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9th Transatlantic Students Symposium

Confronting the Crises of the Twenty-First Century:
Politics, Economics and Identity

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Georgetown University,
Oregon State University
Madrid and Berlin, March 4-13, 2011


Program Description

The Transatlantic world has been unsettled by major crises over the last years. The virtual collapse of the financial system, followed by the deepest economic recession since World War II, and then the specter of a debt-driven apocalypse dominated public and policy attention. Although the worst has been averted in most countries, major issues remain. Some countries like Greece and Spain will be plagued by economic problems for years. Stronger economies like the United States and Germany will find it challenging to regain the wealth and economic momentum that they previously enjoyed - especially as power slowly shifts to the East and South.

The immediacy of this financial and economic crisis, however, has masked temporarily more fundamental challenges in the Transatlantic world. Deep policy disagreements over the appropriate responses to the economic challenges have arisen within Europe and between European countries and the United States. Some have advocated Keynesian stimulus, while others have pursued Hayekian neoliberal remedies. Such economic dissensus - following years of disagreement about foreign policy - has resulted in an unprecedented tensions in the western world. Yet, the economic crisis is accompanied by the continued rise of trans-migratory labor, the ongoing restructuring of industry and the labor market, the expansion of transnational corporations, and the inexorable rise of new economic superpowers such as China and India.

Despite decades of rhetoric and efforts to "build Europe" or achieve "unity in diversity," European institutions have been almost invisible in face of the economic crisis. The much vaunted decline of the nation-state has proven illusory, with even a modicum of supranational policy coordination absent. Almost all of the policy responses have occurred within the confines of the "withering" nation-state and any international coordination that happened was a consequence of old fashioned bilateral deals. What does this say about the current and future capacities of "Europe?"

In the wake of these processes, new versions of (old) national identity narratives have regained currency. In both the United States and Europe, this is connected to rising concerns with immigration and on-going challenges in accepting multicultural and multi-religious realities. Many states are mired in ongoing processes of redefining their national narratives, complicated by persistent movements for increased subnational autonomy. The resurgent quest for national solutions puts renewed pressure on national minorities and immigrant groups.

The 9th Transatlantic Students Symposium will address these crises of the early twenty-first century through the lenses of politics, economics and culture. Students and academic representatives from Georgetown University, Oregon State University and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin will come together for a week of joint activities, workshops, discussions, and a concluding conference in Berlin, prepared by a field trip to Madrid, an ideal location to explore policy responses to the financial crisis and the dynamics between national, subnational and supranational policymakers.

Symposium Week Field Trips

Workshops: Universidad Carlos III, Madrid; Universidad de Alcala

Site Visits: Madrid, Toledo; El Escorial; Berlin: German Historical Museum

Institutional Visits: Madrid: Meeting with former President Aznar; Berlin: Friedrich Ebert Foundation; Heinrich Böll Foundation; Bundestag

Total participants: 31


Philipp Kneis, PD Dr. Reinhard Isensee (Humboldt),
Dr. Eric Langenbacher, Marie Gschwindt de Gyor (Georgetown),
Allison Davis-White Eyes, Brent Steel (OSU)

Student Organizers

Regina Berthold, Stefanie Krueger, Marcel-André Wuttig (Humboldt)

Student Participants (not organizers)

22 (Humboldt: 9, Georgetown: 6, OSU: 7)

Conference Program

Symposium Week Program

Partners and Supporters

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: International Office,
Humboldt-Universität, Philosophical Faculty II,
American Studies Program,
Humboldt-Universität, Students Union English and American Studies

Georgetown University:
BMW Center for German and European Studies
Department of Government

Oregon State University:
Public Policy Graduate Program,
Diversity & Cultural Engagement (Intercultural Student Services)

Max Kade Foundation

Holiday Land Richter Reisen, Berlin

see also: Latest Program Report

back to: Symposia

Puerta de Alcalá (Wikimedia Commons)

Universidad de Alcalá (Wikimedia Commons)

Museo del Prado (Wikimedia Commons)

Reichstag / Deutscher Bundestag

Deutscher Bundestag

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

Old Texaco Station, Corvallis, OR

Pine Ridge, SD

New Orleans, LA

Aberdeen, WA

Transatlantic Students Symposia