Lakeland College

Why Luxembourg?

October 23, 2013 By In Scott Niederjohn Blog
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Bonjour, Guten Tag, Hello, Moien, Lakeland Friends,

While on sabbatical this fall from Lakeland, I am living with my wife and four children in Luxembourg City. The U.S. Fulbright Scholar program has provided me with the opportunity to teach and work at the University of Luxembourg this semester. This is the first of periodic updates on my activities here in Europe as they relate Lakeland.

First, many readers might be asking, “Why Luxembourg?” Actually, I suspect many are also asking, “Where is Luxembourg?” as I’ve had kind well-wishers from campus offer me good luck in London, Belgium, Lichtenstein, and Germany. Perhaps this isn’t surprising given the size of this tiny country—smaller than Rhode Island and wedged between France, Germany and Belgium. To provide an example of how small this country really is, we travel just 20 minutes to Belgium to visit the local IKEA store and about 25 minutes into France to find a sporting goods store. I’ve finally learned to put my phone on “airplane mode” when I go shopping so my Luxembourg-based service provider doesn’t charge me international roaming fees as I do errands.

Luxembourg
The choice to spend a semester here wasn’t made haphazardly; in fact, this opportunity came about after a number of years of careful planning and relationship building both in Europe and Wisconsin. My interest in the country of Luxembourg originated with a meeting back in the spring of 2010—organized by Lakeland Interim President Dan Eck— at the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society, located in Belgium, Wis. This society is involved with activities designed to preserve Luxembourg heritage and culture in America and nurture the ongoing relationships of family, friendship, commerce, and tourism between Luxembourg and America. Since that meeting, Lakeland has worked closely with this society on projects related to student internships, philanthropy, research, event planning and business development activities between the United States and Luxembourg.

This relationship with the LACS eventually led to an invitation by the University of Luxembourg to visit their campus and investigate opportunities for our two institutions to work together. I visited Luxembourg in February of 2012 in an effort to begin to establish student and faculty exchange programs between our college and the University of Luxembourg. During this visit, I made a number of important contacts with officials in the Luxembourg government and with faculty and staff at the university. Connections made during this visit eventually led to the invitation to visit the University of Luxembourg as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. Both institutions believe that a semester-long faculty visit will be an ideal way to solidify the relationships we have begun to build in terms of student and faculty exchange. I’m happy to report that our first two Lakeland students will be studying in Luxembourg during the spring term of 2014, but more on this in future updates.

Photo-1 

Due to various rules related to the Fulbright Scholarship Program and Luxembourg’s immigration process, our family was not allowed to enter continental Europe until early September. Given this restriction, we decided to spend the last couple of weeks in August visiting the United Kingdom. While most of our time in England and Scotland was family vacation, I did have the opportunity to arrange a meeting with the general manager of the Kohler Company-owned Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews, Scotland. The tour of this beautiful facility, right next to the famous “Road Hole” on the Old Course, made me feel like I was back in Sheboygan County with the Kohler plumbing fixtures and water spa identical to the one in Kohler, Wis. This visit led to a promising invitation to work with their personnel to develop opportunities for Lakeland students to serve as interns at the hotel, and I’ve already heard from colleagues at home telling me they have advisees interested for next summer.

Photo-2

We were fortunate to have a week to get settled in Luxembourg before my duties at the university began. The immigration process is quite time consuming (especially for six!) and it took a while to understand how to use the bus system, shop for the basic necessities of life, and generally acclimate ourselves to life in a new country. Luxembourg is a very interesting place—at any time you can hear a multitude of languages being spoken in the various public places around the city. The Luxembourg education system emphasizes language instruction and produces high school graduates that are generally fluent in their native language of Luxembourgish, as well as German, French and English. The official language of the government is French and therefore signs and official documents are displayed in that language. My investment this past year in attempting to learn French has come in very handy as I navigate the public transportation system and fill out the various government forms. 

One of the wonderful benefits of the Fulbright program is the connection with the U.S. State Department and Embassy system. We receive invitations to all of the local U.S. Embassy’s official events, one of which occurred during the first week we arrived. My wife, Stephanie, and I attended a reception and premiere of the movie “The Butler” with a distinguished group of guests, including the American and British ambassadors to this country. Interestingly, I learned that evening that America’s first African American ambassador was stationed right here in Luxembourg in 1965. 

I’m now about three weeks into my course titled, the United States Economy, Culture and Business Practices. My class is one of four options students in the economics and business majors can choose among to satisfy one of their requirements. This seminar-style course explores a number of topics, including: U.S. economic history, the American economy today, the financial crisis of 2007-2009, American business and entrepreneurship as well as general issues of cultural and business differences between the United States and Europe. To enrich the final topic, the class will be visiting the U.S. Embassy in November and hearing from a guest speaker from the American Chamber of Commerce here in Luxembourg, as well. We are reading two books—Michael Lewis’ “Boomerang” which discusses how the U.S.-centered housing crisis spread quickly to Europe’s economies, and Walter Issacson’s well-known biography “Jobs,” recently made into a film, which will help us think about entrepreneurship in America.   

Photo-3

My class is, of course, taught in English. The university is tri-lingual and all of the students enrolled in my section also take classes that are taught in French and German. In addition to being a multi-lingual school, all of the University of Luxembourg’s undergraduate students are also required to complete a “mobility” assignment. Essentially, this assignment requires them to study abroad for one semester. Because the country is so small, many of the students choose to simply live at home with their parents and drive to one of the universities in the neighboring countries to fulfill this requirement. This problem explains their interest in Lakeland as they would like more of their students to study in North America, Asia or at least outside of the bordering European countries.

I currently have more than 70 students enrolled in the class, which is causing my wife some stress as I’ve invited them all over to our small rented home for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (and to watch the Packers beat the Lions) next month as part of the “culture” component of the class. The students at the university are allowed to spend the first month of the term sampling various classes and are not required to actually register for their final schedule until next week. This system has taken me some time to adapt to as I have no idea which students will actually be enrolled in my class until we are almost one third of the way through the term. Another significant difference between American higher education and the typical European university also became apparent in my first class meeting. The students here are used to classes that are completely lecture-based with their entire grade dependent upon one high stakes exam at the end. They seemed very confused when I explained that part of their grade was dependent upon discussion of the books we’re reading and that they would also be making group presentations on different topics related to America. Even the quiet students that are a little nervous about the discussion and presentation components of the class are excited not to have to take a long final exam in January and instead be evaluated throughout the term on a diverse set of assessment activities. 

I’ll close by mentioning that I’ve also been busy attending faculty meetings, discussing strategies for building our exchange program with University of Luxembourg faculty and staff, and learning more about best practices for internationalizing Lakeland’s business programs. This week, I will be making presentations to the students here about opportunities to study abroad at Lakeland. I’ll share more about all of these activities in next month’s installment.

Until then, Addi, Au Revior, Good Bye, Tschau,

Scott

PS—The first question many of those that know me well asked when they heard I was moving to Europe wasn’t where we will live or where my kids will go to school, but how I will watch the Packers. Well, it’s about 7:30 pm here in Luxembourg on Sunday, October 6, and I’m enjoying watching the Packers beat the Lions. We plugged a device called Slingbox into our cable box in Wisconsin and we can watch all of the Time Warner Wisconsin cable channels—including our DVR—here in Luxembourg on our computers, iPads or iPhones. Another example of how flat the world has become.

Read 2285 times
Scott Niederjohn

A noted state economist, Scott Niederjohn is one of the nation's top advocates for adding economic education to K-12 curriculum. Since joining Lakeland's faculty in 2004, Scott has led the creation of the Lakeland Center for Economic Education, which works with EconomicsWisconsin to create financial literacy and economics curriculum and other tools for K-12 teachers. His research has been featured in numerous academic journals, and his research and thoughts on public policy and other state issues regularly have him quoted by statewide media outlets.

Related items

  • Criminal justice program expands
    Lakeland University’s Criminal Justice program, dedicated to keeping its curriculum fresh and current, is adding seven courses beginning this fall.

    The following new classes will help keep the program among Wisconsin’s most progressive and relevant when it comes to meeting the needs of an ever-evolving industry:

    * Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology

    * Victimology

    * Violence and Violent Crime

    * Media, Crime and Violence

    * Drugs, Crime and Society

    * Data Analysis in Criminal Justice

    * Criminal Justice Administration

    The additions are the result of extensive research and outreach by assistant professors of criminal justice Richard Lemke and Karin Miofsky.

    “We added courses that highlight what is relevant in today’s society,” said Miofsky. “Over the past few years, Dr. Lemke has put an enormous amount of work into identifying what our students should learn prior to leaving Lakeland in order to succeed in the criminal justice field.”
  • Lakeland's cell tissue lab being put to good use this summer
    Imagine taking an adult cell, wiping its coded memory clean, then re-programming it to become any kind of cell needed to benefit humanity.

    That’s an oversimplified way to describe the exciting work Lakeland College students Jamie Gundlach and Suzette Rosas are doing this summer under the tutelage of Jered McGivern, Lakeland’s assistant professor of biochemistry.

    The trio’s cutting-edge experimentation is taking place in Lakeland’s brand new Feldmann Lab, which opened in spring thanks to an $840,000 gift from 1969 graduate Clifford Feldmann.

    McGivern, Gundlach and Rosas are working with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), taken from the donated skin tissue of an adult female.

    “While our bodies develop in the womb, our cells learn what they will become – heart cells, brain cells, liver cells, skin cells, etc.,” McGivern explained.

    “Scientists have discovered how to erase adult cells’ memories and create ‘naive’ cells, or embryonic-like cells. Once these adult cells have been re-programmed, they act very much like embryonic stem cells. We can then take those cells and develop them into any kind of cell we want.”

    McGivern said Gundlach, who’s from Ripon, and Rosas, who’s from Sheboygan, are interested in eventually re-programming the donated skin cells into astrocytes – specialized cells that support neurons in the brain.

    “This work will help us understand the human brain, and could have implications down the road in terms of understanding diseases and finding cures,” said McGivern, a Wausau native.

    “But first, we must develop a reliable and reproducible system.”

    On a recent Friday afternoon, McGivern assisted Gundlach and Rosas as they “chopped” iPSCs into smaller pieces, so they would continue to grow and replicate. The cells are kept in liquid that mimics human blood, and are stored in incubators set at the temperature of the human body with regulated concentrations of oxygen.

    “This process will give us an almost unlimited supply of tissue for our ongoing experiments,” McGivern said.

    “We are extremely excited to launch this research and proud to be processing the first cell line in this lab space. We are obviously grateful for Dr. Feldmann and his generous donation, which makes this important work possible.”

    McGivern said the kind of work Gundlach and Rosas are doing is fairly commonplace at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin, but not at the nation’s smaller, liberal arts institutions.

    “This lab here at Lakeland provides a tremendous opportunity for our undergraduates to delve into this fascinating field,” he said. “At the bigger universities, they primarily serve their graduate students.

    “Wisconsin has a strong tradition in biotechnology, and this cell lab will give our students the opportunity to explore this rapidly developing technology right here at Lakeland.”
  • Lakeland students explore Belize
    Ten Lakeland College students recently returned from Belize, Central America, where they traveled for the bi-annual BIO 400 Tropical Biology course.

    “When you encounter such rich biodiversity in person, you really can’t describe how incredible it is,” said Paul Pickhardt, Lakeland associate professor of biology.

    The students who took on the 15-day excursion were: Brook Bignell, Nicole Cox, Jamie Gundlach, Brandy Hahn, Madison Hull, Chad Larson, Abbie Mason, Natasha Robinson, Emily Thomas and Andrew Wagner.

    For more on this incredible trip, check out the feature article recently published in the Sheboygan Press.

    This was the fifth time since 2008 Pickhardt has led a May term trip to Belize. Greg Smith, professor of biology, co-led the group, which spent about 10 days in a lowland tropical rainforest and three days on a barrier island. In the rainforest and throughout the course, the students saw howler monkeys, kinkajous, coatimundis, dozens of species of bird (including toucans), a tapir, a crocodile and many snakes and lizards.

    Snorkeling and boating off the island, the Lakeland group spotted loggerhead turtles, dolphins, eagle rays, barracudas, squid, jelly fish, giant rock lobsters and more.

    The students spent two days in a Mayan village, where they stayed with host families, and enjoyed the crystal clear, spring-fed Golden Stream.

    “When you’re standing in water that’s over your head, you can look down and see your toenails,” Pickhardt said.

    As thrilling as those and other discoveries were, the trip was, at times, grueling. Pickhardt said it only rained once while they stayed in the rainforest, and temperatures were stifling – in the mid-90s with high humidity. The group walked 10-15 miles some days.

    Upon their return to Wisconsin, the students presented on their hours of extensive research.

    Robinson, Thomas and Wagner researched the effect that Neem plant extract has on animals eating native limes, local bananas and tropical apples.

    Hahn and Larson studied the decomposition rates of cohune palm nut clusters that fall to the ground, comparing and contrasting the decomposition rate near the river, near a swamp and in the forest’s interior.

    Bignell, Gundlach and Mason studied sapling cohune palm leaves, and whether the amount of sunlight they receive affects the size of the leaves.

    And Cox and Hull studied insect and animal consumption of cacao (the tree that produces chocolate) leaves in an under-canopy cacao farm in the rainforest.

    “When you see it, taste it, smell it, walk through the amazing amount of life forms these tropics offer, it’s all so in your face, there’s so much that’s new and different,” Pickhardt said.

    “It’s incredibly rewarding to see the students experience that. It’s life changing for them.”
  • Enjoying England
    Nine Lakeland College students are in the midst of a nearly two-week adventure in England, where they will study Great Britain’s sports history and culture up close.

    The students – Afton Barrows, Sarah Dahm, Crystal Dickman, Gage Hackl, Nathan Miller, Eric Nygaard, Tyler Schaut, Amber Sitte and Brooke Wilder-Corrigan – are enrolled in “The Class History of British Sports May 2016,” a May Term class being taught by Rick Dodgson, associate professor of history and native of Great Britain.

    Prior to flying to England last week, the students learned about sports like cricket, and even practiced the game on the Old Main lawn.

    Though the subject matter of this class is sports-heavy, students are also taking a “Beatles Tour,” enjoying a circus and visiting the Lancaster Castle and Museum and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

    The sports-related facets of the trip are exciting and diverse. The Lakeland group will attend a rugby match between the Wigan and Hull, tour the world-famous Lytham St. Annes golf course and watch green bowling, cricket and horse racing.

    But perhaps the highlight of the trip was the Premier League soccer match between Everton FC and Norwich City on Sunday. The Lakeland contingent met Everton keeper Tim Howard, the acclaimed former United States national team star.
  • Lakeland students become teachers
    More than 40 Sheboygan Falls High School students recently spent half-a-day at Lakeland College, working with top Lakeland students and learning how to cut, splice and manipulate DNA.

    The high school students, enrolled in Lakeland’s Concurrent Academic Progress Program (CAPP) life sciences class, conducted agarose gel electrophoresis.

    Learning from and working with standout Lakeland students Addison Mertler, C.J. Mueller, Emily Thomas and Brooke Wilder-Corrigan, the Falls students isolated DNA from bacterial cells, cut that DNA using enzymes, and visualized the resulting DNA fragments on a gel.

    “The feedback I’ve received from my students is that they had an incredible, invaluable experience at Lakeland College,” said Pamela Salm, who teaches the Falls CAPP class. “They had a wonderful time using equipment in a college laboratory setting with college professors and college students helping them. They were very excited about the experience.”

    After lunch, before viewing the gels, the Falls students chose two of four 15-minute informational sessions – computer science and robotics, mammalian cell culture, exercise science research or ecology research in Wisconsin and Belize.

    “This group was very hard-working, engaged and fun to work with,” said Greg Smith, Lakeland professor of biology, of the high school visitors. “Their love and enthusiasm for science was outstanding, and it was exciting and fun to be able to share our equipment and knowledge with them.”

    Smith said when the high school students viewed their brightly orange-lit DNA gel samples, they were excited.

    “Teachers live for that moment,” Smith said. “You hear them talking about how cool it is, and it’s really satisfying to hear them discuss amongst themselves what they’ve just accomplished as they’re walking away.”

    Smith was proud of Mertler, Mueller, Thomas and Wilder-Corrigan, who took the lead in teaching the high school students how to conduct the complex experimentation and use Lakeland’s sophisticated scientific equipment.

    “I think high school students can see themselves in our students, who are only a few years older than they are,” Smith said. “The high school students really seem to relate to our outstanding students, and maybe they even think, ‘I want to be like that.’”
More in this category: Thanksgiving in Luxembourg »
Lakeland College Logo

Contact Us

Got questions or comments? Let us know:

  • PHONE: 1 (800) 569-2166
    FAX: 920-565-1062
  • MAIL: W3718 South Drive, Plymouth, WI 53073-4878 | Directions

Connect with us

Follow us & get in touch.

You are here: Home Scott Niederjohn Blog Why Luxembourg?