Elizabeth Mittman, Associate Professor of German in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures at Michigan State University, is the 2023 recipient of the MSU Award for Outstanding Service to Education Abroad, which recognizes faculty and staff who give their time, energy, and creativity to the development and implementation of education abroad programs that support MSU’s commitment to providing students with high-quality international education opportunities.
Mittman currently serves as the Education Abroad Coordinator for the German Studies Program at MSU for which she oversees three distinct offerings for students to immerse themselves in German language and culture.
“Dr. Mittman has played a crucial role with students and has been pivotal in ensuring stability in the leadership and staffing of the German education abroad programs at MSU,” said Shawn Loewen, Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures, who nominated Mittman for the award. “Her sustained and substantial contribution to education abroad during her time at MSU has helped make the German program a leader for education abroad in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures.”
Mittman has led MSU’s six-week summer education program, German Language and Culture in Mayen, three times in the past decade and will be co-leading that program in Summer 2023 as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. Over its half-century history, this program has influenced the lives and careers of hundreds of students, giving them unique insights into the German language and culture through faculty-led instruction and the total immersion of living with host families in Mayen, Germany.
“Dr. Mittman has played a crucial role with students and has been pivotal in ensuring stability in the leadership and staffing of the German education abroad programs at MSU.”Dr. Shawn Loewen
“You want your students to go abroad and be immersed in another language and culture,” Mittman said. “They can connect with people they would never otherwise connect with and learn to see the world in a different way. You can’t teach that in textbooks. You can’t teach that in your classes. You can teach it abstractly, but it’s not the same.”
In 2006-2007, Mittman served as Academic Director of the Academic Year in Freiburg, a long-standing consortium program in which MSU participates along with several other Big Ten universities. This program is one of a relatively small number of year-long study abroad programs, offering a unique opportunity for long-term immersion in German language and culture. The program includes specially designed courses in language, culture, and literature along with German classes and courses in related fields offered at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität.
“Being a Global Spartan means embracing the diversity of our world with open curiosity and developing the transformative capacity to think differently about one’s own culture through meaningful engagement with other cultures, languages, and belief systems — whether in another country or right here on the East Lansing campus,” Mittman said.
Mittman’s primary research focus is East German and postsocialist studies. Additional research and teaching interests include film and visual culture, autobiography and life writing, memory culture, and gender studies.
“Being a Global Spartan means embracing the diversity of our world with open curiosity and developing the transformative capacity to think differently about one’s own culture through meaningful engagement with other cultures, languages, and belief systems.”Dr. Elizabeth Mittman
She currently is working on a book project on gender, voice, and the problem of authenticity in representations of the German Democratic Republic and has served on the editorial board of German Quarterly. She also has held leadership positions in the Coalition of Women in German and recently was elected to a three-year term as Great Lakes Regional Delegate to the Modern Language Association’s Delegate Assembly.
The MSU Award for Outstanding Service to Education Abroad was established in 2003 and is presented by MSU’s International Studies and Programs to increase the visibility of MSU faculty and staff who provide high-quality education abroad programs and services to Spartan students.
Mittman received her award and was recognized, along with the other 2023 International Awards recipients, during the International Awards Ceremony on April 5 at the MSUFCU Club at Spartan Stadium.
Written by Veronica Gracia-Wing and Kim Popiolek and based off the March 20, 2023, article published by International Studies and Programs