What began as a seminar for Slavic languages in 1916 grew to become the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in 1961. In 2006, Giessen became the center of Slavic Studies in Hessen with the founding of the Giessen Centre for Eastern European Studies (GiZo).
Any Slavic Department naturally endeavors to adequately represent the large linguistic areas of Eastern, Western, and Southern Slavic Studies both in teaching and research. However, no Slavic department in the world can cover all Slavic languages in teaching and research. Even the question of how many Slavic languages there are can be answered in several ways, but surely would include Czech, Slovak, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Polish, Kashubian, Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, Russian, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Slovenian, even if one can always argue about their respective status (fully developed standard language or just Regiolect?). One could then expand the list to other linguistically interesting variants such as Torlak (a transitional dialect of Serbian/Bulgarian) or Moliseslavian (a Croatian dialect spoken in Italy). The extinct Slavic languages, whose (West Slavic) remnants still appear in many German place names (for example, Leipzig from lipa = “linden tree"), add a fascinating historical depth to the discussion.
The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures represents the three major branches of Slavic languages and offers language courses and courses of study in the following languages:
With the introduction of the new programs starting in 2020/2021, Slavic Studies in Giessen offers a concentrated Slavic education, which combines language acquisition in at least two Slavic languages and studies in Slavic linguistics, literature, and culture. By supplementing these studies with courses at the Historical Institute, students acquire expert knowledge in the field of Eastern Europe, which is enriched with research in the "Giessen Center for Eastern Europe."
For a more business-oriented course of study, Slavic languages can also be studied as part of the "Intercultural Business and Communication" (ICB) course, which combines culture-specific and economic expertise. The newly created professorship for the ICB program will provide a link between business language skills and applied economic knowledge. Our partnerships with universities in Slavic countries – Łódź (Poland), Kazan (Russian Federation) and Kiev (Ukraine) – offer students the possibility of well-organized semesters abroad to test their language skills in practice (with easily transferrable course credits), as well as internships abroad. All language courses in Giessen are taught by native speaker lecturers.