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Since 2012, the international summer university has been held annually at different locations in the German-Danish border region and is organized jointly by Dr. Martin Göllnitz (Marburg), Prof. Dr. Thomas Wegener Friis (Odense), Dr. Mogens Rostgaard Nissen (Flensburg), Dr. Caroline E. Weber (Sønderborg) and Prof. Dr. Nils Abraham (Cologne) as well as changing partners. As a joint cooperation event of several German and Danish universities and cultural institutions, the Summer University is aimed at students from a wide range of disciplines. Here you can find an overview of past summer universities.

Summer semester 2023: Borders as spaces of security and insecurity
Venue: Bildungsstätte Knivsberg, August 6-12, 2023
Content: A Europe without borders – this dream is over for the time being. A number of European Union member states closed their borders in March 2020 due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, thus reviving the powerful figure of thought of the “primacy of foreign policy”. This notion of a clear distinction between external and internal security and resulting border demarcations is in many cases the product of new – often global – perceptions of security and insecurity. It reflects a renewed high phase of European nation-state and territorial statehood, as we have observed since the refugee crisis in 2015 and the simultaneous rise of nationalist parties. However, security dynamics have always been territorialization dynamics and were subject to the logic of statebuilding, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. The German-Danish border region, which was marked by numerous conflicts from the mid-19th century onward and which shaped the binational relationship of Germany and Denmark until the second half of the 20th century, represents an example of this development. It is all the more surprising, therefore, that the obvious interrelation between spatiality and security with regard to the German-Danish border region has so far been reflected upon only to a limited extent. After all, stable and mutually recognized borders are only conditionally dividing lines; rather, they often develop into reference points for exchange and interaction. This permeability of borders under the view of security aspects will be the topic of the Summer University 2023.

Summer semester 2022: Minorities in the German-Danish border region
Venue: Bildungsstätte Knivsberg, August 7-13, 2022
Content: The German-Danish border region is something special. So special that the German and Danish minorities on both sides of the border jointly decided to make it a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage site. Well, the application was later rejected, but that does not change the uniqueness of a part of the country that can offer a rich cultural diversity with three recognised minorities. Throughout Europe, the German-Danish minority model is regarded as a model for peaceful coexistence between majority and minority. But it was not always so peaceful. Especially the period from 1933 to 1945 caused a deep rift between the individual ethnic groups in the border region. Using a regional case study, the students of the Summer University will shed light on different narratives, visit places of remembrance in the German-Danish border region and discuss the relevance of minorities for our current society. In this context, the students develop podcasts in which they show individual approaches to the history, culture or politics of multi-ethnic societies.

Summer semester 2021: 101 Years of German-Danish Friendship? (Staging of) Remembrance in a Border Region
Venue: Løgumkloster Højskole, August 8-14, 2021
Content: 2020 was the centenary for the Schleswig plebiscite and the Danish-German border revision. Both national and regional it was politically staged as “a year of commemoration”. At an early stage, it became apparent that the two states had very different narratives, as did the minorities in the borderlands. Everybody had “their 1920”. However, before 2020 got really started the Covid-19 pandemic ended the numerous cultural events. Some of the planned celebrations were postponed to 2021 which raises the question, what it means to commemorate after 100 plus one year. The Summer school sheds light on the different narratives, visit regional memorials, and discuss the relevance of staged remembrance for today’s society. The participants will work podcasts to understand and communicate both the specific histories and their uses. Here they will get the chance to work with individual perspectives on history, culture, and politics in a multiethnic society.

Summer semester 2020: Contested Borders 1920-2020
Venue: Jaruplund Højskole, August 16-22, 2020
Content: Europe without borders – this vision seems to have passed away. In March 2020, several EU member states closed their borders due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Schengen Agreement has been under pressure for the past few years not least because of the European migrant crisis in 2015. However, border regions have traditionally been contested political and territorial spaces, certainly throughout the 19th and 20th centuries as part of state building processes. The Danish-German border saw numerous conflicts for about a century up until the mid-20th century. Since this time co-existence in this region improved alongside bilateral relations. In 2020 the Danish-German minority model has even been nominated by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage. This summer university takes place in the heart of the Danish-German borderlands, in a highly symbolic place, the Folk High School of the Danish Minority in Germany. Thus, the Danish-German relationship forms the outset for reflections on other European border issues. 2020 is the centenary of the referendum that established the current border, and the summer university approaches the Danish-German border from historical, cultural and didactic perspectives. We ask how conflicts in the region shaped historical and present national identity. How were these conflicts reconciliated? And how did coexistence between national majorities and minorities evolve to the current point where they are often portrayed as a European model?

Summer semester 2019: Minorities – Problem or Diversity?
Venue: Jaruplund Højskole, August 19-25, 2019
Content: Due to the new border of 1920 between Denmark and Germany national minorities emerged in both countries. Tolerance and the rules of law were put to the test by this challenge. In 20th Century Europe, minorities were often treated as separatists and mistrusted by the national majorities. In the relationship between Germans and Danes, this was also the case at various times. However, after the second world war, the relations in the border region as well as between Denmark and Germany improved mainly due to the foundation of a Democratic German state and of NATO. Nonetheless, almost one century was needed to establish a coexistence between Germans, Danes, and Frisians which today is treated as a European model. Since 2020 is the German-Danish Cultural year of Friendship, the summer school already 2019 focus on the genesis of the minorities in the Danish-German border region. Which conflicts occurred throughout history and which of these still exist? How do the minorities enrich cultural life in the region? And how do minorities relate to political issues? The summer school takes place in the border region and the special case of Danish-German relations serves as the platform for fundamental discussion concerning minorities in Europe.

Summer semester 2018: War and revolution: The German-Danish border region after the First World War
Venue: Europäische Akademie Schleswig-Holstein, August 18-24, 2018
Content: In 1918, the First World War ended and the borders of Europe were redrawn. Through the Paris Peace treaty steps were taken also to chance the of the German-Danish border. In the spring 1920, after a referendum its current course was decided. Thus in 2020, Denmark celebrate the anniversary of the so called “reunification” as a product of 1918. In Germany, the year is primary remembered by the mutiny in Kiel which together with the defeat in the war caused the German empire to fall. At the Summer University, we deal with the historical development since 1920 concerning society, politics, and culture. We ask how the two world war, the border struggle, sabotage but also cultural revolutions shaped the life in the border region. The history of the German-Danish border region is consequently interpreted into a European and global frame. Thus Sønderjylland/ Schleswig serves as a case for the development in a border region.

Summer semester 2017: German-Danish border region – from conflict to European model
Venue: Tagungszentrum Christianslyst, August 12-18, 2017
Content: 150 years ago Prussia annexed former Danish lands Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg – a region which has always been geopolitically disputed. Its fate was closely connected to the tides of European national power politics and is until today a reflection of German- Danish relations. Traditionally, the population of the region repeatedly had to question their identity: Were they from Schleswig, Holstein, Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia, or from Imperial Germany? Did they consider themselves Danish or German? These questions were consistent within the history of these lands and were an indicator of the relationship between the two neighbouring nations. The summer university aims to discuss the alternating aspects of history in the German-Danish border region and its development from a region of conflict within national European politics to a model region in Europe. Although, the region seems small geographically, it exemplifies the main trends of European history. And it has played a key role as model in the process of peaceful solution to minority issues. These revolve of these challenges will be a focus of the one week seminar.

Summer semester 2016: Past and Present in the German-Danish Relations
Venue: Tagungszentrum Christianslyst, August 13-19, 2016
Content: In 2015 and 2016, both Denmark and Germany have made headlines in Europe. However, in international politics the two countries have often chosen different paths. Still, they remain close partners in NATO and the EU. But how did this situation come about? The Summer School 2016 deals with the back ground and the current challenges for the neighboring states in Northern Europe. The course starts in 1945 at the “hour zero” of the relations. In the new post war order, old hostilities were set aside and were gradually replaced by thrust. Even though the long lasting conflict concerning the border in Schleswig and the minorities issues were solved. Thus, the national minorities had to define their new role in a peaceful European order. After the end of the Cold War, the two states also had to define new roles for themselves in a global and European context. 

Summer semester 2015: The German-Danish Relations: From Enemies to Partners
Venue: Tagungszentrum Christianslyst, August 16-22, 2015
Content: In the 19th century, the balance of power changed in the Western Baltic Sea area. Denmark relegated from the first league among the European powers and Germany, under Prussian leadership, rose to be a great power. The Baltic Sea became a German sphere of influence, whereas Denmark forthwith was in the shadow of its larger neighbor to the south. The Second World War marked an alltime low point in the history of the German-Danish relations. From 1940 to 1945 Denmark was occupied by the Nazi-regime. Although by European comparison, Denmark suffered relative few casualties, the “five damned years” produced a widespread anti German feeling. Therefore, the development after the war was quite astonishing. Within the frame of the new power structures, the relations between Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany grew closely. With the frame work of NATO and the European cooperation, thrust got strengthened between the two countries. An important mile stone were the initiatives to improve the cultural life of the minorities in the Border region.