Stepping into my new role of the BMW Center Director, I look at the future of German and European Studies at a time when the transatlantic relationship has taken a rather tempestuous turn. And yet I am buoyed by the fact that bright young people are flocking to the Center and committing themselves to regional studies. High-profile speakers are keen to use the Center as a stage to reflect on the longevity and stability of the transatlantic alliance. In sum, the everyday work of imagining, creating, and nurturing a shared world continues both in Europe and the United States. As our societies are undergoing rapid technological, social, and economic change, we very much need the kind of deep understanding of Europe that is cultivated at the BMW Center. Our bridging of academic training with practical skills, and of classroom teaching with informal mentoring by faculty and alumni, I am sure, will empower our students to meet the challenges ahead.
As we prepare for the Centennial of the founding of the School of Foreign Service, the Center takes the long view of transatlantic relations. I see the tremendous benefits that have come from moments of conflict: President Wilson's internationalism was key to the dimantling of German empire, whose erstwhile democratization of Germany would have been impossible without American assistance. As a cultural scholar, I especially appreciate the emergence of a vibrant popular culture in that context, which energized and often politicized young people and contributed to the great democractic transformations of the 1960s. But the American occupation also opened the door to the desegregation of the U.S. army and dismantling of Jim Crow. And Europe's efforts to bind nationalist fervor and supremacist thinking after the Holocaust have also boosted skepticism of nationalist myths and social exclusion elsewhere.
I want to close this letter–my first–by thanking my predecessor, Jeffrey Anderson, as well as the Center's very capable and fun-loving staff, my colleagues in the Master's Program of German and European Studies, as well as alumni and students, for making the Center such an inspiring community.
Graf Goltz Professor and Director
BMW Center for German and European Studies
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University