BUKA Alumni Meeting in Washington DC, October 25 – 27 2013
The first triennial meeting of the US German Chancellor Fellows (“BUKAs”) was held in Washington, DC on October 25-27, 2013. The meeting attracted a record number of alumni, including participants from the inaugural “class,” recently selected fellows, and for the first time, fellows from China and Russia. The meeting, which was organized by a Steering Committee of US alumni and American Friends, showcased the fellows’ diverse talents and interests in a program featuring two moderated panel discussions, a site visit, a festive dinner with local Humboldtians, and an Art Salon.
The steering committee selected “technology transformation” as the central theme of the meeting, which also served as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Over 70 BUKA alumni and their families traveled across the country and world to reunite with their former classmates, partake in the substantive program, and learn about BUKA program developments as well as new opportunities for alumni engagement.
Special guests Dr. Enno Aufderheide, Secretary General of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and Dr. Damian Grasmueck, the Program Director of Social Sciences from the Humboldt Foundation’s selection department, opened the meeting and shared news of the program’s expansion to India and Brazil. Representatives of the Russian, Chinese, and US alumni organizations discussed program developments in their respective countries and ideas for strengthening the global BUKA network.
The program continued with two alumni panels on “technology transformation,” the first examining technology’s impact on professional occupations and the workplace and the second, technology’s impact on higher education. Dr. Lee Ann Banaszak of Pennsylvania State University (BUKA, 1990-1991) introduced the panels and thanked fellow alumni steering committee members who helped to plan the meeting.
American Friends President Dr. Cathleen Fisher moderated the first panel on technology’s impact and on professional occupations and the workplace, finding several common challenges across the diverse fields represented. Dr. Dominic Boyer, Rice University (BUKA, 1996-1997), Dr. Richard Gunderman, M.D., Indiana University (BUKA, 1992-1993), and Peggy Kuo, J.D., New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (BUKA, 1993-1994) spoke about how enhanced access, collection, and sharing of information is transforming the practices, standards, and foci of traditional professions of law, medicine and journalism. Dr. Tatiana Tropina of the Max-Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Russian BUKA, 2009-2010) and Mr. Shi Zhang of BMW China Automotive Trading Ltd (Chinese BUKA, 2007-2008) talked about new challenges and opportunities in business and national security.
Dr. Banaszak moderated the second panel on technology’s impact on higher education, examining technology’s impact on research processes, professorial engagement with students, and residential instruction. Each alumni panelist was asked where they believed higher education was heading, and which technological innovation they saw as the most significant in this transformation. Dr. Gayle Christensen of the University of Pennsylvania (BUKA, 2004-2005) spoke about her research on the efficacy of massive open online courses or “MOOC”s. Dr. Ekaterina Khodzhaeva of the European University at St. Petersburg (Russian BUKA, 2009- 2010) and Mr. Fan Rong, Lecturer, German, East China Normal University, Shanghai (Chinese BUKA, 2007-2008) conveyed that technology, where available, had enhanced their classroom experience. Dr. Olga Gulina of the Institute on Migration Policy (Russian BUKA, 2006-2007) and Dr. Dennis Shirley of Boston College and The Journal of Educational Change (BUKA, 1990-1991) shared more critical views of technology, citing the potential for increased distraction and/or plagiarism in the classroom.
To demonstrate technological transformation in practice, American Friends Board member Dr. Dale Medearis (BUKA, 1994-1995) and special guest Uwe Brandes of Georgetown University’s Urban and Regional Planning Program led a site tour of “gray” and “green” water infrastructure in Washington, DC.
The full-day program ended with a celebratory banquet marking the 60th anniversary of the Humboldt Foundation and featuring the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United States, Dr. Peter Ammon, as the keynote speaker. Special guests at the banquet dinner included newly-appointed BUKA Program Ambassadors, Ambassador J.D. Bindenagel and Dr. Jackson Janes of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies; local Humboldtians; and other members of the German-American community.
As the dinner drew to a close, guests were invited to view the visual and performance art of nine BUKA Alumni. The first-ever alumni Art Salon featured presentations ranging from typographic prints and illustrations by Jason Mannix (BUKA, 2009-2010) to the porcelain works of Jessica Knapp (BUKA, 2006-2007) and Anne Drew Potter (BUKA, 2011-2012), and from the cinematic presentations of Talaya Delaney (BUKA, 2005-2006), Ivan Raykoff (BUKA, 1999-2000), and Clea T. Waite (BUKA, 1993-1994) to the documentation of public art works by Carly Schmitt (BUKA, 2008-2009). The audience enjoyed performances by Damon Lee (BUKA, 2002-2003) on the saxophone and digitized version of the stringed Tanpura from India, and by Molly Shaiken in a dance performance directed by Abi Basch (BUKA, 2006-2007).