Berkeley first in nation to offer Dutch graduate degree

Henry Ascencio/Staff

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The perfect illustration of both world-class academics and liberal culture, UC Berkeley will be the first university in the country to offer a graduate degree in Dutch studies next year.

The new graduate program, approved by the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate Saturday, will complement any doctorate degree by adding a designated emphasis in Dutch studies to six students who demonstrate particular passion in the field.

The designated emphasis, or a specialization that serves as a “minor” to a doctorate degree, will take an interdisciplinary approach by encompassing several facets of Dutch culture, including literature, linguistics, art history and sociology.

“When I began teaching, I came to the conclusion that Berkeley was basically the only university in the country that had sufficient resources to expand this program to reach a graduate level,” Queen Beatrix professor in Dutch studies Jeroen Dewulf said. “I realized I couldn’t do it by myself, I had to reach out.”

The program, initiated and directed by Dewulf, has been in deliberation since earlier this year and will be offered starting Spring 2013.

According to Dewulf, the Netherlands has a strong colonial legacy, and Dutch influences span the globe. Thus, he sought out colleagues in such departments like African American studies and art history when forming the graduate program.

“Literary and philosophical movements and ideas constantly move across linguistic borders,” said Seth Meyer, a doctoral student in the German department. “An important part of my dissertation could hinge on this Dutch influence and, with more Dutch courses available in the future, I am certain future students will utilize such connections more readily.”

According to Dewulf, a problem many passionate students face is an inability to decipher texts and assimilate themselves with the Dutch language. To overcome this barrier, the department has created a new type of class, “Dutch for Reading Knowledge,” which will cater to graduate students.

German department lecturer Inez Hollander, who will teach the reading course, said the city of Berkeley has several social similarities with the liberal and multicultural city of Amsterdam, making it an appropriate place to deepen the program.

“In the Netherlands, pot is legal, as is gay marriage and prostitution,” Hollander said. “The Netherlands may be small, but its legacy has been quite cosmopolitan, and American students can learn a lot from this.”

The graduate program will be funded solely through Nederlandse Taalunie, translated as the Dutch Language Union, a Dutch-Belgium organization which supports the teaching of Dutch abroad. The organization designated Berkeley as America’s leading Dutch studies program.

Dewulf said his greatest ambition is to grow Dutch studies into its own doctoral program instead of its current status as a designated emphasis. He believes the new graduate courses offered on campus will attract students throughout the nation and facilitate further global research and cooperation with schools across the world.

“Sometimes people think of the Netherlands as a small country with windmills and wooden shoes,” Dewulf said. “But in terms of its potential, it is very important. I’m obviously very pleased about this historic moment in our field.”

Contact Virgie Hoban at [email protected].

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  • Michael Hoban

    Aside from a simple typo in the begining; this is a great article. Thank you for highlighting Berkeley. Jerone Dewulf, has edited that. Now we know Berkeley is first University in the country graduating student to Ph.D.s in Dutch Studies. That’s the proud story.
    And so …wake up and smell the coffee! Culture, social ramafications, etc. are here and now as well as then and past. And yes Berkeley, San Francisco, Amsterdam (home of a zillion museums and ringing church bells)) are kindered souls. They were conceived and weened on a “Barbary Coast”. Their forefathers were open and fearless intelligent adventurers; in body and soul. Freedoms in thinking and freedoms in playing were, and are encouraged, rather than damned.
    Looks like somebody had (has ) a sound idea. We all know the proud numbers. These cities , are home to the greatest covy of Ph. D s etc on our planet. They also have the highest income per capita and highest quality of living. They annually voted “least likely place to get busted for smoking a joint” even though; yes Cannibis and Prostitution are illegal in the Netherlands!
    All “Drugs” are illegal as provisions of a treaty our Uncle Sam forced upon the “Free World” in the 60’s. And of course making any thing illegal creates wonderful power. Don’t worry about our students getting into trouble in Amsterdam’s “Brown Cafes”. They are where the locals party. The “Coffe Houses” are where our children go, to smoke grass. Alcohol is not allowed in the coffee houses. Getting drunk and brawling, and pucking all over streets (like we do in U.S.A) is a great no no. I walked the Amsterdam streets of Coffee Houses, Red Lights. and Brown Houses” a fortnight; I could find no violence or puck! I did run into their cops. I at first thought them to be Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts. They were young and bright and spoke fluent English; like most of the Netherlands. They were too busy helping lost tourists to waste time chasing after dope smokers.

    • Guest

      …thanks Dad….You’re a very interesting fellow. And I’m very sorry for the misstatement on the course/program detail, my editors are in the process of correcting my faux pas.

    • Guest

      …thanks Dad….You’re a very interesting fellow. And I’m very sorry for the misstatement on the course/program detail, my editors are in the process of correcting my faux pas.

  • Svend La Rose

    WHy bother ? This is america , teach American !

  • Jeroen Dewulf

    Allow me to clarify a misunderstanding by the journalist in the title and the first paragraph of this article. Dutch graduate courses have been offered for a long time in the United States, not only in Berkeley but also at many other universities. Not only Dutch Studies programs but also other departments such as History, History of Art and Southeast Asian Studies have been offering Dutch graduate courses for many decades. However, in the past, graduate students were not able to graduate with a Ph.D.-degree in Dutch Studies. So, what is really new and so remarkable about Berkeley is that Dutch graduate courses will now become part of an established graduate curriculum with the official diploma designation “Ph.D. in Student
    Major with a Designated Emphasis in Dutch Studies.”

  • I_h8_disqus

    “In the Netherlands, pot is legal, as is gay marriage and prostitution.” Hollander must realize that the country is one of the top countries in the world in so many areas, so I think his statement is more of an insult to the city of Berkeley when the first things he thinks might interest the people of Berkeley are legalizing pot, gay marriage, and prostitution.

    • i_h8_i_h8_disqus

      Hollander is a woman and she knows more about the city of Berkeley than you, she’s an incredible professor. And it’s not a statement about Berkeley but all of California — Prop 19, Prop 8, and Prop 35 are about those all, respectively, so apparently lots of people care about them one way or another.

      • Stan De San Diego

        The fact that those causes are the defining reasons for liberal’s admiration of the Netherlands doesn’t say much for their own knowledge and appreciation of Dutch culture or hitsory. It’s like being a resident of San Francisco and having your own city defined by the Folsom Street Fair – how shallow and embarrassing.

      • I_h8_disqus

        You didn’t say anything to contradict what I said. You just emphasized how Berkeley and California are not focusing on the things they need to focus on if they ever want to become like the Dutch. There is a reason that the Netherlands is in the top three for quality of life, while people in Berkeley live far far below that level, and Hollander pointed it out with her statement.

  • Marlies V.

    This article is not all about ”pet crusades”. In Dewulf’s defense, he also says that ”the Netherlands has a strong colonial legacy, and Dutch influences span the globe” and that as a country, ”in terms of its potential, it is very important” and Hollander states that the country’s legacy is cosmopolitan and Amsterdam liberal and multicultural.
    As a Dutch person, I’m not at all insulted by this article…!

  • BH

    As a Cal alumnus living in Flanders, I was initially encouraged by the headline but then scandalized by the characterization of the Netherlands in terms of Amsterdam’s excesses, which hardly reflect Dutch culture, and offended by the neglect of historic and contemporary Flanders. Dutch studies cannot and must not study solely the contemporary Netherlands, as these professors well know. The headline made me proud of my alma mater, and my initial impulse was to forward this article to my Flemish friends. But now I won’t, as I know it would only offend them.

    • You do understand that nowadays the average American college student’s obligatory European vacation consists of a couple months of hanging around the Walletje spending most of Mommy and Daddy’s money on the goods and services offered by the numerous brown cafes and window stalls, niet waar? After that, these children go home and lecture the rest of us about how “sophisticated” and “enlightened” Europe is compared to the bad old United States of America…

  • Jethro

    Ik ben het met Tony eens:

    Also, pot is not legal, do your homework:

    remains a controlled substance in the Netherlands and both possession
    and production for personal use are still misdemeanors,
    punishable by fines. Coffee shops are also technically illegal but are
    flourishing nonetheless. However, a policy of non-enforcement has led to
    a situation where reliance upon non-enforcement has become common, and
    because of this the courts have ruled against the government when
    individual cases were prosecuted.” From .

  • [“In the Netherlands, pot is legal, as is gay marriage and prostitution,”]

    Het spijt me mevrouw, maar een moment alstublieft. The Dutch people have made some serious contributions to geography, art and technology, yet all you can think about is your pet crusades. How insulting…