Published April 09, 2019 by Bowdoin News

Exploring Germany's Role in Protecting the Environment

The German Department recently received a grant from Germany to bolster US-German relations. Bowdoin faculty used the chance to also recognize the importance of the humanities in the study and protection of the environment.
Shades of Green event

The German Department used the grant to organize a two-event program at Bowdoin called Shades of Green. The funding came from the German Federal Foreign Office's "Wunderbar Together," a yearlong celebration of German-American friendship. 

"We would like to renew the dialogue with our American friends about the importance of our relationship and how we can shape it for the future," according to the German Federal Foreign Office. "As we face shared challenges and societies become more divided, we must build more—and stronger—bridges between our peoples." 

Bowdoin's two Wunderbar Together events—a film screening and a townhall-style conversation—took place in the new Roux Center for the Environment. The venue was selected to "emphasize the centraility of the humanities in the study of the environment," said Jill Smith, who is Bowdoin's Osterweis Associate Professor of German.

Students at the Event

Wunderbar Together March events at Bowdoin:

  • The German Department screened award-winning German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin's 2012 documentary Polluting Paradise and held a post-film discussion with Joela Jacobs, assistant professor of German studies and an affiliate faculty member with the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona. Jacobs also led a discussion on the German politics of recycling in Assistant Professor of German Jens Klenner's course Made in Germany. Akin's film provoked a lively discussion between Jacobs and students, staff, faculty and community members about the role of global and local relations regarding the causes, prevention, and cleanup of trash-based pollution.
  • "Talking Green," was a townhall style trio of presentations followed by an open discussion about German energy consumption, pollution, wildlife management and preservation, and land use—all through the lens of German history and European politics. The speakers were Laura Henry, Bowdoin associate professor of government and legal studies; Thomas Lekan, associate professor of history and earth, ocean, and environment at the University of South Carolina; and Thomas Fleischman, assistant professor of history at the University of Rochester. Klenner moderated the event.

The program was made possible by funding from Wunderbar Together, a comprehensive and collaborative initiative funded by the German Federal  Foreign Office, implemented by the Goethe Institut, and supported by the  Federation of German Industries. It was organized by the Bowdoin College Department of German and co-sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program, with support from the Charles F. Adams Lectureship Fund.