German Studies Program Receives National Honor

Kalamazoo College’s Department of German Studies is one of three German programs in the country being honored this year by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG).

The department is receiving the AATG’s German Center of Excellence award and will be honored during the association’s annual ceremony from noon to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, November 13, available through Zoom. The designation is presented to well-established and growing German programs with demonstrated excellence in instruction, and strong support from administration, professional colleagues, alumni and students.

“There is clear evidence that the program has strong support from the administration, professional colleagues, parents and students, and has strong ties to the wider community,” AATG Executive Director Michael R. Shaughnessy said in a congratulatory letter to K’s German department. “Most impressive is the program’s curriculum. There is a clear, articulated sequence of instructional programming that is standards‐based and reflects current methodologies. Outcomes at each instructional level are clearly articulated and diverse learning styles are respected through varied instructional and assessment techniques. The materials used in the program are culturally authentic and interdisciplinary connections have been established.”

This year’s Center of Excellence honorees “represent the best in our profession,” Awards Committee Chair J.J. Melgar said in a news release. “It is inspiring to see how much these extraordinary German teachers have accomplished and how their students and our profession have benefited from their work.”

The faculty members in K’s German department include Co-Chair and Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of German Kathryn Sederberg, Co-Chair and Professor of Classics Elizabeth Manwell, Instructor of German Stefania Malacrida and Assistant Professor of German Petra Watzke.

Sederberg also was honored last year after a nomination through her peers when she received the Goethe‐Institut/AATG Certificate of Merit furthering the teaching of German in the U.S. through creative activities, innovative curriculum, successful course design and significant contributions to the profession.

“This is a great honor,” Sederberg said. “In a time when many language enrollments are declining, we are fortunate to be part of a campus culture that encourages study abroad and advanced language study. As faculty members, students see what we do in the classroom, but there is also a lot of our work done behind the scenes to design and coordinate a thoughtful curriculum, and to think about how our philosophy of teaching is reflected in our courses from German 101 to the senior seminar. It is a great feeling to receive recognition for the work we are doing in our department, and for the strength of our program. This award also recognizes the excellence of our students, and our outstanding alumni who have graduated as German majors and minors. We are always grateful to our amazing students who push us to be better educators, and to our TAs from Germany who make up such an important part of our community. Hopefully this national award will also help us attract prospective students who are looking to continue their study of German, or students who are looking for a meaningful, immersive study abroad experience in the German-speaking world. Taking language classes in college is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and gain new perspectives for thinking about culture, language and society.”

“I can only echo my colleague’s statements about this honor,” Watzke added. “The award celebrates the hard work of faculty, students and TAs in the German Studies department here at K. It is especially meaningful for us because it recognizes the impact of our innovative curriculum, which defines student excellence not only as a language goal, but also in terms of community building and social justice efforts.”

Kathryn Sederberg teaching a course in German
Kathryn Sederberg is the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of German and co-chair of the Department of German Studies.
Petra Watzke
Assistant Professor of German Petra Watzke