German Studies is awarded CLAS Grant for “Decolonizing Area Studies: Towards Intercultural Citizenship and Social Justice”

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences issued a call for proposals in the summer for a “NEW CLAS GRANTS INITIATIVE: Anti-Racist Scholarship, Pedagogy, and Workplace Climate.” The College awarded four grants to interdisciplinary projects across CLAS. One of the grants was awarded to three members of the German Studies Section, Anke Finger, Isabell Sluka and Manuela Wagner, a faculty/graduate student team, who received funding to raise awareness and implement curricular changes, based on 3 phases, in order to decolonize area studies in language and culture learning contexts.

The project is intended to facilitate discussion and dialog by inviting experts in order to learn collaboratively about these complex topics from a variety of perspectives. The team positions itself as co-learners and co-facilitators to collectively aim for change in area studies curricula. Each phase invites experts from within and without UConn to participate in the conversation and the collaboration.

Phase I: Awareness Building

The goal of the first phase is to raise awareness of colonial continuities in area studies. It consists of a series of lectures with scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds centered around decolonization theory and practice, culminating in a symposium at the end of the academic year.

Accompanying the lecture series, and in preparation of the symposium, a LANGSA (the graduate student organization within LCL) study group will be formed for graduate students interested in the topic of decolonization, and in particular decolonization and language education. In addition, the participants will organize and hold small workshops on topics such as material development, or how to start conversations on difficult topics such as racism.

Phase II: Curriculum & Course Development

The goal of the second phase is to move towards practice and think of ways to translate theories into learning materials and curricula. A 2-day symposium in May 2021 brings together (online) experts from outside and faculty and graduate students from within UConn to explore, examine and disseminate practices from within university language departments, sharing ideas about existing practices of attempts to decolonize languages curricula.

Phase III: Implementation & Multiplication

The third and final phase (2021-2022) consists of piloting the implementation of a curriculum that integrates lessons learned throughout the professional learning community work and during the symposium. All participants will serve as multipliers, but graduate students in particular are encouraged to share their learning and experiences, as well as their ideas for the further development of the different language programs in TA meetings with their respective sections and with interested graduate students from other units.

For questions about this initiative please contact either member of the team!

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