as well as discussing important solutions to the current issues. It concluded with a time of question and answers from the attendees. 

Germany after or before the Elections?

Reflections on Germany's next Government

with Ralf Horlemann

Monday, December 4, 2017, 12-2pm

Faculty Club Lounge


As you may have read in the news, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, CDU, has not been able to form a "Jamaica"-Coalition made up of CDU/CSU, FDP, and Greens. On Sunday, November 19, the FDP suddenly pulled out of negotiations for a coalition. This means that for the first time in its history the German government is in limbo. Chancellor Merkel either has to form a minority government or assemble another coalition, but the only other potential coalition partner, the SPD has said it will not be available for another grand coalition (after support for both CDU/CSU and SPD fell to record lows). 
The more likely alternative at this point are new elections, which would happen some time in March. But would new elections change the results? Would Angela Merkel even run for office again? If not, who would run in her stead? Would voters who came out in large numbers in September be willing to return to the polls in equally high numbers? If not, would the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) win even more seats?  Would the FDP benefit for pulling out of what they called an impossible coalition? Or the Greens who were more willing to compromise? What does this prolonged uncertainty mean for Germany, and for Europe?
German Consul General for New England Ralf Horlemann, who was at our Campusweeks Debate about the electoral systems in September, returned again to Brandeis on Monday, December 4, 2017 to discuss what this means for Germany and Europe. The event concluded with a time of reflection and questions from the audience.


The Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy 

with Christoph Stefes and Kerry Emanuel

Monday, November 27, 2017, 7:30-9:30pm

International Lounge


In our last campusweeks debate under the theme of "Making Choices", generously sponsored by the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., the focus was on nuclear power. Germany's anti-nuclear movement is largely credited for the country's leading role in environmental policy. Since the 1970s German citizens have marched and protested under the banner of 'Atomkraft? Nein Danke' [Atomic Energy? No, Thanks]. The German Green Party grew out of that movement. When three Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors were disabled following a major earthquake and tsunami on March 11 2011, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in protest -- not in Japan, but in cities all over Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had won reelection only months earlier with the promise to "exit the exit" from nuclear power that the red-green coaltion had decided, changed her mind within days of the events of Fukushima and surprised her own party with the decision to immediately shut down 8 of the country's 17 reactors (all those built before 1981). Germany is now scheduled to take its last nuclear power plant off the grid by 2022. 

The attitude towards nuclear power is very different in the United States, which has 104 nuclear reactors up and running and draws about one fifth of its energy from nuclear. Not only the nuclear energy lobby, but even climate scientists like James Hansen view nuclear power as clean energy that is needed to save the planet. 
Two experts debated whether nuclear energy should indeed be considered clean energy or not. Kerry Emanuel is Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT. He was just elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April 2017. He is the author of several books, including What We Know About Climate Change (MIT Press, 2007). Christoph Stefes is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado, Denver. His specialty is political development (authoritarianism and democratization) with a regional focus on the former Soviet Union, especially the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Most recently he co-edited Germany's Energy Transition: A Comparative Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). 
The debate was lively and concluded with a session for the listeners to ask questions. 


Making Choices: The Paris Agreement

with the Brandeis Student Debate Team

Thursday, November 16, 2017, 8pm

Mandel Center for the Humanities G012


There was a lively debate between members of the Brandeis Student Debate Team discussing the role of Germany and the US in the Paris Agreement as well as the agreement's future. It concluded with a Q and A session afterwards! There was free pizza and refreshments. 

Rightwing Populism and the Left in Demise? 

The Rise of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and the Crisis of the Social Democratic Party (SPD): 

Germany after the 2017 Elections

with Dr. Sebastian Voigt, Research Fellow at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich

Friday, November 1, 2017, 12-2pm

Faculty Club Lounge

Dr. Sebastian Voigt is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. He has been a fellow at the Institute for Social Movements in Bochum and a faculty member at the Ruhr University.  He is a former Fulbright Scholar who has published widely in the field of Modern European History on such topics as labor, social democracy and antisemitism. His Eric M. Warburg Chapter tour is made possible by the a generous ERP grant from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. 
In contrast to other European countries, a right wing populist party had not been successful in Germany for a long time. However, in the context of the European economic solidarity measures, the Eurosceptic AfD was founded in 2013. In the following years it managed to get into many state parliaments. The refugee crisis contributed to a further rise of the AfD, changing the political environment in Germany. At the same time the longest continuously existing German party, going back to the 19th century, the SPD had constituted the core of the German parliamentary system together with the conservative CDU. In 2003 the last social democratic chancellor Gerhard Schröder implemented the largest cuts in the German welfare state of the postwar era evoking a crisis for the SPD that has been going on for over a decade.
Dr. Voigt gave a brief background on the most recent Bundestag election in Spetmeber 2017 as well as an understanding of what the AfD party is, who supports them and what their influence is on Germany's politics. The second half of the talk was spent in a Q&A format, where the audience was able to ask follow up questions and understand what needs to be done next in German politics. 

Commemorating Kristallnacht:

Why I chose to leave Germany and Immigrate to the United States to Start my Medical Career.  

with German emigrant Peter Schuntermann

Thursday, November 9, 7:30pm 

Mandel Reading Room 303


Peter Schuntermann arrived in the US aboard the passenger ship, MS “Berlin” in 1959. He had spent 24 years in Germany during the NS-Regime and the early years of the Federal Republic of Germany, or West-Germany. At that time, the young German postwar democracy soon established its policy of reparations with the young State of Israel. Domestically, however, mainstream discourse public and private disavowed its then recent NS-past, resulting in a cultural climate now known as conspiracy of silence. Schuntermann will reflect on what this meant to him as a teenager and young adult at that time, and how he realized that doing the ordinary thing was no longer enough. With a medical degree from the University of Hamburg to his name, a Green Card, and an appointment as intern in a community hospital in Baltimore, he began his first year on American soil. Three years later, in Boston, he entered the newly created field of child and adolescent psychiatry. He has been on the staff of Children’s Hospital and Beth Israel Hospital for many years. 

Attendees and speaker remebered the events of Kristallnacht and talked about currently world affairs. Mr. Schuntermann shared many stories form his childhood experiences in Germany during the war and attending medical school after the war. 

What leadership for Germany in the EU, faced with Rising Populism and Euro-Fatigue?

with Vivien A. Schmidt, Professor of Political Science, Boston University 

co-sponsored by the Department of Politics

Wednesday, November 1, 5-6:30pm

Mandel Reading Room 303

In her talk Professor Vivien Schmidt brought to light the role of Germany's leadership in the EU in coming years, given a weakened Chancellor, a potentially fractious government coalition, and a rising populist opposition in the Bundestag for the first time. The questions of how will Merkel respond to the new French leader's ideas about deepening integration, in particular on the Eurozone, and how will she deal with the on-going refugee crisis, and the growing divisions between East and Western Europe, were discussed during Professor Schmidt's talk. After refreshments were served, a lively Q and A session concluded the presentation.

To Change the World, Start by Changing Your University
with Mandy Singer-Brodowski [via Skype]

Monday, October 30, 2017, 12-2pm

Faculty Club Lounge


In the context of accelerating global sustainability problems, the role of universities in dealing with these problems is getting more and more important. Universities can foster sustainability solutions through research, education and greening their campuses, as well as giving their students the opportunity to get involved in the transition towards sustainability. While engaged in ongoing sustainability projects inside and outside the university, students can make the experience to gain the competencies that are necessary for managing sustainability issues and thereby really make a difference. The presentation focused on the concept of a sustainable and transformative university as well as the students' capacity to become change agents in shaping this new kind of university.

Karolina Wigura: Democracy in Poland

Monday, October 23, 3:30-5pm 

Mandel Reading Room 303
Nearly 30 years after its democratic breakthrough, Poland poses a puzzling and fascinating case for scholars, public intellectuals, and journalists. The questions that were answered during the talk were expansive, for example:
Has Warsaw since 2015 witnessed a "democratic regeneration" as the current government claims, or rather it embarked on a road towards authoritarianism? What has Prawo i Sprawiedliwość exactly changed during the past two years? To what extent can we speak of a continuation of the transformation's logic, and to what extent is this a construction of a new state model by the current Polish government? Is Poland’s current path similar or different than that of Hungary or Turkey?
The talk concluded by discussing the question as to why this party won the last elections and why is its popularity still so high in opinion polls.

Berlin Calling: Reading and Discussion with author Paul Hockenos 

co-sponsored by the Goethe Institut Boston

Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 12-2pm

in Levine-Ross, Hassenfeld [Upstairs Sherman]


Author Paul Hockenos' new book Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin (The New Press, May 2017) is a never-before-told account of the Berlin Wall’s momentous crash, narrated through the divided city's street artists and punk rockers, impresarios and underground agitators. Hockenos, who lived in Berlin during these exciting times, offered us an original chronicle of 1989’s “peaceful revolution,” which upended communism in East Germany, and the wild, permissive post-Wall years of artistic ferment and pirate utopias, when protest and idealism, subaltern techno clubs and sprawling squats were the order of the day. Attendees were able to pose question to the author Hockenos and about his newest book at the end of the talk. 

“Three Elections and a Brexit: The Unraveling of Europe?”

with diplomat Thomas Matussek

Monday, October 2, 2017, 3:30-4:30pm

Mandel Reading Room 303

RSVP required here

The historical promises of European integration, peace, prosperity and a powerful voice in a globalized world, seem to have lost their appeal. War in the east, economic and social meltdown in the south, millions of refugees, xenophobia and nationalism have a led to Brexit, Le Pen and the AfD. The talk grappled with the question of how and if the elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany turned the tide in Europe and if Europe would ever find its way back to the idealistic visions of its founding fathers. 

The German Family in/and the World Today

with Eva-Sabine Zehelein

Wednesday, October 4, 4:30-6pm

Mandel Humanities Center Reading Room 303, RSVP required here.

 This talk provided an overview of the variety of family formations and the socio-cultural as well as political and legal contexts that characterize German family life today. Through discussion and a Q&A time some selected cases were put to analysis. Topics were for example, marriage, divorce law and rates, single parenthood, abortion, "Ehe fuer alle" (marriage for all), Assisted Reproductive Technologies and new families (ICSI and in vitro, surrogacy and sperm / oocyte donation). In addition, globalization, international exchange of people and human tissue as well as international medical tourism were discussed as they continue to challenge German national law, socio-cultural practices of the (nuclear) family and trigger re(framed) family narratives.

Campusweeks “Making Choices”: "Is the German Electoral System More Democratic Than the American One?"

with Ralf Horlemann, German Consul General for New England

and Lucy Goodhart (Brandeis Department of Politics)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 12-2pm

in Lurias, Hassenfeld


This discussion sought to answer questions such as, shich electoral system is more democratic? Why? How well do you really know your own democratic system? What makes a democracy work?

The talk successfully presented a fun interactive way to learn about how the election system differs from the one in the United States and generally about the German Federal Election, two days after it occurred. Attendees were able to pose further questions and statements to those participating in the debate. 

“Statues or Stumbling Stones? Fascism, Racism, and Historical Memorials” 

with Carina Ray (AAAS), Anne Thomas “Stolpersteine”, Nancy Scott (FA), and Grace Hale (History, UVA), co-sponsored by AAAS and FA

Moderator: Sabine von Mering, Director, CGES

Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 12-2pm

in Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library


The Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August sent shockwaves through the entire country, and reignited debate about statues commemorating the confederacy. Drawing on a range of compelling current case studies, both national and transnational in scope, the speakers on this panel explored the questions at the heart of this debate. Professor Grace Hale from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville addressed the removal of confederate and other white supremacist memorials in the US from the historian's perspective. Professor Carina Ray (AAAS) discussed the Rhodes Must Fall campaign in South Africa and the UK, and the contested question of memorializing the slave trade in Ghana. Professor Nancy Scott (FA) spoke about four recent controversies surrounding art and history of monuments - both North and South. During her visit to Brandeis on Tuesday, August 30, Claudia Rankine referenced a new art project memorializing enslaved Africans and marking their sites of enslavement that is modelled after German artist Gunter Demnig's project of Stumbling Stones ['Stolpersteine']. Anne Thomas, long-time colleague of Gunter Demnig's described his unique form of historical memorialization.

Co-sponsored by the Departments of African and Afro-American Studies (AAAS) and Fine Arts (FA).

“Will Angela Merkel Become German Chancellor for a 4thTerm Sept 24?”

with Karl Kaiser (Harvard), Regine Paul (Uni Bielefeld), and Joseph Wippl (BU)

Monday, September 18, 2017, 12-2pm

in International Lounge, Usdan


Moderator: Sabine von Mering, Director, CGES
What issues will move German voters in the upcoming federal elections of September 24? Will Angela Merkel become German Chancellor for a fourth term? CGES invited experts to discuss the general context of foreign and security policy (Karl Kaiser), migration and economic issues (Regine Paul), and the question about the possibility of Russian interference (Joseph Wippl).

“Bringing Democracy Down: What is to be learned from Weimar Germany?”

with German historian Norbert Frei, co-sponsored with by the Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany (ACG)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 12-2pm

in Lurias, Hassenfeld [Upstairs Sherman]


This lecture focused on the crisis and final destruction of Germany’s first democracy in the early 1930s. It gave special attention to the conservative elites which meant to “engage” Hitler in their fight against the political left and far-left – and at the end themselves were overthrown by the Nazis. Looking at present-day America, there was ample room for discussion about some strikingly parallel political risks. 

Prof. Norbert Frei is Director of the Center for 20th Century History at Friedrich-Schiller-Universität in Jena, Germany. He completed his doctoral degree at the University of Munich. He has been a Kennedy Fellow at Harvard, and a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton.  He has also been a guest professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  A major focus of his work has been Vergangenheitsbewältigung, or the ways in which Germans deal with the past.  He has written extensively on the rise of National Socialism, and the politics of amnesty and integration following WWII.