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Williams International

Thomas A. Kohut, Professor of History

1.) What, specifically, is your field of study? And how does it relate to international issues?

I am a historian of modern Germany and generally teach modern European history at Williams, so you could certainly say that my research and teaching focus on “international issues.” I am interested in culture in an anthropological sense, the way people in a particular time and place experienced the world in which they lived, in my case in Germany during the last two centuries.

2.) What is one of the best things about teaching at Williams?

Without question the people, the students and my faculty colleagues. Both are hard working, very intelligent, curious, and committed people.

3.) Despite being in western Massachusetts, is Williams a place that encourages dialogue about international issues? Or could Williams be more supportive in this regard?

I think there is increasing interest in and discussion about international issues at Williams, because of the world in which we live in the 21st century, because of the number of international students attending Williams, and because of a focus in hiring faculty who deal with the world beyond the United States in the last twenty years or so.

4.) Do you believe Williams students are interested and knowledgeable about international issues?

I think that Williams students are definitely interested in international issues, although I find their interest worryingly “instrumental.” They think it important for their future careers to be informed about the world in which they will be living and working. Their interest in the world is hence linked with planning for the future, for their own future. I became interested in history generally and German history in particular not because I was planning for my future, because I was anticipating what might happen. I became interested in history because I was interested in what had happened and wanted to understand it.

5.) Do you speak more than one language? If so, which ones?

I speak and read German almost as well as English.