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Why study German at Clemson University?

Geopolitics. As the largest member state of the European Union, Germany is a key player not just in European affairs, but also in transatlantic relations. Its position is further strengthened by an export-driven economy that boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the EU. Given Germany’s crucial contributions over the past decades to European unity and stability, its stature as a global security actor and its role in the management of other challenges that our global community is facing, can only increase in the future. 

Economy & Business. The German economy consistently ranks among the top four in the world. Much of this is due to its vigorous exports, especially when it comes to cars, machinery, chemical products, and household goods. In practical terms, Germany’s economic strength equals business opportunities. Over 2,000 American companies conduct business in the German-speaking countries. Conversely, German companies like BMW, Dräxlmaier, Daimler, Siemens, and Bosch are looking to consolidate their presence on the American market. Right now there are over 90 German businesses in the Upstate of South Carolina alone, and foreign companies are estimated to have invested $29 billion in the Southeast since 1990. These numbers are poised to grow further in the years to come.

Research. German is the second most commonly used language for scholarly publications worldwide. Furthermore, German universities have an international reputation for the quality of their research and are very popular with American students studying abroad. And on the topic of study-abroad: Germany offers generous financial support each year for many international exchanges through such agencies as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX). Additional opportunities to conduct research in Germany are provided by the Fulbright Association.

Mastering Innovation. Germany’s tradition of innovation cuts across ages and disciplines. From Gutenberg’s printing press to Hertz’s discovery of electromagnetic waves, from Ehrlich’s development of chemotherapy to Einstein’s theory of relativity, Germans have constantly been on the frontline of new ideas and technologies. This is still the case today, when Germany has emerged as one of the top three nations in the development of high-tech products, and in wind and solar power production. It is also at the forefront of architectural and industrial design, not to mention second in the world in automobile production.

Arts & Humanities. Germans’ commitment to innovation is also apparent in art, cinema, literature, music, philosophy, and religion. Goethe, Schiller, Kafka, Mann, and Brecht all came from a German background and left a deep intellectual mark on world culture. The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to German-speaking authors thirteen times—most recently in 2009 to novelist and essayist Herta Müller. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Schubert, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, and Schoenberg spoke and wrote German, as did Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger.

Number of Speakers. More people claim German as their mother tongue than any other language in the European Union. German is also the third most popular modern language worldwide. In the US, where 46 million Americans can trace their roots to Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, many students learn German as a way to reconnect with their heritage. But even those who do it for other reasons can take heart in knowing that native speakers of English are at an advantage when learning German. Many words look and sound similar in the two languages, and this is because English and German are close relatives, having derived from a common ancestor.

The list could easily go on, but one fact remains: knowledge of GERMAN opens the door to a wide variety of careers and intellectual pursuits. Which one will you choose?

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