The Ohio State University at Newark

Ohio State Newark Students Prepare for Spring Break Education Abroad Trip

NEWARK, Ohio, March 8, 2017 – Eighteen students and two faculty members from The Ohio State University at Newark are getting ready for the adventure of a lifetime. They will be arriving in Berlin, Germany on Sunday, March 12, to spend their spring break on an education abroad trip. This will be the fifth group that Assistant Dean Stephanie Brown and Comparative Studies Lecturer Stephen Evans have taken to Berlin since 2011.

Students spend the first half of spring semester studying, formulating a research project and becoming familiar with the history of the city. During the eight days abroad, the students will tour World War II bunkers, Berlin Wall remains, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and the Stasi jail at Hohenschönhausen. In between tours and research, students say they are determined to eat as much authentic German food as possible and see theatrical performances.

In conjunction with their travels, students take an English course focused on the literature of Berlin. Many of the students are English majors, but the course is designed so that any student with an interest in Berlin can participate. There are a range of other majors taking part in the trip this semester, including molecular genetics, athletic training, psychology, biology and zoology.

Working closely with Library Director Katie Blocksidge, students formulate research topics individually or in groups. While abroad, students will conduct research focusing on anything from German architecture and art to Berlin as an eco-friendly “Green City.” One student will travel to Zwickau and five students will travel to Chemnitz to volunteer in a public school by working with elementary and middle school students.

To document and analyze their research while abroad, the class will meet for daily discussions about their findings and keep a journal of observations and experiences. Students will post to a class blog where they can share daily activities and discoveries with family and friends back home. The on-site research will be compiled on individual websites. Students will do a class referat (German for “presentation”) based on their research project.

Sophomore Abigail Shell is studying German as her foreign language and hopes to put her skills to use when she travels to Chemnitz to work with students. As a psychology major, Shell wants to know how Germany’s healthcare system affects school counselors and the students they help.

“I want to learn about the German school counseling system and possibly compare it to the American school counseling system,” said Shell.

In addition to working with the students, Shell will be interviewing teachers and school counselors to learn about the similarities and differences between the German and American counseling systems and their role in a public school setting. In Germany, healthcare is funded by a statutory contribution system that ensures free healthcare for all. Payment into the health insurance fund is based on income. Private healthcare is also available.

“Since they have health care provided, I’m interested in seeing how that affects the role a school counselor plays. For example, are they invested in helping students with psychological problems, or are they more of an intermediate step in helping students find other counseling services?”

Charles Hausfeld, a freshman molecular genetics major, will be researching eco-terrorism and anti-genetic modification.

“Germany is one of the most conservative countries in the world when it comes to genetic modification. The United States is one of the most liberal. As a future geneticist, I need to have an understanding of both,” said Hausfeld.

Because Germany is so conservative, it is common for non-governmental organizations to take action against genetic modification. Even after passing government regulations, organizations will attack the fields where the test crops are planted.

“You have to do a field trial on your genetically-modified food and get it approved by the German equivalent of the FDA. You also have to publicly list any genetically-modified plants you are growing online so groups like Greenpeace have access to the location of it, and they’ll go destroy the crops.”

But Hausfeld isn’t just focusing on the genetic modification process, he also wants to explore the moral theme of genetic modification.

“Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had about genetic modification include the ethics behind it. A lot of genetics is aimed at helping people, and you have to make sure people actually want your help.”

Hausfeld is hopeful that his Berlin research will continue to evolve as his studies advance and that he will participate in research forums through Ohio State.

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected