German studies centre celebrates post-wall unity


Above: From left, Mark Webber, co-director, CCGES; Albert Maringer, president & CEO, Siemens Canada and Chair of the CCGES advisory committee; Marie Bernard-Meunier, Canada’s immediate past ambassador to Germany; Lorna R. Marsden, president and vice-chancellor, York University; and Klaus Rupprecht, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies (CCGES) and the York University Foundation hosted a “friend-raising” evening to mark 15 years of post-Berlin Wall German unity. The centre’s motto – Bridging Continents and Connecting People – came to life as faculty, staff, students, the CCGES advisory committee and members of the Canadian-German business community gathered to celebrate the centre’s success and its growing prominence in Canada and abroad.

“We are proud to be educating the next generation of German studies experts in Canada,” said CCGES co-director Mark Webber in his welcoming remarks at the Osgoode Professional Development Centre in downtown Toronto on Nov. 22. “Our students have the knowledge and the interdisciplinary, linguistic and cultural expertise to thrive on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Right: Peter Kircher (far right) and Helen Ching Kircher (second right) of Downtown Fine Cars with CCGES students Nicole Andrée (left), international exchange student from the Free University of Berlin, and Christoph Straub, a student in York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies

Housed at York University and the Université de Montréal, the CCGES is Canada’s only centre of German and European studies. With a mandate to foster awareness about Germany and Europe within Canada, the centre engages in teaching, research and outreach activities. “The CCGES also plays a major role in fostering academic mobility between Canada and Germany,” Webber added.

Albert Maringer , president & CEO of Siemens Canada and Chair of the CCGES advisory committee, encouraged community support in order to help CCGES continue to realize its full potential. “Many senior people in industry and government believe strongly in the Centre and are devoting significant time and effort on its behalf,” he said. “It has become a hub of activity, liaison and outreach across Canada and we look forward to helping it continue to grow and flourish.”

The evening’s guest of honour and keynote speaker was Marie Bernard-Meunier, Canada’s immediate past ambassador to Germany, whom Webber introduced as a “strong supporter of the work of Canadian universities, and the exchange of ideas, and people services between Canada and Germany.” Bernard-Meunier presented an analysis of the successes and remaining challenges of German unification from a Canadian perspective and emphasized the importance of Canadian-German bilateral relations. She also expressed her enthusiasm for the many accomplishments of CCGES.

“One of the things I admire most about Germany is its investment in culture and international academic exchanges,” she said, “which translates into a long-term investment in people. Through this centre, York is making this same type of worthy investment.”

Bernard-Meunier also recalled her own experience as a graduate student, surrounded by few people who shared her interest in German studies. “I am so envious of these students,” she said with a laugh, “who can come together through this centre to discuss German language, politics and culture with others who share their passion. It really is wonderful.”

“The centre plays a key role at York, contributing to academic excellence and creating a critical mass of experts on German and European issues,” said Lorna Marsden, York’s president and vice-chancellor. “We are very proud that the centre’s faculty and students tackle real-world problems of local, national and international significance.”

Through CCGES, students who are enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program in such varied fields as political science, international business, economics, education, environmental studies, film and video, humanities, law, and social and political thought can all hone their expertise in German and European studies through the graduate diploma program.

Steve Caldow (IMBA ’01), a CCGES graduate and member of the advisory committee who attended the event, studied international business at York’s Schulich School of Business while simultaneously pursuing the CCGES Graduate Diploma.

Through the program Caldow studied and worked in Germany, and participated in an internship opportunity at Miele Limited, a German-based manufacturer. He now works for the company’s Canadian subsidiary full time as a product manager. “In my role at Miele I determine what products are right for the Canadian marketplace and work with our German colleagues to produce them,” he said. “The knowledge of both North America and Germany that I acquired through my involvement with the centre are vital to my daily work.”

Stan Shapson, vice-president research and innovation at York, spoke on how the work of the CCGES ties in to York’s overall research mandate.

“The philosophy of research at York is one that is interdisciplinary, breaks down barriers and produces collaborative results of both theoretical and practical importance,” he said. “CCGES, with its exceptional group of researchers and students, is a prime example of cross-unit, cross-country, cutting-edge collaboration.”

Also in attendance at the event was Klaus Rupprecht, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany and friend of York and CCGES.

This article was submitted to YFile by Allison Berg, communications officer with the York University Foundation.