Friday, August 2, 2013

Final Paper




  1. ABSTRACT
STEM, in the United States, is an acronym that stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” Modern-day technology has made it such that, in this day and age in developed countries, it is the norm method of staying updated and interacting with other people. In addition, today’s job market in Europe consists of a growing number of STEM related jobs in several countries. As a result of technology’s wide and growing influence, it follows that naturally part of how people learn about their own countries and, consequently, themselves is through what they hear and see in the media.  In this joint research effort, we will explore the narrative as to how technology is shaping a part of youth education as well as how it is being used to express the issue of unemployment.

Sonja’s focus lies in the choice of major of young students who are growing up in the midst of this economic crisis. Specifically, her interest evolved in STEM education and how government policies and the school system may or may not be encouraging students to study the STEM fields, and how these policies are being felt by students and teachers.

Kira will investigate how students and educations interact, focusing on the purpose of an education in light of the Eurozone crisis. Perspectives of students will be compared with those of institutions to identify any conflicts or incongruities.

In her research, Jessica will present an analysis of social media’s role in educating the public about unemployment in the Eurozone and the collaboration of nations in an attempt to combat rising unemployment rates. More specifically, she will attempt gauge the public in Berlin and León’s awareness of the recent collaboration between Germany and Spain to help promote jobs for youth. In addition, she will analyze how this topic in the news is being perceived by people in both Germany and Spain in an attempt to see if people in either country identify strongly with nationalistic views for their own country. With the recent collaboration between Germany and Spain to help provide Spaniards with access German jobs and job training questions have risen as to whether this agreement would actually help Spaniards and Germans. One of the conflicts surrounding this agreement is that some tend to see the German education system as inherently “German,” and so the fact Spaniards are going abroad to learn German skills presents itself as a potential threat to the preservation of Spanish culture. Of course, there remains the question as to what constitutes the culture, or “national identity,” in each of the regions in the first place, which is arguably a still widely contested concept.

  1. QUESTION
How does the economy affect how students perceive the purpose of a university education? Does this perception have an effect on the skills the university provides?

With the economic crisis putting stress on the job market, students are under pressure to plan for the futures as soon as possible. One of the biggest decisions faced is choosing a career path. I am interested in investigating the relationship between institutions and the individuals they serve. This includes finding out if any changes have been made in the expectations placed on Universities and/or students and if there is a correlation between their interactions and the ability of youth to enter the work force following their education. I am also interested in seeing if there is a discrepancy between what students wants from their education and what the education system wants to provide. Although, I was initially interested in all educational paths (university, technical school, vocational training, etc.), the resources and time available caused me focus more on university students. This restricts my research some, since university students already have made choices that lead them down the same path and are less of a diverse group. However, it is a more manageable investigation for the program.

  1. BACKGROUND  
The current economic crisis is one that is not restricted by borders. It is felt in many cases around the world. The Eurozone crisis, however, is slightly different as it affects the countries within the European Union using the same monetary unit but with different economic situations. The main problems are high debt in some member countries, weak banks, high unemployment in some countries, and trade imbalances [1].  This paper will be focusing on youth unemployment (usually defined as 26 years old and younger), but it is import to understand that the economy is multi-faceted.
            I. Unemployment
Germany currently has one of the strongest economies in the EU, while Spain has one of the weakest. The youth unemployment rates reflect this fact quite well. In general, youth unemployment in the EU skyrocketed in late 2008, and then again in 2011, resulting in almost twice the rate in the past five years. As of 2012, Germany had an overall rate of 5.5% and youth rate of 8.1%. Meanwhile, Spain was at 25.0% overall and 53.2% for youth, though this has since risen towards 60%. [2]
Given the vastly different rates in these two countries, it is clear that there must be one or more major differences contributing to the situation. Education is the foundation for society to grow upon, so is a clear place to begin investigating. I looked at the structure of the education systems in Germany and Spain, and considered the various viewpoints on the end goals of education in order to have the knowledge to analyze the current issues.
            II. Theoretical Background
The purpose of education can be viewed in many ways, often fitting with a person’s larger ideologies. For example, some people believe that education is meant to prepare children for work, other to teach them how to learn, and some believe education is about integrating into society. The mainly theories applied can be narrowed down to structural functionalist theory, conflict theory, and interactionist theory. Functionalist theory would consider the main purpose of education to be binding society together. This is achieved through socializing children, passing on culture and values, and deciding their proper role in society as an adult. Conflict theory is based on the works of Karl Marx and places education is a perspective revolving around class dominance. The main idea is that education is meant to create an obedient society in order to maintain the capitalist social order. This is accomplished by teaching youth to follow the orders of authority figures and become used to a system based on competition with peers. Both Functionalist and conflict theories use meritocracy, or the idea that those who work the hardest will have the best rewards. On the other hand, symbolic interactionism places more importance on the individual, and less on the larger society. It views school as a source of interactions that can shape an individual and their beliefs about self and society. These ideologies are personal, but can influence the development of an educational system as well as the attitudes that a society has as a whole. [3]
The role of universities has changed throughout time as well. Originally created to bring together the best researchers and academics, a university education was limited to only a small number of highly qualified students. However, they have evolved over time so that the focus is split between research and teaching, with attempts to be accessible to a wider population. Recently, a variety of university presidents and deans were asked to give their opinions on what college is for. Through their answers highlight many different aspects of education, they all carry the message that the purpose is “to teach students how to learn, how to find information, and how to work collaboratively across disciplines and cultures” so that students have the flexibility to purpose many professions [4].

III. Education Structures
The German education system is different from both the American system I am accustomed to and the system used in Spain. It is under the control of the state rather than federal government, o there are regional variations, but the general structure is the same.  After 4 years of general education, students attend one of three types of schools, a decision made in part by parents with the referral of teachers. The Hauptschule, a five year program, is designed to prepare students to enter the work force or vocational training. The Realschule typically leads to vocational or job specific training after six years. The Gymnasium is the most difficult of the three options, taking up to nine years, and prepares students for university. Additionally, Germany has a dual education system that combines traditional learning with apprenticeship positions. Students in this program will spend the last years of the high school education splitting their weeks between practical experience and classroom time. There are usually more than 400,000 positions available annually and many go unfilled. Approximately 60% of German students will choose a path like this [5].

The Spanish education system has more connections with the Catholic Church than the systems in either the U.S. or Germany. Most schools are public, but there are many private schools and semi-private schools. The latter types are typically religious which is why they are not entirely funded by the state. Education in Spain is mandatory until the age of 16, when students have completed the first two years of high school. The next two years make up the Bachillerato and are the preparation for university exams. Students will choose to focus on Arts, Letters, Social Science, or Pure Science based on their interests. The scores following these two years will determine whether they can attend university and what they are qualified to study [6].

            IV. Fields of Study

In order to have an overview of higher education, I compared at the percentages of students in different fields of study in Germany, Spain and the United States [2]. I wondered if there was any obvious relation between the distribution of students and unemployment, such as the majority of students studying the same field and therefore competing for the same jobs. The statistics did not have any immediately surprising results; the general popularity of each choice is similar in all countries. However, it was interesting to see the more dramatic differences in Spain between “Science, math & computing” and “Engineering, manufacturing & construction.” The two are about 2% different in Germany and the US, but 8% in Spain. This would indicate that there is some influence that is Unique to Spain.
Students in Tertiary Education, 2010

 
Total number of students in tertiary education (1000)
Of which, studying (%)
Humanities & arts
Social sciences, business & law
Science, math & computing
Engin., manuf. & construction
Agricul. & veterinary
Health & welfare
Services
Germany*
2,556
13.7
26.2
14.2
16.4
1.4
17.9
2.8
Spain
1,879
10.6
31.4
9.1
17.3
1.7
12.6
5.8
United States
20,426
15.1
27.7
8.6
7.2
0.7
14.6
6.2
*Excludes students enrolled at ISCED 6.

  1. Methodology
I used a combination of research methods, primarily surveys and interviews, as well as gathering information through personal observation and from various guest lectures and texts. Each method has strengths, but all were limited by the time constraints of the program.
            I. Lectures
The guest lecturers who visited us throughout the program had varying levels of relevance for my topic. For the topics that were directly related, the speakers provided an expert opinion focused specifically on one issue which help fill in may details for my research. However, sometimes the guests did not have the information to answer the questions posed as their field was too narrow.  Many of the topics were not related at all but the speaker would say one or two things that would cause me to reconsider the framework for my question.
            II. Survey
As a group, we were able to collectively write an anonymous survey that touched upon various aspects of our research. The surveys were not created until we had already sent some time gathering information in order to better select the most important questions to ask. This survey was double-sided, consisting of 9 questions printed in both English and either German or Spanish, for use in Germany and Spain respectively.  The questions asked students to give a ranking, select the best answer, or write a short answer. The surveys were passed out to classes at Humboldt University in Berlin and the University of Leon’s Language Center. The benefits of a mass survey are that we were able to collect a larger sample size and written questions do not rely on the ability to communicate verbal in various languages. However, the samples are not a balances representation of the youth in either country. In Germany the students mostly in American Studies, which requires competency in English and the students in Spain were mainly studying the English language. Therefore, we have a limited perspective of only English speaking youth, enrolled in high education and living in either Berlin or Leon.

It is also important to consider the biases that the students themselves may hold. First, the survey asked them to give reasons for choices they made in the past. Their narrative may be adjusted to put their past and present in a positive light. Additionally, socially desirability may have affected the students’ answers either consciously or subconsciously. It has been found that unpleasant or embarrassing fats tend to be underreported, while ideal behaviors are over-reported [7]. In this case, there is a change that students under reported the influence that job prospects had on their decisions, thinking they will make a better appearance by stating that they are following their interests. Since the survey was written, it had a higher level of anonymity than face to face surveys, which should minimize the effect of social desirability bias [7].
            III. Interviews
My final method was interviews. I spoke with a variety of people, including professors, students and guest speakers, getting many unique perspectives. These interviews were loosely structured; I would ask about their personal experiences with education and see what they elaborated on. I would then ask more specific questions to clarify points they made or refocus the conversation to my topic if necessary. The interviews have the benefit of being detailed and personalized to the person’s experiences. However, I did not interview a large number, or a particularly varied group, so there may be some incongruity between my findings and the opinions of society as a whole.

5.      Findings  
Comparing the perspectives of students, teachers, and others involved in the education system revealed the relationships in each country. Some information was given directly by the source, while some can be drawn out by combining new information with background information.
I. Germany
In Germany, I spoke with a university professor about his experiences as an educator as well as those of a parent of a young adult [8]. He explained that while students are in secondary school (his experience is with the gymnasium in particular), students work very hard to prepare for university exams. There are a series of examinations, both oral and written, that determine whether they are able to enter a university. The topics of focus are chosen by the students; some focus on math and sciences, while other focus on humanities or social sciences. He felt that his child was well prepared by the system to enter university, noting that she is doing quite well in her studies so far.

He then spoke more about his job and expectations as a professor. As a faculty member in a social science field, he feels that his priority is to prepare students to enter the intellectual side of their degree program. They study theory and learn how to develop their own ideas and present them to the class. There is no focus on training students for the work force, unless they intend to enter academics.

The opinions of a professor only tell half of the story; it is necessary to get the perspective of a student as well. I was able to speak with a graduate from the same university, and in fact from the same department as the professor. This student was unemployed for about a year following graduation, then worked at the Job Center in Berlin, before settling into his current job [9]. He explained that it was initially hard for him to accept that he was unemployed, but felt that the main reason was because the jobs available did not fit his expectations, not that there weren’t jobs at all. When asked if his university had helped him prepare for the working world, he seemed surprised. He then elaborated that the university career center offered seminars and classes on topics like interviews and writing a resume and that every student was required to attend a certain number of these during their time at university.
II. Spain
In Spain, I spoke to teachers from different levels of the education system. They included a preschool teacher, a middle school technology teacher, and a few university language professors. Most enlightening was the technology teacher. She had a degree in industrial and systems engineering and had returned to the Leon language center in order to earn certification for bilingual classrooms. She told me that there was a higher demand for “useful” subjects in schools now as parents want their children to have a good future [10]. However, the crisis has also caused cutbacks in the education budget and put a financial strain on the system. The university professors also noticed an increase in popularity for classes in which there are applications for the knowledge, such as foreign languages and programming. 

In addition to Spanish educators, I was able to interview university students in Leon. They were all taking either English or German classes. One young male said that he was currently unemployed, with a degree in videogame design, and was studying English in order to expand his job prospects in the field [11]. He reported that the career services at universities are available for students who are interested. However, he felt that while they could help create a strong resume, there is no way to create offers when the jobs just aren’t available.

III. Survey Results
The surveyed students came from a variety of backgrounds according to their survey responses. However, with such a limited sample, it is not possible to see connections between the survey answers and demographics such as age or gender. There was one survey question directly related to my question. The question read:
In your opinion, what is the purpose of a university? (Rank in order of importance)

Job preparation
Personal Development
Prestige
Other: ______
Of the surveys returned, I was able to draw data from 32 German students and 27 Spanish students. The graph below shows the percentage that selected each category as the most important function of a university.


 

The results were dramatically different with the majority in Spain choosing job preparation while the common answer in Germany was personal development. Given that the sample sizes were relatively small and do not represent a variety of students (almost all German students were females in American Studies, in Spain they were all language students), this result cannot be considered definitive. The responses from Germany fit with the idea that universities are need to create life-longer learners, while Spain indicates a job oriented attitude. There are a few possible explanations for these numbers. There could be a fundamental difference in the sample of students and/or the culture of the two countries, but it is more likely reflective of the economic crisis. Since Germany’s youth unemployment is low, the students have time and energy to focus on other aspect of their education. In Spain, the need for jobs is much higher and is therefore a priority to many students.  

  1. Conclusion
With the time constraints of the study abroad program, it is difficult to draw any broad conclusions. The data shows that in Spain, there is a stronger focus on jobs. Given that their economy is currently not as strong as it is in Germany, this makes sense. Looking back at the three theories behind education, arguments could be made for all theories. In my opinion, Germany and Spain both are following conflict theory principles. Looking at their education structures, children are sorted into their societal roles during elementary or primary choosing when they must decide which professional path to follow. This determines early on which class most people will be able to end up since there is not much movement between students in the various secondary systems. However, it seems that the students in both countries view their education differently. The German students surveyed and interviewed believed in personal development and learning, focusing on their own interests. This would fit more with the theory of symbolic interactionism since there is more focus on the individual. Meanwhile, Spain seems to be transitioning to a functionalist theory ideology, though it is not necessarily what the education system is currently providing. The desire to be prepared for jobs and have a cohesive society reflect this, though the fact that unemployment is high suggests it is not working perfectly by any means.

Following this study, it would be interesting to continue to follow the education systems in these countries, particularly Spain and others suffering most from the Eurozone Crisis, to see if there are any changes made to attempt to combat youth unemployment. Form the research done on STEM education and the new agreement between Spain and Germany, there may be new opportunities for students entering STEM fields if they are properly prepared by schools.

  1. REFERENCES
 [1] United States of America. Congressional Research Service. The Eurozone Crisis: Overview and Issues for. By Rebecca M. Nelson, Paul Belkin, Derek E. Mix, and Martin A. Weiss. N.p., 26 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 July 2013. <http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R42377.pdf>.
[2] Eurostat. European Commission, May 2013. Web. 20 July 2013.  <http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/>.

[3] "Education Overview." Web log post. Sociology at Twynham. Twynham School, 2013. Web. 15 July 2013. http://sociologytwynham.com/.
[4] Wise, Phyllis M., Carolyn A. Martin, Walter M. Kinbrough, John C. Hitt, Charles G. Lief, Michael V. Drake, Brenda Hellyer, William Pepicello, and Joseph R. Urgo. "What Is College For?" Editorial. The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 July 2013. <http://chronicle.com/article/What-Is-College-For-/138683/>.
[5] Carroll, Caitlan. "Germany's Dual Vocational Education System - Young Germany." Young Germany. Societäts-Medien GmbH, 18 July 2013. Web. 22 July 2013. http://www.young-germany.de/topic/study/courses-degrees/germanys-dual-vocational-education-system.
[6] "Spain - Educational System—overview." State University. Net Industries, 2013. Web. 28 July 2013.
[7] Kaminska, Olena, and Tom Foulsham. "Understanding Sources of Social Desirability Bias in Different Modes: Evidence from Eye Tracking." 2013.
[8] "Humboldt University Professor." Personal interview. 28 June 2013. [9]"Student in Germany." Personal interview. 29 June 2013.
[10] "Technology Teacher in Spain." Personal interview. 16 July 2013.
[11] "English Student in Spain." Personal interview. 17 July 2013.


  1. CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
Entering this study abroad program, I was unsure what to expect, both educationally and personally as we travelled together. My question of interest was not fully formed upon finishing the spring prep seminar and it constantly changed and time progressed. The language barriers also complicated things; I was constantly both impressed and humbled by the supposedly “poor” English spoken by our guests. As a student, it is important that I understand my own role in society and make the best choices for myself. Unemployment is something I plan to avoid, but that is true of the many unemployed youth today as well. Our world is continually becoming smaller as technology makes distance arbitrary. There really is no such thing as a problem that only effects on region, especially the youth are playing a crucial role. Our future is a shared one so everyone has an equal stake in development of global society, education, and the economy.

Aside from the academic aspect of this program, I learned a lot about myself and the world. There are so many things I have not done and I tried to experience as much as possible while on this trip. All of the museums, historical locations, and culture landmarks expanded my knowledge of Europe greatly. Probably even more impactful, experience the culture and daily life in both Berlin and Spain taught me how to adapt to unexpected situations and be open to all kinds of lifestyles. I met so many interesting people and made many bonds with my peers. I feel that I have become more adventurous and outgoing over the last five weeks by spending time with students I would not have met at the UW otherwise. I am looking forward to seeing where life takes me, eager to maintain these new relationships and allow new ones to form once returns to Seattle.
 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interview Assignment


I was initially apprehensive about the idea of interviewing strangers about my topic. I am not all that comfortable approaching people and initiating conversations. However, the first two were actually pretty simple once started and the third ended up going smoothly as well.

Person 1: Student
Finding a student to speak with was very easy. Jessica, Sonja, and I were approached when we passed out surveys to an English class at the Language Center and were able to speak at length about our projects. Our student was in her upper twenties, returning for summer classes in English only. She had previously received a degree in industrial engineering and is currently teaching technology to 11-13 year olds. She was already set in here educational path by the time the crisis really took effect and is fortunate to be employed, but many of her peers are not so lucky. She said that here choice of majors was based on her skills in math and science, not the job prospects but that many current students are now deciding to choose their education based on what they believe will provide a job. It was also interesting to hear her insight on primary education and how technology, English, and often a third language are now compulsory for all students at an early age.

Person 2: Family
My second interview was also with a student from the Language Center who is a teacher and has returned to school for English. However, she is also married and has a family of her own as well as teaching children who are 3 or 4 years old. She was very concerned about what her children and students will have for opportunities, expressing that she personally loves Spain and finds it unsettling that so many people are leaving. She felt that the problem was large the fault of the government for not making sure the people have what they need here.

 Person 3: Elderly
This person was the hardest to interview for a few reasons. First, it was significantly harder to approach someone when it wasn’t clear how my topic is relevant to them. Also, the language barrier was more difficult to overcome since the interview would rely more on my Spanish skills. I approached someone in the park near the Language Center, and though they were friendly, I could only understand parts of what he told me. He was retired and his school experience was much different that the current structure, especially in regards to the technological advances. He was concerned about the economy in general and seemed to sympathize with the young generations struggling to find work. However, he did indicate that there was some responsibility on the youth to put more effort into their futures.

None of interviews were surprising; they mainly confirmed what my research so far has told me. It was interesting to directly compare the three types though and see some of the subtle differences in their opinions.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Auf wiedersehen Germany! Hola Spain!


After two weeks in Berlin, it is time to say goodbye to the city. So much has happened since I arrived, dazed and jetlagged to Die Fabrik and was overwhelmed by the chaos of the city (and the warm welcome Tarra and I received from our dishonest cab driver!). The culture was definitely different than back home, with many people smoking and drinking all over the place. I think it could be described as organized chaos because while the rules weren’t usually posted and roads were often without signs, everyone knew what to do in order to function as a society.  It has been great getting to know the rest of the group, eating meals together and exploring Kreuzberg, and we have so far managed to handle being together all the time.

My favorite “tourist” thing in Berlin was by far the Reichstag. The building was a perfect mix of old and new; commemorating the buildings history with the preserved soviet inscriptions but also fitting the needs of a modern government. It was such an open atmosphere; allowing visitors to see into many official rooms literally touch the parliament’s agendas and bills.

As far as research for our projects, the most enjoyable for me was attending Professor Isensee’s lectures. My group got a bunch of student surveys and I was able to get his perspective on the education system as both a teacher and a parent. So far it seems that the German education system is functioning well, a possible reason for their strong economy. Students have multiple options for college and vocational training, plus Humboldt has mandatory career center classes for every student.

The days seemed to fly by, but I know they will stay with us all forever. After one night in the heat of Madrid, I miss the comforts of Die Fabrik, but I’m also very excited to experience Spain!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp


Today we visited Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp outside of Berlin. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and I learned a lot of details about how the camp operated as well as the time period in general. This camp had mostly male prisoners and was considered a “model” camp because many high ranking Nazis worked from the area. I was actually surprised by the barracks. I initially expected one or two large buildings with thousands of prisoners each, though there was actually about 70, all housing about 150 men. Obviously this isn’t any better, but simply different than I expected. The entire experience was somber, but by the time we reached the former crematorium and gas chambers, I was very unsettled even being near them. It is sickening to think of how badly the guards were able to stand treating their victims. However, I did not agree with some of the punishments given following the liberation of the camp either. Specifically the one man our guide mentioned who was a prisoner himself and forced to murder. I do not know what was going through his mind, but his 33 year prison sentence for war crimes seems too extreme considering he was also a victim.

Deciding what parts of history to remember, and how to commemorate them is difficult. It is crucial that the stories and lesson never finish being told, but there also must be a limit. For example, some of the group was discussing the private houses on the streets near the camp. We learned that many housed members of the SS during the war. Many people think it would be too weird to live there, which I agree with, but there seemed to also be the sentiment that it makes the people living there have a bad character. I imagine that these buildings were badly damaged during the war, or looted following liberation, and have been greatly reconstructed. It is not as if the people are living the same way the SS did. Also, if these houses are torn down or left empty, then the next houses over would be the closest and seem tainted in the same way. It is important not to forget, but it is equally important to move forward.

Reichstag und Bundestag


Our visit to the Reichstag was amazing. The building is gorgeous on the outside and the inside, a perfect mix of old and new. After being cleared by security and passing through the redundant two doors, we waited for our tour guide in the same room where various policy makers wait! Our tour guide was great; she told us a lot of information but was funny at the same time, unlike the one who shushed us while we waited. I loved the Soviet inscriptions that have been preserved and the art installations throughout the building. The tour was gave us a close look at the German parliament. Surprisingly, it was very relaxed. We were even shown the agendas and various bills being discussed the next day. We finished with a walk up the dome and despite the rainy weather, the view was spectacular.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Palace of Tears


From the outside, the Tränenpalast is underwhelming. It not a palace as the name implies, but a simple glass building tucked between busy stores and a U-Bahn station. After depositing my belongings in the lockers, I joined the other visitors, mainly older tourists or groups of students, walking through the exhibition. I read about the when the building was constructed and how it was used as a gate between East Berlin and West Berlin, stood in the narrow passage used for border control and watched footage of a typical day at the station. It is still difficult for me to process how recently the division took place, probably because it open a few years before I was born. It became a lot more real as I watched short videos of a dozen or so people telling their stories. From teenagers who escaped to the West and never saw their family members again, to lovers separated by the wall, to stories of former child refugees returning to the East after reunification, the narratives were quite interesting. However, I noticed that many of the younger visitors to the exhibit seem less than captivated as they glanced through displays. I assume that they feel similar to me, having not existed during this time. It’s a reality that is beyond our imaginations but it is also crucial to learn from the past. I hope that the Palace of Tears can continue telling its story for many generations.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Research Proposal Draft

PROJECT PROPOSAL
Social Media and Technology in the Education of Youth in Germany and Spain
ABSTRACT
Modern-day technology has made it such that, in this day and age in developed countries, it is the norm method of staying updated and interacting with other people. As a result of technology’s wide and growing influence, it follows that naturally part of how people learn about their own countries and, consequently, themselves is through what they hear and see in the media. In this joint research effort, we will explore the narrative as to how social media and technology are becoming a part of youth education as well as how it is being used to express the issue of unemployment.
In her research, Jessica will present an analysis of social media’s role in educating the public about the unemployment issue and the collaboration of nations in the Eurozone in an attempt to combat rising unemployment rates. In addition, she will analyze how social media are being perceived by the public and how they may be altering people’s sense of nationalism and culture. With the recent collaboration between Germany and Spain to help provide Spaniards with access German jobs and job training [1], questions have risen as to whether or not the jobs and the dual vocational system used in Germany are purely “German” and are therefore foreign to the Spanish. Some tend to see the German education system as a part of German culture, and the fact Spaniards are going abroad to learn German skills a potential threat to the preservation of Spanish culture. Of course, there remains the question as to what constitutes the culture in each of the regions in the first place, which is arguably a still widely contested concept.
Sonja will look into how social media and other factors affect how the youth of both Spain and Germany perceive their educational systems and how it influences their higher education and career choices. In light of the recent agreement between Spain and Germany to send 5,000 Spanish workers to fill Germany’s job demand, Sonja will also explore the role of education in youth national identity.
Kira will investigate how the education system is responding to the pressures created by the influences of social media and the youth. She will try and determine what factors are helping reduce unemployment by speaking to educators and students as well as what cultural differences limit an effective system from being implemented in other countries.


Jessica - “Youth Education of Unemployment from Popular Video Media”
BACKGROUND
Both Germany and Spain have had conflicting perceptions among themselves as to what constitutes as part of their nationality and cultural identity. For both, the problems are rooted in their histories. In Germany, historically the largest roadblock for cultural unity has been the fact they were once split into East and West Germany. Reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall has been a rocky transition as suggested by conflicting views as to whether or not to preserve the wall or completely demolish it after the fall of East Germany [1]. In addition, the more recent increasing population of minority ethnicities in Germany has brought up questions as to whether or not they should be able to apply for German citizenship and can be considered “German” [2]. For Spain, the issue with identity has risen from purposely trying to ignore the past. The consequences of the latest Spanish Civil War include the approval of the Amnesty Law in 1977, with publicly condemned those who identify with the losing side of the war from speaking about the events in the civil war. [3]. As a result, Spanish history is often taught with a gap where the Spanish Civil War would be and with lots of variations all over the country. Without a common history and cultural identity to relate to, the country has more or less split into many different smaller groups within the larger country [4]. Recently however, one thing that has helped to bring the people in each country together is the declining economy. Organized protests in Spain have been ongoing for a while now, and most of them are people coming together in order to protest against their current government [5].
On May 21st, 2013, Spanish Prime Minister for Employment and Social Security, Fátima Báñez, and German Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Ursula Von der Leyen, met in Madrid and signed an agreement that allows the following: up to about 5,000 young Spaniards a year may gain access to the labor market via either entering the German dual vocational training program or taking a German job opening. In addition, both German and Spanish youth will have more support from both governments to find work abroad in either country [6]. The idea behind this is that, because the labor markets of the two countries are already quite integrated as is, the two countries would work together at their common goal to lower youth unemployment and do so via partnership where the two governments will work closely together to coordinate and exchange information. However, because this is a plan that ultimately promotes the immigration of Spaniards into Germany, national ties become an important issue as the two countries will find themselves more closely tied to each other.
The main question to research here is how the concept of nationality would likely have to change and come to redefine itself in each country as they are starting to be directly juxtaposed against each other. Because of the modern prevalence of technology and social media, one way to study the way these perceptions are changing and being perceived is via studying popular video media in each country. In application of this research to other parts of the world, the role of technology in creating the definition of a nation or nationalism are not unique to Spain and Germany, and this research could help us to understand the development of these things in other countries as well. For me personally, my interest in how technology and social media can change viewers’ perceptions of a certain topic or event in the news is because the media is everywhere in our day to day lives and constantly telling us inevitably biased points of view. How what the media conveys can alter a people’s view of what is going on in the rest of their nation and how they relate to their perceived notion of nationalism as a whole, which is why I chose media, and specifically video media for its directness in getting a message to viewers, as my medium to study.
QUESTION
How is popular video media about the current youth unemployment issue being perceived by the general public in the respective countries? In the context of the recent collaboration between the German and Spanish to increase the number of jobs for youth, how is what these people see in the media about what is going on in other parts of their own country informing them about their nation’s identity and, possibly, their own nationality as either “German” or “Spanish”? How is this perception in the media affecting youth and how they come to view their countries and themselves as citizens?
CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
My bias in this project is that, living in the United States, I have limited knowledge of both German and Spanish culture. I may bring over opinions or perceptions on things that do not match up with the local understanding of the same thing. I know I have my own ideas of what I think of when I think of nationalism and being a citizen to one’s country, and when exploring this idea in European countries I have to be careful to not judge them by my own standards and rather to learn from their point of views what they think each of these things are. In addition, I make the assumption that technology and social media are perceived in more or less the same way among youth in Germany and Spain compared to youth in the States, but in actuality I have no idea what their use of the media nor reactions to things they see on the Internet are.
DAILY SCHEDULE (tentative and still in progress of development)
For both Germany and Spain, I will have to spend time familiarizing myself with the local popular media sources with a focus on where video media. I intend to select a sample of video clips and host viewings of them to people in each country and collect their responses to what they see. These will either be in the form of written or recorded interviews. I plan to do maybe 2 or 3 of these kinds of showings in each country.
In addition to this, I might plan to keep a close on the local news channels on TV in each place and analyze what sorts of media is portrayed in the news. I don’t know how feasible it would be for me to then ask people who have seen the news and interview them for their opinions.
Equipment that I would need:
· Some sort of space where I could host video clip showings
· Video camera of my own to record facial responses and/or voice recorder for interviews
· A laptop computer that can play the videos
· A projector or screen to hook my laptop to
· Paper and pen for notes
REFERENCES
1. Ladd, Brian. "Berlin Walls." The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1997. 7-40. Print.
2. Poggioli, Sylvia. "German Minorities Still Fight to Be Seen, Heard." NPR. NPR, 12 Jan. 2009. Web. 02 June 2013. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99189265>.
3. Tremlett, Giles. "Secretos a Voces." Ghosts of Spain: Travels through Spain and Its Silent past. New York: Walker &, 2007. 17-42. Print.
4. Tremlett, Giles. "Introduction: The Edge Oa Barber's Razor." Introduction. Ghosts of Spain: Travels through Spain and Its Silent past. New York: Walker &, 2007. 1-16. Print.
5. Spanish Protesters Surrounding Parliament. Prod. Jorge Berenguer. Dir. Rafa Gonzalez. YouTube. PressTV.com, 06 Jan. 2013. Web. 03 June 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5jMRl0m7_w>.
6. "Spain and Germany Sign Agreement to Promote Jobs for Young People." La Moncloa. [Government/News]. Gobierno De España, 21 May 2013. Web. 01 June 2013. <http://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/IDIOMAS/9/Gobierno/News/2013/20130521_Spain_Germany.htm>


Sonja
QUESTION
How does the current economical situation (as portrayed in the media/social media) in both Spain and Germany affect how the youth perceive education and how does it influence their higher education/career decisions? To what extent do factors such as government, family pressures, the economy, etc. affect what the youth in Spain and Germany decide to study?


I am interested in answering this question because I want to know whether the youth feel comfortable following an educational path based on their passions, or take other things into consideration such as the responsibility to positively contribute to society and job prospects. It will be interesting to compare and contrast the youth in Germany and Spain. Germany has a low unemployment rate due to the dual educational system they have, while Spain suffers from an educational imbalance leading to high unemployment rates. Does this compel the youth of Spain to go into fields (technology and engineering) that have a higher demand for workers? How are the Germans responding to the immigration of foreigners to fill jobs their native population cannot fulfill? How are the Spaniards responding to the possibility of slowly adopting Germany’s model of vocational education? This topic is relevant because of the national intermingling that will be caused by current changes being made by both governments in order to sustain their economies.


To supplement this question, I would like to also explore the resources that are available to students when making these decisions and how this has changed due to the current economic state. In Spain, the government has been making spending cuts to education. In Germany, foreign workers are being brought in to fill engineering job openings.


BACKGROUND
There are many aspects of the unemployment crisis in Spain. Spain has a problematic educational imbalance. The educational attainment of Spaniards is significantly lower than most of the rest of the EU, and this has caused the available jobs in Spain to require less skill on average. Education in Spain is only required until age 16, and many students drop out before then. This poses a problem for those who have completed graduate degrees, who are often overeducated for the jobs they hold because there are not enough high-skill jobs in Spain to accommodate the well educated. Spain has the highest rate of young workers working jobs they are overqualified for.
(http://www.bbvaresearch.com/KETD/fbin/mult/WP_1131_tcm348-270325.pdf). Spain has just made another round of cuts to education, which spurred protests by thousands of students and teachers. The reaction is partly cultural as support for languages is being cut, and Catalonians believe their youth will lose the ability to speak Catalan. Many Spaniards believe their education system needs reform, but not in this way (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2013/05/201359192955857931.html).
Spain has a comparatively high percentage of youth who live with their parents. This has been shown to have a direct correlation with youth unemployment because the option to live with parents serves as “unemployment insurance.” The high unemployment rate discourages people from looking for jobs because the prospects are very poor. Some choose more schooling as an alternative to work, but again the high unemployment rate directly reduces the probability of studying due to the discouraging effect of poor job prospects (http://e-archivo.uc3m.es/bitstream/10016/4755/2/decisions_ruiz-castillo_JPE_2002_ps.pdf).
Germany has a very low youth unemployment rate, and many attribute it to their dual vocational training system, where students attend school and work (apprenticeships) concurrently. After the first two years of compulsory secondary education, German students can opt to attend one of three types of higher secondary schools, and about 2/3 of the students that continue on to higher education complete a vocational training system. This system works because students already have work experience by the time they graduate and can therefore find a full time position with more ease (http://www.bbvaresearch.com/KETD/fbin/mult/WP_1131_tcm348-270325.pdf). In addition, Germany has a shortage of engineers and is looking outside of their country to fill engineering positions. In June of 2011 there were 76,400 vacant engineering jobs in Germany (http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/tech-careers/germany-faces-a-shortage-of-engineers).
Germany and Spain have signed an agreement that will send 5,000 Spaniards to Germany to complete apprenticeships. This agreement will benefit both countries as it attempts to help Spain’s youth unemployment issue and Germany’s lack of workers. About 50% of Spanish youth are unemployed, but there are currently 33,000 unfilled apprenticeships in Germany. (http://www.dw.de/germany-and-spain-launch-joint-youth-jobs-project/a-16827951).


CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
Personal decisions about life choices vary a lot from person to person and the cultural landscape of a country. Since I do not understand what it is like to live in Spain or Germany, I will have a bias when gathering information from students and it could cause me to be judgmental. In the United States it is encouraged for students to follow their passions and the social media has a relatively positive stance on education. This may not be the case in other countries and it will be difficult for me to relate to youth who have grown up with different ideologies.


DAILY SCHEDULE
PEOPLE: Manuela Mangold, people involved in M-15 movement (to get their views on policy changes), students
PLACES: Humbolt University, University of Leon
EQUIPMENT: Notebook, pens, surveys
INFORMATION: completed surveys, interview notes



REFERENCES
see links in background for now


Kira
QUESTION
How are the education systems in the Eurozone adapting to the needs of the economy, specifically in regards to preparing students for new and changing jobs in technology? What cultural factors affect how these changes are implemented?


BACKGROUND
Germany, Spain and the United States have unique education systems. The Spanish system functions similar to ours, but is only required until age 16. The last two years of secondary education are optional, with a choice of college preparation or vocation preparation. Germany however has a track system where the students are split at age ten and follow one of four paths leading to university, technical school, or the work force. Germany generally has higher expectations from students than Spain does, though both systems have critics.
According to Informatics Europe, an association of European computer science departments, 15 Germany institutions are involved in informatics/computer science research while only 4 in Spain are. Although Germany has a larger population, this still leads to twice as many informatics programs per capita. Despite having more programs, the German job market still has positions available in this industry. I cannot find statistics breaking down youth unemployment based on past/desired occupation, but I suspect that not many have the STEM skills to fill these jobs.
Germany has also been developing a dual system where student receive both traditional education and practical experience. I believe this system is mainly for universities and works like co-op programs in the United States. I would like to hear from education and students about how this program is working.I intend to interview students to see what they want from their education, professors/university staff to see what they think they need to be providing for students.


CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
As an American student, I need to be aware of any difference in how their education works. For example, in Germany many people will have apprenticeships while we have internships. I have to consider what they consider “success” and how they view different classes and professions.


DAILY SCHEDULE
I do not have a set schedule, but will try to visit the places and people listed as well as accompany Jessica and Sonja for related research.
People:
Manuela Mangold
students
professors/university staff
Places:
Humboldt University
University of Leon
Equipment:
notebook
Information to gather:
notes, interviews, statistics


REFERENCES
"Europe Failing to Combat Youth Unemployment." SPIEGEL ONLINE. N.p., 20 May 2013. Web. 02 June 2013. <http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/europe-failing-to-combat-youth-unemployment-a-900621.html>.
"Research & Education Directory." Informatics Europe. Informatics Europe, 2013. Web. 02 June 2013. <http://www.informatics-europe.org/services/research-education-directory.html>.
"The School System in Germany." UK German Connection. UK German Connection, n.d. Web. 02 June 2013. <http://www.ukgermanconnection.org/schools-german-education-system>.
"Spanish Education System." Fulbright Espana. US Department of State, n.d. Web. 02 June 2013. <http://fulbright.es/ver/spanish-education-system>.
Von Borstel, Stefan. "How Germany Beats The Youth Unemployment Trap." WorldCrunch. N.p., 02 May 2013. Web. 02 June 2013. <http://www.worldcrunch.com/opinion-analysis/how-germany-beats-the-youth-unemployment-trap/training-pact-opinion-unemployment-youth-jobless-labor-education/c7s11646/>.