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German Green Party Politicians Visit Campus

Kerstin Celina and Ekin DeligözOn February 19, Assistant Professor of Political Science Besir Ceka led a conversation about democracy in Europe with German Green Party Politicians Ekin Deligöz and Kerstin Celina. The German Studies department, American Council on Germany, and Federal Republic of Germany sponsored the event as the highlight of a week-long residency.

"I asked a number of questions about current political topics in Europe, such as the Ukrainian crisis, Greek crisis and environmental issues," said Ceka. Deligöz and Celina discussed Europe's democracy in terms of the European financial situation, immigration and integration, the Green Party's position on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and energy policy.

Celina is a member of the Bavarian State Parliament and is trained as a labor economist. She actually spent a year at Davidson as an exchange student in the early 1990s and has returned for lectures in the past. Deligöz is a member of Bundestag and currently serves on the budget committee. This was her first visit to Davidson.

The discussion and visit were organized by Professor of German Studies Scott Denham, who knows Celina from her time at Davidson and his visits to Germany. Celina introduced him to Deligöz, and he has taken students to meet with her at her Bundestag office in Berlin twice. "I'm on the planning committee for the American Council on Germany chapter in Charlotte. Our mission is to educate people about and further the transatlantic relationship between the U.S. and Germany," said Denham. "Because of that we were able to have ACG sponsor Deligöz and Celina."

Denham wanted Celina and Deligöz to meet with students connected to their own and Green Party primary concerns, including equality, sustainability, and justice for all. He also thought it was important for students to learn about the daily work that they do as part of their respective national and state parliaments. "I wanted them to have something to offer us in the U.S. and students at Davidson, but I also wanted them to learn from lots of different perspectives," he said.

In addition to the discussion, Celina and Deligöz met with local organizations and schools, and Davidson students, attending classes such as Prof. Graham Bullock's Environmental Politics course and Ceka's West European Politics course. "In my class we have studied party positioning and platforms so it was neat for the students to gain insight from actual politicians who represent those parties," said Ceka.

Political science and German Studies will intersect again when Ceka accompanies Denham's German for Economics and Policy students to Berlin during spring break.