Both, the University of Leipzig and Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (USA), have cooperating since 1992. There exist lively connections in research and teaching, in the exchange of students and interns, and also in the administrative field. A number of faculties and university facilities participate in the partnership. To date, more than 600 students made use of the possibility to study for an extended period of time at the partner university.
The over 20 year-old academic relationship is not only an integral component of the academic exchange but also an impressive evidence of the transfer of knowledge between two continents as well as successful intercultural understanding. The historic roots can be traced back to the last third of the 19th century. In the 1880s, a group of young, engaged enthusiasts came to the University of Leipzig and its prestigious Institute for Experimental Psychology under Wilhelm Wundt. The group included two Americans – John Pancoast Gordy and James E. Le Rossignol. Both wrote their dissertations under Wundt and return to the United States taking up teaching assignments at Ohio University.
At the beginning of the 1990s, American universities begin to make connections with prestigious universities located in the former GDR. In June 1991, Ohio University officials travelled to East Germany to visit several universities. Leipzig presented itself to be the most promising partner for a future cooperation in journalism and history.
The first personal meeting between faculty members took place in July 1992. They set up a wide-ranging cooperation including reciprocal exchanges and support for a redesign of the local journalism and media education framed after the American model. The following years saw numerous joint teaching- and research events – like interdisciplinary summer schools held in Athens and Leipzig – accompanied by active student and academic exchanges.
In June 1994, this resulted in a formalized cooperation agreement signed by the representatives of both universities that was confirmed again in September 2012. Faculty from both universities regularly teach at the respective partner institution. Stimulated by the intense exchange in the liberal arts and social sciences in the middle of the 1990s, other faculties, like chemistry, also began to participate in joint research projects.
At the same time, the partners agree to a Memorandum of Understanding, which proposes the creation of a special study program at the University of Leipzig, the Ohio-Leipzig European Center (OLEC). OLEC offers attractive and high-quality study-abroad options to students of Ohio University. In various programs, such as the annual summer school, they can get first-hand experience of a foreign university system in one of Germany’s most dynamic cities, right in the heart of Europe.
Since the middle of the 1990s, the exchange between the Institute of Communication and Media Studies in Leipzig and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in Athens became more intense. Over the last years, a number of University of Leipzig faculty and students visited Athens for various study trips on topics like the US presidential elections, environmental journalism or Public Relations as well as radio broadcasting. All in all over 100 lecturers took part on the mutual exchange program and worked with faculties of the respective partners on joint research projects.
Active cooperation developed particularly between the student radio stations mephisto 97.6 at the University of Leipzig and the student employees of the public broadcast station WOUB Radio and Television at Ohio University. The reciprocal visits to the respective partners’ teaching studio, which take place nearly every year, are also used for excursions to important media locations and institutions in the host country.