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15 October 2004

New Course at Germany's Oldest University

The secretary of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to speak in Heidelberg at the opening of the M.A. course in American Studies on 20 October 2004

The new Master of Arts course in American Studies will be initiated with an academic ceremony at 6.15 p.m. on 20 October 2004 in the Great Hall of the Old University in Heidelberg. The ceremony also celebrates the foundation of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA), which provides the course. The guest speaker is Prof. Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Oslo. The topic he has chosen is "The USA and Europe after 9/11: Drift or Break?" Other guests of honour are Prof. Peter Hommelhoff, rector of the University of Heidelberg, Prof. Peter Frankenberg, higher education minister of Baden-Württemberg, Jürgen Chrobog, state secretary of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin and Geeta Pasi, deputy consul general of the United States in Frankfurt am Main.

"It was less than three years ago that we began with the initiative to coordinate and intensify American Studies in Heidelberg at an interdisciplinary level," says Prof. Detlef Junker, founding director of the HCA. With the inception of the M.A. in American Studies life begins in earnest for the Center. The one-year postgraduate course is angled at students who already have a degree and want to enhance their qualifications by means of the Masters programme. 16 applicants have made it through the selection process. They come from Germany, the United States, Eastern Europe, China, Albania and Palestine. "We are very happy that we have had such a response from abroad as well as within Germany," says Junker. "This shows that the University of Heidelberg has an excellent reputation among its international rivals in the field of higher education."

For one year the budding America specialists will be engaging with the United States in exclusive seminars, lectures and interdisciplinary colloquia. Many of them have received grants and scholarships to help them defray the course fees of 5,000 euros. The curriculum encompasses history and geography, politics and constitutional law, religious studies and American literature. The lectures in the winter semester are open to all students at the University of Heidelberg. The international orientation of the HCA is reflected in its teaching staff. Two of the six professors come from the United States.

"We are very proud of having achieved so much in such a short space of time," says Junker. Confirmation comes from Prof. Angelos Chaniotis, Heidelberg University's vice-rector for international relations: "The story of the HCA is already a success story!"

Alongside teaching the HCA also fulfils two other functions. As a research institute the Center coordinates international and interdisciplinary research projects alongside the supervision of doctoral theses. In addition, a series of public lectures will provide a forum for discussion between the Center and the broader public.

Geir Lundestad, the guest speaker on 20 October 2004, was born in Sulitjelma (Norway) in 1945. Since 1990 he has been secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the annual Nobel Peace Prize. For the same length of time he has also been the director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. He studied history, English and political science at the Universities of Oslo and Tromsø, where he was awarded his doctorate in 1976. From 1979 to 1988 Lundestad was professor of American studies at the University of Tromsø, teaching history there from 1988 to 1990. Numerous sojourns abroad have taken him to the United States at regular intervals, where he worked as a visiting professor at the University of Harvard and the Woodrow Wilson Center (Washington D.C.). Since 1991 Geir Lundestad has been extraordinary professor of international history at the University of Oslo.

Lundestad is an expert on American foreign policy and has published a number of monographs and articles on international history and transatlantic relations. His latest publication is "The United States and Europe. From 'Empire' by Invitation to Transatlantic Drift" (2003).

For more information on the HCA and the M.A. in American studies go to

Please address any inquiries to
Daniel Sommer, HCA
phone: 06221/7963417 or 0171/2131118
fax: 06221/7963429

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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