Spending the summer in Germany might create visions of beer gardens and hiking for some, but for College of Charleston History Professor Richard Bodek, it means a highly-regarded opportunity to think and meet with colleagues and live life as a Berliner.  From June 10–19, 2013, Bodek will attend a Fulbright Scholar Program German Studies Seminar in Berlin with the goal of examining many issues relating to city’s contemporary challenges in light of history.

According to the Fulbright Scholar Program, “For U.S. scholars, the engagement in substantive dialogue with political, academic, scientific, journalistic and cultural leaders in Germany can strengthen research and teaching.” As Bodek sees it, “if historians can do one thing, it is put the present into perspective. “I think,” during the seminar, “I will be able to deepen a discussion of contemporary Berlin by referring to the city it once was, and by keeping in mind how it became what it is now.”

Present at the career-enriching colloquium will be those who are united by love for what Bodek describes as “one of the Twentieth Century’s most dynamic, tragic, horrifying, and ultimately, representative cities.

In Bodek’s eyes, “Berlin was the stage for significant historic acts which have shaped the world.” Bodek observes, “The history of the Weimar Republic, much of which took place in Berlin, is the story of a political process that ground to a halt because of the inability of people of good will to compromise and see beyond their narrow self-interest to the interest of the people as a whole. It is an object lesson for politicians today who think that ‘compromise’ is a dirty word.”

Bodek, who is developing a new course for the College’s Department of History and the Urban Studies Program, intends to “make the class more dynamic and up to date through my experience of the city.” The professor’s primary interests are German labor history, the history of Berlin, and the history of the Weimar Republic. He said he “is at work on a translation of a classic book about Berlin, written in the city during the 1920s and just being back, smelling the air, walking the streets, looking at the buildings, and hearing the Berlin accent and dialect should help my work.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The Fulbright Program has provided almost 310,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.