At my son’s elementary school “promotion” ceremony, children were sent off with the idea of having grown the roots and the wings for further educational depth and breadth. The sentiment seems appropriate for describing the 2017-2018 academic year in Dutch and Flemish Studies (DFS). 

Enrollment soared for another year, from 140 student registrations in the preceding year to 161 this year with the Anne Frank course growing from 54 to 74 students and another 30 students waitlisted. Due to program demand, we added Graduate Student Instructor Jessica McCauley. A second graduate student, Katherine Campbell, was hired to develop a series of culture modules on art history and Belgium for use in the language courses. Two students started a Dutch Club for language practice and cultural sharing. The club continues to meet weekly over the summer. Also this summer, Jessica McCauley is working as an intern to develop resources for language learning, including tools to help students maintain and develop their language skills in our long summer breaks.

The strong root system of the program, past and present, is recounted in collaboration with previous director Ton Broos, in a publication titled Dutch Is Beautiful: The story of Dutch and Flemish Studies at the University of Michigan.

Dutch program directors at Flanders House

DFS continues its flight forward by maintaining and developing strong ties beyond its own office walls to the larger world of Dutch studies and social justice. In the fall, we discussed our model of enrollment and retention success at Columbia University at the annual instructor weekend of the American Association for Netherlandic Studies. The weekend included a warm welcome of all present Dutch program directors by Flanders House, the representation of the government of Flanders in the U.S.

At the Interdisciplinary Conference on Netherlandic Studies at Indiana University this summer, DFS met with the Dutch Language Union to draw up initial plans for a translation project of Reggie Baay’s 2015 Daar Werd Wat Gruwelijks Verricht (“Something gruesome was done there”), the first comprehensive text on Dutch slavery in Indonesia. The translation will reaffirm the program’s long commitment to teaching Dutch colonialism, providing an English-language source for teaching the topic through a contemporary and inclusive lens.

DFS is honored to be a faculty forum member at this year’s Camp Michigania, partnering with Associate General Counsel Jack Bernard. We also continue our shared mission of diversity, community, and social justice, in our affiliation with the Michigan Community Scholars Program, planning to develop further programming, film screenings, and lectures in the coming year.