German Studies

Program Information

In studying languages, students acquire not only a linguistic skill but also an understanding of other peoples’ literatures, histories, and cultures. They gain a new perspective from which to view their own country, way of life, and language. Knowledge of a second language is an important facet of the liberal arts program. Proficiency in a second language at the 201 level is a graduation requirement.

German courses at all levels emphasize speaking, reading, writing, and listening while addressing topics related to German culture. The disciplinary basis for the program, German Studies, draws on literature, history, gender studies, popular culture, music, architecture, and film (among other things) to aid students in the development of a critical understanding of the German-speaking world and their own. The German Studies curriculum uses a genre- and literacy-based approach to language learning that is dedicated to integrating linguistic knowledge, cultural learning and textual analysis throughout the four-year major curriculum, top to bottom. For example, through genre-focused courses such as those on film and contemporary German culture, the German program recognizes the importance of new media in the 20th and 21st centuries and how these media have reshaped the nature of German culture. Other advanced courses take a wider historical view, examining the changing nature of German culture through the lens of a particular genre (such as film) or theme (such as minority cultures).

Most Kalamazoo College students participate in the study abroad program; for students interested in German, there are opportunities in Erlangen and Lüneburg. Course work and off-campus experiences are complemented by on-campus opportunities that maintain or improve a student’s language skills, including conversation groups led by teaching assistants from Germany.

Faculty members meet students inside and outside the classroom, participate in campus activities, and counsel students regarding career choices in foreign service, education, publishing, international business, and other fields. A number of German majors, as well as students in the German program, have been able to participate in internships with German companies, both in the United States and in Europe.

As part of the study abroad program at Kalamazoo College, scholarships for one year of further study at the German universities of Bonn and Lüneburg are available to qualified graduates of the College. Students from German Studies have been particularly successful in obtaining Fulbright fellowships and other support for further study, research, or work in Germany. Competition for these scholarships is not limited to German majors.


Kathryn Sederberg, Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of German Studies. BA Saint Olaf College PhD University of Michigan

Petra Watzke, Assistant Professor of German. BA Univ Regensburg, German MA University of Colorado PhD Washington University, St. Louis


  • K has appointed 10 faculty members as endowed chairs. These positions are funded through the annual earnings from an endowed gift to the College. The post K Honors 10 Faculty Members as Endowed Chairs appeared first on News and Events.
  • A $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will help fortify Kalamazoo College’s language programs through the American Rescue Plan. The post Language Programs Receive $500,000 Grant appeared first on News and Events.
  • German Studies Co-Chair Kathryn Sederberg will be honored in a virtual ceremony November 20 by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG). The post German Studies Co-Chair Earns National Teaching Honor appeared first on News and Events.
  • Without study abroad available this year, Kalamazoo College faculty and staff got creative and developed a series of internships for 20 juniors who otherwise would’ve spent a term overseas, giving them experience through campus partners such as the Center for International Programs, Center for Career and Professional Development and the Center for Civic Engagement. An […]
  • When Kalamazoo College students began their international immersion experiences this academic year, the Center for International Programs (CIP) didn’t expect a global pandemic to change anyone’s plans. Regardless, a once-in-a-century historical challenge emerged. “This is my first worldwide phenomenon,” said CIP Executive Director Margaret Wiedenhoeft in discussing COVID-19, an illness that has infected millions and […]