Global Opportunities

GER2013 : Nature and Ecology in German Culture (Inactive)

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module looks at the various historical tributaries to contemporary green culture in the German-speaking world. It engages with perennial traditions such as Romanticism, the concern with Heimat and outdoor culture as well as more recent political and social movements such as nature preservation, anti-nuclear power protests and the large-scale energy transition. By engaging with aesthetic, scientific and political documents we seek to deliver a “thick description” of the contribution German-language cultures have made to our reflections on the relation between humans and their natural environments under the condition of western modernity. Through close readings, discussion platforms and writing exercises students will sharpen their awareness for the relevance of these traditions for understanding and coping with the challenges of the current global ecological crisis and the human condition in the Anthropocene.

Outline Of Syllabus

- Framing the discussion: Erich Fromm: "To Have or To Be"
- Discussion platforms:
- Self-restraint or technological solutions?
- Nuclear power, renewable energy and energy transition
- Environmental issues as an ethical challenge
- The post-war environmental movement
- The Green party
- Gudrun Pausewang, "Die Wolke" (short novel)
- Werner Herzog, "Grizzly Man" (film)
- Proto-ecological thinkers (A. von Humboldt, Goethe)
- The science of ecology (Haeckel, von Uexküll, Markl)
- Romanticism: painting, poetry
- Alternative lifestyle movements around 1900
- Hermann Hesse, "Siddhartha" (novella)
- The concept of ‘Heimat’
- Nature in 20th-century German art and photography
- Environmental philosophy (Jonas, Hösle, Welzer)
- Thomas Riedelsheimer, "Rivers and Tides" (film)
- The Anthropocene Project (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:003 out of 10 lectures synchronous online (if the circumstances mandate it, more)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:003 out of 10 seminars synchronous online (if the circumstances mandate it, more)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1167:00167:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module is designed to help students to further develop the skills they have acquired in their introductory courses and hone their abilities to apply them to new, intellectually stimulating topics. The mixture of lectures and seminars will provide the opportunity for students to (1) acquire research-led in-depth knowledge of this field of study and its wider significance, and (2) to use the acquired knowledge as a basis for classroom discussions of the key sources and the issues raised in the scholarship. The course is designed to encourage students to apply the critical abilities and contextual knowledge they acquired to the specific case studies. Lectures will provide students with an introduction to the main issues covered by the module. Seminars will be used for student-active discussions, thus enabling students to develop their interpersonal skills and to practise their ability to articulate ideas.

Synchronous online teaching will be used to supplement the ‘present in person’ teaching experience and allow students to deepen their acquired knowledge and skills in structured guided work on specific materials on the syllabus. The blended learning mode of teaching showed to be very effective as it allowed students to reflect in their own time.

This online component will also be used to explore new collaborative learning formats among small groups of students (2-3 individuals). Part of this format will be the preparation of a non-assessed oral presentation on a subject of their choice relating to the issues explored in the module. This will develop students’ oral presentation skills and, additionally, enable them to practise constructing coherent and reasoned arguments. (Depending on the situation, these presentations will be dispersed across the semester under ‘present in person’ circumstances or bundled as an online conference if the circumstances mandate it.)

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A5024-hour take home paper in English
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M50A 2,000 word essay to be written in German and submitted at the end of semester 2.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MA practice essay, set in week 4, to be submitted in week 6. Length: 750-1,000 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessed essay will allow students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the module’s main topics, and to produce a reasoned and coherent argument in writing. The essay will be based on individual study and encourages students to carry out independent critical research. In addition, the essay will enable students to show evidence of the following skills: bibliographical work, word-processing, footnoting and referencing.
The take-home exam will allow students to demonstrate a comprehensive and contextually embedded understanding of the knowledge acquired throughout the semester, an ability to structure and interconnect information to produce coherent arguments in writing, and versatility in applying it to specific new contexts.

Reading Lists