European Inst. hosts first event

by Ritika Nandkeolyar | 10/25/00 5:00am

Dartmouth's new Institute for European Studies celebrates its inauguration with a two-conference series that asks "Is a European Culture Possible?" beginning today.

This afternoon's program begins with an introductory address by institute Director and French professor Lawrence Kritzman at 3:30 p.m.

Lectures planned for the day include a presentation on the "Dark Side of European Culture" by Harvard European Center Director and History Professor Charles Maier and "Western Feminist Political Theory in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union: Conflicts and Contrasts," by City University of New York Philosophy Professor Nanette Funk.

The second session on the European culture will take place November 15.

"When people think of Europe, they think of literature and history," Kritzman said. However, this institute will showcase both science and culture, bringing together perspectives from natural science, social science, cultural science and the professional schools.

According to Kritzman, each year the center will examine a specific topic -- the current year's theme is the possibility of European culture, while the 2001-02 focus is Architecture, Urbanism and the European City.

The institute is part of consortium of institutes of European studies which includes a center at Oxford University and one in Paris.

However, the programming Kritzman has planned for the Institute goes beyond the traditional activities which occur at the majority of these institutions.

Half a dozen American correspondents for major European newspapers will be the Institute's guests this Winter term. And in Spring term, food historians and chefs, including famed French master Jacques Pepin, will discuss food, anthropology and biotechnology in European cultures and traditions.

"At a place like Harvard or Cornell someone would be talking about administrative aspects of European Union commission polices," Kritzman said. "We will talk about how these interact with everyday life and their impacts on various cooking traditions."

The chefs will also prepare food for participants in institute programs.

Kritzman said he also hopes to have fashion designers involved in later sessions. Fashion is a major industry in Europe and with a Frenchman running Gucci, and an Englishman running Givenchy how does this affect European culture, he asked.

"Europe is a very interesting place for humanists and social scientists," Dean of the Faculty Ed Berger said.

"The dissolution of the Soviet Union -- the curtain went up and the Berlin wall came down -- has enabled the continent to move beyond the checkerboard mentality of Cold War politics and into the world of globalization."

The growing role of the European Union with the introduction of the Euro and the EU court deserve the attention of academics as well, Berger said.

According to both Kritzman and Berger, one of the main missions of the new institute is to involve students. The institute will have funds available for student fellowships, internships and research projects.

The institute will also have a student advisory committee, Kritzman said.

"I also see this as something which could develop President Wright's Initiative," he said. "It is another home, another space for students and faculty to interact."

Berger said the founding of the Institute was long overdue.

The Dickey Center for International Understanding and the Rockefeller Center for the Social Sciences provide support for social science faculty.

While Fairchild Science Center and the Dana Biomedical Center are resources for science professor. But, humanists have been struggling along with the absence of a focal point on campus, he said.

The institute and the new Humanities center, which held its inaugural event last weekend, should fill this gap, he said.

While the institute does not have currently have a physical presence on campus, Kritzman said office space for the new institute is currently being negotiated.

According to Berger, current funding for the Institute's activities comes from a variety of sources including the President and Dean of Faculty offices.

"As it begins to prosper it will be an area that alums and foundations in the mission would be generate endowment," Berger said.