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Georgia Magazine feature: Martin Kagel

Alan Flurry

Our colleagues at Georgia Magazine published this Faculty Focus Q & A with Martin Kagel, Associate Provost for Global Engagement,

Office of Global Engagement.

A former associate dean in the Franklin, Kagel is the A.G. Steer Professor in Goethe Studies in the Franklin College.

A native of Germany, Kagel has spent decades teaching German studies and helping others understand the importance of the humanities and international studies. During his tenure at UGA, Kagel has served as the head of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, as associate dean for humanities and international studies in the Franklin College and is currently overseeing UGA’s Office of Global Engagement. 

Kagel’s research has addressed subjects in German literature and culture from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. He is especially interested in German-Jewish and European studies, as well as in uncovering the mechanics of the literary marketplace. Kagel has co-developed several programs at UGA, including student and faculty exchange programs between UGA and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, a minor in transnational European studies, and a dual-degree program in German and engineering that includes a year of study abroad. 

What first piqued your interest in German studies?

When I began my studies in Berlin, I was an eager student, hungry for more knowledge about my own country’s history and literature. I wanted to dig deeper, better understand German cultural attitudes and political developments and studying German literature offered a path to do so, a very enjoyable one at that. Later, when I studied in the U.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I got my Ph.D., I learned to appreciate the American perspective on Germany, a unique outside perspective that opened up new and compelling questions.

Why are humanities courses valuable for students?

Because we are human. There is so much you can learn from study in the humanities. You learn about people’s motivations, how societies function, how to describe your feelings and those of others, about ethical quandaries one can face, and what gives meaning to our lives. And, of course, foreign language and intercultural studies are part of the humanities. No education is complete without extensive study in the humanities. 

You currently serve as associate provost for global engagement. How important are students’ international experiences? 

In an ideal world, every student at UGA would have the opportunity to study abroad. Why? Because the experience of being in a culture that’s not your own teaches you invaluable lessons about cultural difference, about the diversity of peoples, about economic and educational disparities, how others see us, as Americans, and about how our actions here impacts people’s lives in other parts of the world. We want our students to be global citizens. Study abroad plays an essential role in this endeavor. 


Image: Photo of Martin Kagel by Peter Frey for Georgia Magazine, in the fall 2022 issue.



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