Humboldt Meets Dewey

In the website section on The Leipzig Model, we define briefly how American Studies Leipzig embraces both “The Humboldtian Ideal” and “Dewey Pragmatism” to build a unique liberal arts education program.

This mission is embedded in each module that we offer, and formally anchored into both the BA and MA Degree Programs with American Studies' four Professional Skills Modules (Schlüsselqualifikationsmodule): iTASK, Constructing America, iCANN, and iDEWEY.

For the BA, the introductory Professional Skills Module (PSM) is iTASK. This module at the beginning of your studies is meant to introduce you to the multiple skills you will need to thrive at university and beyond. It integrates technical, academic, social, and career skills into one module during the course of which the student creates a portfolio for a personal “university and professional career” (and which is presented to fellow students). The module allows students to engage their studies confidently by understanding the purpose and nature of university education, and how it can empower personal goals. Thus the PSM acronym stands for individual-integrated-interdisciplinary-international technical, academic, social, and c(k)areer skills, or iTASK. It is meant to prepare you for the task ahead.

The signature PSM for the BA is “Constructing America” that students can take toward the end of their studies. In this module, students employ their full “Humboldtian” skills for creating new knowledge and their “Dewey” skills for the pragmatic acquisition and application of skills by organizing an Undergraduate Humanities Symposium with the theme of “Constructing America,” or how different disciplines, and different countries, go about trying to understand the richness, complexity, and controversies of American life, of what “America” is all about.

For the MA Program, we have two PSMs integrated into the course of study: iCANN and iDEWEY. Students begin with iCAN, which stands for individual international interdisciplinary integrated Career and Academic Knowledge and Networking. It is meant to prepare masters-level students for using their advanced education for a wide range of possible career paths. The best known part of iCAN is the graduate journal aspeers, a scholarly publication edited by MA students. The iDEWEY PSM acts as a “capstone” exercise, where students organize an International Graduate Symposium to present their scholarship, and do so in a forum with fellow students from around the campus, the country, and internationally. Thus students graduate from the program having already performed an exercise in “applied academics”, exactly the sort of skills and knowledge that employers in all sectors are seeking.