Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download

uni'alumni 2015_ENG

Vienna, a world city: the cultural her- itage of the Habsburg monarchy, the proximity of the Slavic-speaking countries, the Austrian government with its generous support for research and the arts, the university’s department of Slavic studies – with 2000 students almost ten times as large as its counterpart in Freiburg. “Vienna is my dream town,” says Prof. Dr. Juliane Besters-Dilger. She served as professor for East Slavic linguistics there. For family reasons, she returned to the University of Freiburg in 2007, where she studied in the 1970s. She was convinced by what the Faculty of Philology in Freiburg had to offer, particularly the high quality interdiscipli- nary work being conducted there. And here of all places, far away from Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe, Besters-Dilger sees Slavic studies as having an important task: advocating harmonious relations between Germany and the Slavic-speaking world – espe- cially when the political climate worsens, like now in the current conflict between Russia and the United States. Juliane Besters-Dilger got into Slavic studies because she “was fascinated by how exotic Russia was.” She traveled to what is now Russia for the first time after finishing secondary school – with the Trans-Siberian Railway on her way to Japan. As a student, she found great interest in the West in Poland but a climate of distrust in the Soviet Union. This changed abruptly in the Russia of the 1990s, says the linguist. This makes the situation she perceives there now all the more unsettling: “At the University of Moscow in March 2014, I was shocked to experience an extremely charged atmosphere towards the Ukraine.” Never- theless, she continues to seek a dialogue in her research. Among other things, she is studying the distribution of the Russian and Ukrainian languages in the Ukraine and the difficulties native Rus- sian speakers have learning German. She wants her findings to serve as a ba- sis for education and understanding – both between the countries and within German society. Encouraging Dialogue in Academic Affairs Research will play a less prominent role for Juliane Besters-Dilger in the coming years: On 1 October 2014 she assumed office as the University of Freiburg’s full-time vice president for academic affairs. The linguist wants to encourage dialogue in her new position as well. “I’m open to unconventional forms of instruction.” An example is a joint seminar on European linguistic and minority policies she offered for stu- dents of the Universities of Freiburg and Lemberg, Ukraine. Moreover, she rec- ommends for all students, especially students of linguistics, to spend time abroad. She herself speaks several Slavic and Romance languages in addi- tion to German and English, “and in school I learned Latin and Ancient Greek.” Finally, she also wants to increase the popularity of e-learning at the university: “As a teacher, I’ve experienced online educational offerings combined with personal contact with teachers and other learners to be particularly helpful for students.” Nicolas Scherger PORTRAIT Juliane Besters-Dilger is the University of Freiburg’s new vice president for academic affairs. Photo: Baschi Bender Researching, Educating, Encouraging Dialogue The linguist Juliane Besters-Dilger promotes good relations with the Slavic countries 22 University News uni'alumni 2015