What is Jackson Janes doing?

Freitag, 6. Mai 2016 | 

Schlagwörter »  |  Thema: 2016-1, englisch, Newsletter, Was macht eigentlich?

Dr. Jackson Janes, an alumni of Albert-Ludwig’s Freiburg University, heads the American think-tank “American Institute for Contemporary German Studies” (AICGS), which recently celebrated its 30th year. Alumni-News spoke with Dr. Janes about his studies in Freiburg, his work on the transatlantic relationship, and opportunities for studying in Germany.
Alumni-News: You currently oversee numerous offices that advocate for a German-American friendship. Is this connected to your time studying in Freiburg?

Jackson Janes: My interests in a transatlantic relationship essentially began in Freiburg. I landed in Germany a 19 year-old student, full of high hopes and curiosity. At the time it was common for students to spend a year abroad, usually in Europe. Because I had learned a fair amount of German from high school and at my university, Colgate University, I was naturally inclined to spend my year abroad in Germany. I came about a program called the IES Program to Freiburg which was, back in 1967, still a relatively new program. What I noticed about the IES program was the fact that participants were supposed to be “Ordentlicher Studierender” at the university meaning that it was required of them to take all classes in German. It was at first not so easy, but that went by quite fast and I picked up the language pretty quickly. Because of my placement in a student dorm, I was also quickly assimilated.

Jackson Janes, President of the AICGS
Jackson Janes, President of the AICGS

Alumni-News: You studied in Germany during the especially wild year of 1968. Do you have any particular memories from that year?

Jackson Janes: The 67/68 school year was certainly an exciting experience. The student unrest seen in Germany was certainly also present in the US. Because of this I was able to draw an interesting comparison. There were various reasons and causes of the student activities in both countries but there were also common denominators linking the two phenomena. When you’re abroad, you tend to reflect more often on your own country. At the same time I learned more about Germany, not just the politics, but much about the history. My curiosity and interest in the differences and similarities between countries and cultures was firmly grounded in and shaped by this specific context.

Alumni-News: Today you are the president of the “American Institute for Contemporary German Studies” (AICGS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. What do you think is the most important goal of the AICGS?

Jackson Janes: After living in Freiburg, I stayed in West Germany for another 12 years. First at the university in Gießen, then as director of the German-American Institute in Tübingen, and then finally as director of the European Office of the German Marshall Fund – an American foundation in Bonn. I found that my many years in Germany confirmed what I had experienced in Freiburg. During this time there were various challenges to German-American relations. However in all of my professional endeavors I have always had to try to build a bridge between the two countries. Today I am doing that through my work at AICGS in Washington. For many years we have worked on the political, economic, and cultural questions of German-American relations in the context of the transatlantic partnership. AICGS is a think-tank, so to speak. We analyze various challenges that face Germany and the US. And we try to give advice as to how solutions can be found. Our target groups are decision makers involved in politics, the economy, and other scientific institutes.

We are also affiliated with Johns Hopkins University – a university that was founded in 1876 based on a German model. From their example I can see the extent of the interconnectedness between the American and German universities. The exchange of research and technology is as extensive as the exchange of students and teachers. In the globalization of science, the connection between German and American universities is especially notable. This process is also supported by German and American organizations like the DAAD, Fulbright, and the Humboldt foundation.

Alumni-News: Which is why BA and Master students come to study in Germany?

Jackson Janes: The growing variety of English speaking courses at German universities make studying in Germany increasingly interesting for Americans who recognize the trend of Globalization and want a better understanding. Germanys leading role in Europe is surely another reason. The offering of a wide range of subjects is also attractive, in addition to the fact that studying in Germany is considerably cheaper. Today the students are much more aware of what they study and why they study it. If they can make use of the advantages of the American and the German academic track, they will double their job opportunities.

Alumni-News: Why are you now involved with Freiburg University?

Jackson Janes: It was in Freiburg that my eyes were opened and my curiosity sparked in discovering new things . I can warmly recommend that young students in the US consider such opportunities by studying in Freiburg as I did.

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