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Multilingual paedagogy in action as CIVIS course in Brussels explores refugees, migrants and exiles through German

1 July 2022
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The CIVIS course Refugees, Migrants, and Exiles in German and Comparative Literature brought together 38 students and 11 professors for a series of online lectures from February to May 2022, after which 29 students and 8 professors gathered in Brussels for a 4-day workshop in multilingual German. 

The course was organised into 10 online lectures and a face-to-face workshop in Brussels, at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), which took place from 16 to 19 May 2022. Students had the opportunity to explore how refugees, migrants and exiles have been treated in German and Comparative Literature today and in the past. The course was also an opportunity to test flexible multilingual communication with German as the main language - a first for the CIVIS Alliance! 

A transdisciplinary & collaborative programme

The 4-day workshop mixed various activities:

  • Study tours to the Kazerne Dossin (transit camp in Belgium for transport to Auschwitz) and Molenbeek (an area of Brussels with the highest number of immigrants)
  • A lecture by Austrian writer Elena Messner
  • A keynote lecture and a master class by internationally renowned scholar Elke Sturm-Trigonakis
  • A guest lecture by Theresa Wagner (PhD candidate at Aix-Marseille Université)
  • A presentation of an ERASMUS Mundus project dealing with migration

To wrap up these few intense days, students presented very interesting group projects on various topics (NGOs, museums, memorial sites, interviews with witnesses to history etc.) Professors organing the course were very impressed by the students' great interest, the lively discussions at the end of each online lecture and during the workshop, and the high quality of their project presentations which were fascinating and diverse. 

A course unlike any other

Gina has just finished the first year of a Master’s degree in Germanic Literature and Linguistics at the Université libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium. Discover her impressions of her experience of a CIVIS course!

"For the past four months, I have been taking a CIVIS course entitled: “Refugees, Migrants, and Exiles in German and Comparative Literature”. After four years of university, I can now say that this course is very different from all the others I have taken, partly because it involves students from different European universities, but also because it incorporates a creative group project and deals with a crucial current topic. It has allowed me to meet people from all walks of life and to learn more about exile in Europe, thanks to the testimonies of other students and the various lectures that have provided historical context and a theoretical framework for the subject. In addition to the weekly classes, we were asked to work on projects in groups. The project in which I participated dealt with migration through poetry. The professor who guided us decided to have us write about migration using our experience, imagination and stories we had heard. It has allowed me to explore a whole new side of my creativity while learning how to play with sounds, words and languages. The following is a “sound” poem, a “Lautgedicht” I have written. I leave it to your imagination!"