Deutsch: Sprache, Literatur, Geschichte

Deutsch: Sprache, Literatur, Geschichte

Canisius' German Heritage

Image of Bishop TimonGerman and Canisius College have been inseparable ever since the college was founded in 1870. Bishop John Timon, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Buffalo, had invited German Jesuits to establish institutions of secondary and of higher learning. This invitation was extended upon the request of the German community of Buffalo. When the first 35 students arrived at Canisius College's temporary location at 434 Ellicott Street, thirty-one of them were of German descent. All of them understood German and most spoke German better than English. The one French and three Irish lads in the first Freshman class must have been shocked when their Latin teacher handed them a Latin grammar book in which all rules were explained in German! 

When the college moved to a new building on Washington Avenue in 1872, the number of faculty was increased by the arrival of additional Jesuits, who had been expelled from their native Germany under Otto von Bismarck's chancellorship. Father Behren, the first president of Canisius College, recognized by 1873 that the number of students of nationalities other than German was increasing, and so he and his successor sought to recruit new members for the faculty, who also had an excellent command of English. However, in an 1873 Canisius College advertisement in the Catholic Union the following statement appeared: "As many of the professors (at Canisius College) are natives of Germany, the students of this institution have special facilities for acquiring a thorough knowledge of the German language." ---

Group at lectureTo this day the ties beween the college and the German-American community of Western New York remain strong - the Annual German Christmas Mass, for instance, is at all times attended by more than two-hundred parishioners. It should come as no surprise then that to this day many of the more than 300,000 individuals of German ancestry in Erie County refer to Canisius as "The German College" of Buffalo.

Students in NYCA telling example for the generous support the German-American community of WNY offers Canisius' German program and her students is the Father Finnegan, SJ, Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship, together with the recently established German Studies and Activities Fund, assists Canisius' talented and dedicated German majors financially, and also provides resources for extra-curricular events like study tours to German American Chamber of Commerce in New York City or visits to the Toronto International Film Festival.

Canisius and the Study of German, Today

The German program at Canisius is innovative and visionary. It combines academic rigor and expectation with the needs of the corporate world and the globalized market, and also draws - and does so explicitly - from student wishes and student recommendations.

The study and acquisition of the German language follows the COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR LANGUAGES and guides students to a C1-proficiency in all four areas of language learning - speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The application of this successful model prepares students both for their semester or year abroad as well as for their future careers.

The ambition to lead students to a complex linguistic proficiency is matched by a challenging selection of sixteen electives or content courses, arranged in five groups: 1. CULTURE, 2. LITERATURE, 3. HISTORY and POLITICS, 4. FILM, 5. PHILOSOPHY.

By combining courses from at least four of the five categories, every student obtains a broad knowledge of all matters German and gains a solid understanding of contemporary Germany - which in turn will enable her or him to navigate with ease in any German setting.

The value of Canisius' creative concept of studying German and the significance of the college's bold German curriculum can be seen in recent successes of her German majors:

  • four Fulbright Scholars since 2010
  • one DAAD Undergraduate Scholar in 2013/14
  • one GACCNY Intern to Germany in the summer of 2014
  • three students earned a master's degree from a university in Germany
  • 100% employment for German majors after graduation