Lecture Series / Ringvorlesung 2021/22: Environmentalism, Sustainability, and Climate Change as Educational Challenges: Lessons from the Past and Present in America and Germany

Jürgen Overhoff (Münster) in cooperation with Simon Richter (University of Pennsylvania)

Environmental protection, sustainability, and climate change are terms that mark the intellectual, political, and educational debates of the first decades of the new millennium. However, all of these topics have longer histories that reach back to the Age of Enlightenment. Particularly in America and in Germany, conservationists, naturalists, activists, and pedagogues joined forces to convince the wider public that ecological awareness mattered. In the Colonial Era, German settlers learned diverse methods of sustainable gardening and agriculture from Native Americans; the American Founder Benjamin Franklin first discovered the effects of the Gulf Stream and warned that massive deforestation would cause climate change; in both the USA and Germany around 1900, National Parks and Naturschutzgebiete were founded as places where visitors were invited to actively learn about ecological issues; in the 20th century “Waldpädagogik” and “Waldkindergarten” became popular concepts of progressive education; in 1970, American universities established Earth Day with an emphasis on teach-ins and environmental action. Today, more and more educational programs at German schools and American universities focus on the need to address environmental issues in a globalized world struggling to confront the climate emergency. This series of lectures, organized by the Münster Center for German-American Educational History, seeks to explore and address environmentalism, sustainability, and climate change as educational challenges from a variety of historical perspectives.

28 October 2021 - Prof. Dr. Simon Richter (Philadelphia): The German Origins of American Academic Forestry and the Cultural Translation of Sustainability

4 November 2021 - Prof. Dr. Katherine Faull (Bucknell): German Moravians, native Americans and methods of sustainable gardening and agriculture in the eighteenth century

11 November 2021 - Prof. Dr. Heinrich Detering (Göttingen): Goethe’s didactic poem The Metamorphosis of Plants

18 November 2021 - Prof. Dr. Jürgen Overhoff (Münster): Benjamin Franklin and the didactics of climate change

25 November 2021 - Prof. Dr. Kai Sina (Münster): Goethe, Emerson and Bellow on Nature

2 December 2021 - Prof. Dr. Caroline Schaumann (Emory): From Alexander von Humboldt’s Nature Edification to John Muir’s Wilderness Cure

9 December 2021 - Prof. Dr. Frank Uekötter (Birmingham): Going Nuclear: Learning from Germany's Atomic History

16 December 2021 - Prof. Dr. Joela Jacobs (University of Arizona): Umweltschutz Made in Germany: Environmental Education and Its Transcultural Discontents

23 December 2021 - Nicholas K. Johnson, M.A. (Münster): Hurricane Histories as Warning and Experiment: HBO’s Historical Depictions of Hurricane Katrina in Dramatic and Documentary Series

13 January 2022 - Melanie Hankins, M.A. (Münster): Decommissioned Bases: From Military Places to Green Spaces

20 January 2022 - Prof. Dr. Philip V. Scarpino (IUPUI, Indianapolis): The Great Paradox:  Struggling to Manage Modern Rivers for Controversial, Contradictory, and Conflicting Purposes

27 January 2022 - Prof. Dr. Bethany Wiggin (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia): Christoph Saur’s Torn-Down House: Towards an Anti-Colonial History of Germantown