The concept of community is central to the Leipzig Model for American Studies. By community we mean openness, communication, and interaction with absolutely as little hierarchy and formal barriers as possible. Community is meant to encourage a vital learning culture and empower the pursuit of individual goals.
Three types of community are especially important for American Studies Leipzig. The first form is of course within the American Studies program itself. We want students not to see themselves as passive participants in a degree program but as active members in a learning community. This liberal arts education culture is further enhanced by another type of community, namely American Studies Leipzig's active cooperation with many different programs throughout Leipzig University. This permits students of American Studies to enjoy the full benefits and riches of a large and diverse university.
Last but certainly not least, American Studies Leipzig strives to be a constructive citizen that is active with the broader community. This means that we cooperate with teachers, journalists, community leaders, business people, and government officials to help encourage a fuller and more active public dialogue about the complexity of American life, and about both the importance and controversies surrounding the impact of American influence in the region, nationally, and world-wide. You can learn more about some of the institutions we work with in our "Cooperations" page.
You can also keep up to date about ASL activities by following us on social media:
American Studies Leipzig believes in a fusion of "The Humboldtian Ideal" with "Dewey Pragmatism," which stresses the importance of being able to apply knowledge in the world. Together, these ideals build a unique liberal arts education program.
This mission is embedded in the Professional Skills Modules (SQMs — Schlüsselqualifikationsmodule in German) of our programs. In the BA program’s first year, iTASK helps students to develop a vision for their academic and professional future and to think about how to pursue it. In the MA program, iCAN and offers skills needed to excel both professionally and academically.
Additionally, our community is organized around the idea to encourage students to think early and often about Getting Involved in both campus and community affairs, to forge networks, improve skills, and gain many different experiences that build self-confidence. A study abroad or an internship experience can be another important element in this, as can be learning more about the professional paths that former students of American Studies Leipzig have taken.
Employers of all stripes—private sector, public sector, non-profits, education, cultural institutions—are all looking for a certain type of 'package' in a person they seek to hire: someone with good academic training, a solid base of knowledge, developed professional skills, and individual initiative as expressed in engagement with some sort of 'extracurricular' activity, or community service. The last attribute reveals for employers the ability of an individual to 'give' as well as to 'take,' and such a person tends to work much better in teams, especially international teams.
In short, by getting involved, by pursuing your individual interests, you develop your abilities as a citizen to give to the community, and by doing so, enhance your career (a sensible integration of idealism and pragmatism). That is why we urge students early in their university experience to get involved with the community, so as to enrich their education, and to empower chances for future employment.
In Leipzig and the region, there are a long list of opportunities to get involved with the community. A short sampling can be found below.
If you are interested in a more focused German-American angle, a list of groups working to improve transatlantic dialogue can be found at the US Embassy website.
The City of Leipzig maintains a list of the many multicultural groups active in Leipzig—a great way to place American Studies in a more global context. That list, along with contact information for all the groups, is available on the City of Leipzig website.
Further possibilities for civic engagement can be found at the following web pages:
American Studies Leipzig seeks to be an active participant in the public dialogue about the nature of American life, and about the role of the United States in German, European, and world affairs. We pursue public dialogue at the local, regional, and national level; and our colleagues have appeared in local and national radio, local and national TV, and local and national newspapers (examples include MDR Radio, MDR Fernsehen, Deutschlandfunk, Phoenix TV, Leipziger Volkszeitung, General Anzeiger (Bonn), Chemnitzer Freie Presse, Magdeburger Volkstimme, Ostsee Zeitung).
American Studies Leipzig also receives regular requests for our scholars and staff to participate in continuing education programs for many different sectors of society, including teachers, journalists, members of the business community, and government officials. We see it as one of our key responsibilities to participate in these crucial education programs. Such civic engagement is a central way for American Studies to be an active citizen in the broader community.
Examples of such civic engagement include American Studies Leipzig's participation in teacher training workshops for high school teachers from throughout Mitteldeutschland (Saxony, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt), centering on themes such as Globalization and American Society. In addition, ASL regularly participates in "Picador at School" events at which the current Picador Professor visits local schools to discuss creative writing with high school students. The workshops take place both at the university and at schools, and they center around the themes of democracy, diversity, and creativity, which are also at the heart of the Picador Professorship.
More detailed information on past and upcoming outreach events can be found in the News and Events section.