Support Dutch Studies in the United States - update October 2013

17 October 2013
Klik hier om de nieuwsbrief in het Nederlands te lezen.
Support Dutch Studies in the United States

Every year around 900 American students study Dutch at their home universities. Their reasons for choosing Dutch are as diverse as the students themselves: origin and family ties, interest in the shared history with and the art and cultural history of the Low Countries, and a wide range of other academic interests.

Despite broad and diverse interest in the Dutch language and culture in the United States, Dutch remains one of the Less Commonly Taught Languages at US universities. Due to the financial crisis, departments of Dutch even face financial restraints or serious budget cuts. The Nederlandse Taalunie is working to change this by solidifying the position of Dutch Studies as an independent academic endeavor at universities in the US. Campaigns by US universities to promote their Dutch departments such as at Columbia University and UC Berkeley can provide a tremendous boost to these efforts. The Taalunie stands behind these campaigns with a case for support, an Advisory Council, and a network of people and organizations who are also eager to lend their expertise and experience to promoting Dutch Studies.

Nice to meet you
The project 'Support Dutch Studies in the United States' has its own Advisory Council, that held its very first meeting in New York City early October 2013. The council is made up of specialists and representatives of associations who aim to maintain warm relations between the Low Countries and the United States. They provide recommendations on cooperating with Dutch departments at US universities, and they assist in finding people who are willing to support these programs.

Pictured from left to right: Jan Joosten, Donald Westervelt (standing in for Ken Winans), Liesbet Vannyvel (Nederlandse Taalunie) and Walter Prevenier.

Please meet:
1. Walter Prevenier, Professor Emeritus University Ghent
2. Emile Boulpaep, Belgian American Education Foundation
3. Rita Bral, former Honorary Consul of Belgium in San Francisco
4. Ken Winans, Pacific Southwest Representative of the Holland Society of New York
5. Jan Joosten, Netherland America Foundation, New York
6. Thomas Lambert, Belgian Embassy in Washington
7. David Baeckelandt, Gazette van Detroit
New insights on the origins of New Netherland
Walter Prevenier, member of the Advisory Council, is Professor Emeritus of Historical Criticism at Ghent University. In early October he attended a seminar hosted by the New Netherland Institute which focused on new insights of the origins of New Netherland.

Click here to read more about the cosmopolitan immigrants, the propaganda that lay behind 17th-century maps, and the historic events which led many to set sail for the New World.
» Nice to meet you
» New insights on the origins of New Netherland
» Designated Emphasis in Dutch Studies at UC Berkeley
» Why Dutch?
» Support Dutch Studies in the US
Studying Dutch at UC Berkeley
Kankan Xie is a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley. He is taking the Southeast Asian Studies program with a Designated Emphasis in Dutch Studies. His research project focuses on the history of the social radicals in Indonesia during the late-colonial and early-independent period. Kankan says: “Learning the Dutch language is a very good way to help me better understand American culture itself, and the rest of the world in general”. Read Kankan’s opinion on the benefits of studying Dutch in the United States.
Cultural and historical ties
To the north of New York City lies the town of New Paltz, which has more links with Belgium than the name seems to suggest. From 1677 onwards, twelve men originating from contemporary Belgium moved to this area. They laid the foundations for what was to become a rich history, which can still be seen in Historic Huguenot Street. The archives of the Walloon Church, for example, are a rich source of material for stories galore. Let us join forces to strengthen the cultural and historical ties between the Low Countries and the United States. Read the column by Kevin De Coninck.
Designated Emphasis in Dutch Studies at UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley is offering a program for PhD students from different academic disciplines with an emphasis on the study of the Dutch language and the Dutch-speaking world. The goal of the program is to provide young researchers in the US with the opportunity to engage in advanced academic study with an emphasis on Dutch.

The Designated Emphasis in Dutch Studies was officially launched in April 2013 with a lecture by Ronald Leopold, Director of Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House. The introduction was provided by Jeroen Dewulf, the Belgian Professor at UC Berkeley who holds the ‘Queen Beatrix Chair in Dutch Studies’.
The Taalunie’s Secretary General, Geert Joris, and his Policy and Development Coordinator, Kevin De Coninck, presented the case for support of the Taalunie to a select audience of interested parties.

UC Berkeley Professor Jeroen Dewulf is currently engaged in expanding the Dutch Studies program with lectures, workshops and elective courses for undergraduate, graduate and PhD students. For example, Cynthia McLeod, Surinamese author of the best-selling novel The cost of Sugar? (recently released as a film) will give a lecture on November 13, and courses are focused on African American History, South-East Asian Studies and World War II.
Why Dutch?
We spoke to students taking Intermediate Dutch at Columbia University in New York City. Why are they studying Dutch?

“I want to work at the International Court of Justice in The Hague", says Jordan. Josie has a completely different reason: “I want to be able to communicate with my family in the Netherlands, where my father comes from.” Gemma tells us: “I want to do my post-doc in speech-language pathology in Groningen or Nijmegen".

So many students, so many reasons. That’s why: Dutch!
Support Dutch Studies in the US
If you want to participate and join us to support the Dutch programs at universities in the United States, please don't hesitate to contact us. You can send an email to Liesbet Vannyvel at lvannyvel@taalunie.orgRead more on supporting Dutch and tax benefits at our website.

Please feel free to forward this update to other people who might be interested. 

You have received this message because you are involved in, or are interested in the project of the Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union) in the United States. We will be pleased to send you occasional updates on this topic. Please feel free to contact Liesbet Vannyvel at if you would like to know more about our work or if you have questions. If you would prefer not to receive periodic updates on our project in the US, please send an e-mail to
A Belgian-Dutch Matinee in Manhattan
In early October the Taalunie organized a matinee performance in New York City to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the school for Dutch language and culture ’t Klokhuis in New Jersey. The program included a hilarious performance of Hi Ha! for the kids, while adults were encouraged to contemplate their vision of America together with Michiel Vos, Dutch-born commentator and expert on the US. See the photo report.

The Taalunie and Michiel Vos:

Interactive theatre performance:

Belgian waffles for young and old:

Dit is een uitgave van de Nederlandse Taalunie

+ 31 70 346 95 48


Over ons

Alles over het Nederlands