IES Commemorates 30 Years with Virtual Celebration

by Kim Pape

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 marked the date of the virtual program put on by the Institute of European Studies to celebrate thirty years as a presence on UC Berkeley’s campus. Although the in-person festivities have been postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual gathering boasted the attendance of over one hundred speakers, students, faculty, and alumni. 

In his introductory remarks, IES Director Jeroen Dewulf shared the Institute’s roots as one of three Centers of German and European Studies (CGES) established by the German government in the United States in 1990. IES as we know it today was formed later by bringing together CGES and other European cultural and language programs on campus. 

Administrative director Gia White served as MC, setting the tone for the festivities with a special video message by UC Berkeley’s own Chancellor, Carol T. Christ. The Chancellor recalled her attendance at German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s visit to the Berkeley campus, when CGES was launched, and congratulated IES on becoming the vibrant center of collaborative study and outreach it is now.

Panel conversations addressed the past, present, and future of IES. In the first panel, former IES Associate Director Beverly Crawford shared memories of the Institute’s early days with graduate alumnus John Leslie, founding director Richard Buxbaum, and senior fellow David Large. The panel fondly recalled the late Professor Gerald D. Feldman, a dedicated mentor and prolific scholar who served as director of IES from 1994 to 2006.

IES Program manager Julia Nelsen continued the discussion with three students who shared their appreciation for IES. Berkeley senior Davit Gasparyan credited his time as an undergraduate research apprentice as a deeply enriching experience, while alumna Annika Van Galder (Class of 2018) noted that the lectures she attended at IES “sparked my curiosity like nothing else at Berkeley” and led her to pursue a Masters in European Studies at Georgetown. PhD candidate in Architecture Alberto Sanchez Sanchez thanked the Institute for supporting his research and allowing him to make productive connections with students and professors working on European issues.

A third panel, led by IES Associate Director Akasemi Newsome, detailed the research conducted by senior fellows Marianne Riddervold and Carla Shapreau. In a video greeting, Berkeley Law professor Katerina Linos also introduced her recent IES-supported research project on refugees in Europe.  

The ceremonies came to a close with a conversation on IES partnerships, featuring Simone Lässig (Director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.), Elsa Henriques (Director of the Luso-American Development Foundation), and German Consul General Hans Ulrich Suedbeck. As the German Consul noted, “IES is more important now than ever” to help us cope with global challenges and foster renewed international cooperation and democracy, by ensuring that the next generation of leaders learns about Europe and transatlantic relations.

The celebration was rounded out with a round of IES trivia, led by Center for Portuguese Studies coordinator Duarte Pinheiro, and a festive thank-you message from our current undergraduate research apprentices. Finally, Berkeley MFA student and artist Biz Rasam unveiled the live illustration piece that he created especially for this occasion to commemorate the Institute’s 30th anniversary: a brilliantly graphic explosion of color. 

Throughout the celebration, the engagement of over a hundred students, speakers, and guests alike was clear from the lively discussion in the virtual chat, and the cheerful atmosphere was by no means dampened by the lack of face-to-face interaction. We hope to see everyone back in 2021 for the in-person celebration!