Sebastian Heiduschke, Associate Professor of German, Oregon State University
Enlarge image Dr. Sebastian Heiduschke, Associate Professor of German, Oregon State University (© Sebastian Heiduschke) The German program at Oregon State University has undergone a dramatic revitalization over the past several years, faculty, administrators and students agree.
Course offerings have been redesigned to align with the interests of students and standards of the Common European Framework. An innovative first-year German program for STEM students has been developed and piloted, attracting students who might not otherwise have taken any language to take German. The internship abroad program has been expanded and service learning added, giving German students opportunities to interact with the larger community.
Impressively, enrollment has gone from a handful of students to over 140. This trend has coincided with the development and successful launch of the first online German degree program in the United States—expanding through its Ecampus OSU’s influence in German pedagogy to the national level.
All of these transformative developments—among a host of others—have been driven by OSU German professor Dr. Sebastian Heiduschke: “One of the country’s outstanding early career professors of German,” in the words of Larry Rodgers, Executive Dean of the Division of Arts and Science at OSU.
At the core of Heiduschke’s success is what fellow OSU German colleague Catherine Liggett calls his “radically student-centered approach.” Since arriving at OSU in 2008, he has systematically attuned every aspect of the German program to conform to student needs and desires.
He has revamped the curriculum for the major and minor with the goal of promoting media literacy, changing course content to reflect contemporary German issues; introduced a “BYOD” (“Bring Your Own Device”) teaching methodology, encouraging students to use their smartphones as an aid in language learning; and opened doors to paid summer internships allowing majors to gain critical language immersion experience while earning credit towards their degree.
“In short, when reviewing Dr. Heiduschke’s work, one is struck by his fearless and effective dedication to innovation in the realm of foreign language pedagogy,” says Liggett.
Even as the online German degree program he spearheaded has raised the profile of the German program at OSU to the national level, making Heiduschke an in-demand speaker at conferences and leader of workshops on how to boost enrollment nationwide, the modest professor, originally from Bamberg, Germany, insists he did not set out to be a transformative scholar-teacher.
“I fell into it,” he says. “Teaching German was how I supported my graduate studies at the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Austin. I loved how students could go from not knowing any German to carrying a simple conversation in only a few weeks. It was gratifying and exciting to watch them master concepts and ideas.”
With his unceasing innovation and passion for the subject matter—especially East German cinema, on which he is a leading scholarly voice (he is also Associate Director of Portland German Film Festival; co-founder of the Oregon State International Film Festival; and author, most recently of East German Cinema: DEFA and Film History)—Heiduschke’s classes consistently rank among the most popular in the World Languages and Cultures department. His teaching is inspiring students with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, including a new generation of scholar-teachers.
Says Sydney Crabaugh, a student in Heiduschke’s Masterpieces of German Cinema class: “Coming to class was never a chore, it was an adventure. Without fail, Professor Heiduschke had an innovative method every time for how to approach the films. Some days, we would use social media, video sharing and recording, and other technological techniques that kept everyone attentive to the lesson. Other weeks, we had intimate group discussions about what was happening on and off screen.”
For Crabaugh, who also worked with Heiduschke on his thesis, the OSU German professor is a source of continuing inspiration.
“For someone such as myself who would like to become a professor as well, it is without a doubt that I find him to be a unique and inspiring individual.”