Inclusivity in Our Language Curriculum

The German speaking world is a multicultural space that contains the lived shared experience by people of diverse backgrounds. We continue to strive toward an inclusive representation of this diversity in our language curriculum.

"Parliament must represent the entire breadth of society." 

This is the wording for the mandate of the German government, which reflects a continuous effort toward a fair and inclusive representation of people from diverse segments in society. 

We believe that a similar mandate is given to us when it comes to our German language curriculum. The German speaking world is a multicultural space that is made up of the lived shared experience by people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, skin colors, gender identification, sexual identities and preferences, and by individuals with a varied range in physical and mental ability, age, economic means, and political status.

As language teaching is moving away from presenting German language(s) and culture(s) as a monolithic block that foregrounds the experience of a very small and exclusively White, heteronormative, economically independent middle-class segment of society and shifts towards the inclusion of diverse perspectives, we continue to evaluate what voices have, for too long, been silenced in the language classroom.

This doesn't stop at teaching words like "wheel chair" alongside the word for "chair," or practicing divers gender pronouns alongside binary gender structures, or talking about articles of clothing and clothing choice as an expression of gender identity, or exploring Nazi Germany from the perspective of an Afro-German childhood: 

There is always more room in our teaching units for making more voices heard.

We also acknowledge that our inclusive approach does not so much represent an insertion of "special interest topics" into our curriculum, but that the contact with diverse voices and experiences inside the classroom reflect the shared life experience of our teachers, staff and students outside the classroom.

To represent a greater breadth of diverse groups and cultures from all walks of lifes in our language sequence is thus in and by itself of special interest to the Department of German Studies.

Nick Ostrau, German Language Program Director