Community Outreach

Open Gate Campus
57th street campus gateway

Spark Program

The University of Chicago's chapter of SPARK for German connects undergraduate and graduate students with local public-school students. UChicago students conducted in-person sessions with Bret Hart Elementary School before the pandemic. In academic year 2020-2021 we organized virtual sessions with teens from high schools across Chicago. This past summer (2021) we partnered with the Chicago Public Library to provide thematically based sessions focused on German, Swiss, and Austrian art and sustainable practices to teens online.

College students may contact the supervisor of this program, Prof. Nicole G. Burgoyne, to inquire as to the availability of micro-Metcalf internships for the winter or spring quarters. We also hope to collaborate with students with work-study eligibility through a partnership with the Neighborhood Schools Program.

Graduate students with a minimum of two years of university level German instruction or equivalent immersive experience are also welcome to join our team. In the past, masters and PhD students have received funding by means of the Graduate Global Impact internship program. Tasks for graduate students include curriculum organization and lesson plan development, as well as leading sessions.

"Joining the SPARK program is undoubtedly one of the most memorable experiences that I have had at The University of Chicago. I remember how the students at Bret Harte Elementary School, where I taught in my third year, would excitedly greet Peter (my teaching partner) and me with a cheerful “Guten Tag” or “Tschüss” at the end of every lesson. The unique part about the SPARK program is that we do not only teach the students German but also teach them cool STEM concepts that they do not learn at school such as autopilot cars, 3D printing and the production of gummy bears! The pure enthusiasm that the students exhibited is a reward as well as a further motivation for my passion, which is to make knowledge fun and accessible to everybody. Even though we cannot hold in-person instruction now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still teaching students remotely through Google Classroom. Participating in the SPARK program unquestionably benefits me in many ways. For example, it increases my confidence to teach and hones my communication skills but, most importantly, it has given me the invaluable joy of hearing my student say, “This German class is the best part of my day, May!”
-Soo May Wee (Double-Major in Physics and Philosophy, Class of 2021, Recipient of DAAD Scholarship for Master's Program in Heidelberg, Germany)

Grace Carlebach, Class of 2024

Additional Outreach Programs

The German Studies Seminar provides a forum for scholarship-in-progress in the area of German Studies, broadly defined. We welcome work on modern and pre-modern topics from all disciplinary perspectives, including but not limited to Literature, History, Art History, Philosophy, Music, and the Social Sciences. The seminar is particularly interested in papers that cross disciplinary boundaries, and that re-conceptualize the materials and conventions of German Studies as a field, including beyond the frames of the German language and nation state.

CoffeeKlatsch is an opportunity for students to get together, drink coffee, eat snacks, and speak German informally for an hour or so. With many students unable to return to campus in Autumn 2020, the German Department sought new ways to connect with students and other members of the German-speaking community. In an initiative led by Shiva Rahmani (Assistant Instructional Professor of German), the Department partnered with five other universities across the country to offer collaborative virtual coffee hours: Harvard, Penn State, Purdue, Loyola, and Michigan State. These events brought together students, faculty, and other community members from each institution for lively conversations, games, and discussions. Plans for further collaborative events in Winter and Spring 2021 are currently underway! If you are either a member of the University of Chicago community and would like to attend these events, or a member of a peer institution and are interested in collaborating on an event, please contact Professor Rahmani at