Through her position of Associate Dean of Academic Personnel and Administration in the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University where she has served since 2017, Sonja Fritzsche is able to pursue highly meaningful, values-driven work together with dedicated colleagues. In this role, she works closely with the Dean to support Chairs and Program Directors as well as faculty and academic staff. A primary focus has been to share knowledge and expand opportunities via the Culture of Care initiative and Charting Pathways to Intellectual Leadership (CPIL) model, equitable and inclusive searches and faculty review procedures, College-wide faculty development and leadership initiatives that employ “transformative listening” (ADFL Bulletin 2022), creating habits of diversity, equity, and inclusion across the College, and a focus on non-tenure stream mentoring and career pathways. Fritzsche is in the process of shifting to the role of Associate Dean for Administration and Undergraduate Studies in the College of Arts & Letters which she will assume full-time in spring 2024.
A Professor of German Studies, her current Health Humanities project is in the area of comparative German/US autism and disability studies. She is author of Science Fiction Literature in East Germany (Peter Lang Oxford, 2006), editor of The Liverpool Companion to World Science Fiction Film (Liverpool UP, 2014/pbk. and ebook 2021), and co-editor of Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East (Peter Lang Oxford, 2018) with Anindita Banerjee and The Routledge Companion to Gender and Science Fiction (2023) with Lisa Yaszek, Keren Omry, and Wendy Gay Pearson. A primary goal of her scholarly career has been to foster greater awareness of science fiction literature and film beyond Anglo-American contexts (global SF) and to support young scholars doing work on the SF in languages other than English. Consequently, she places great value on mentorship and stewardship. To this end, she served as President of the Association of Language Departments (former ADFL) in 2015, as Vice President of the Science Fiction Research Association (2019-2021), and now am on the Steering Committee of the Coalition of Women in German (2022-2025). She is also a Fulbright and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) grant recipient and was a Big Ten Academic Advancement Academic Leadership Program Fellow from 2017-2018.
Currently, she serves as co-PI with the Big Ten Academic Alliance Less Commonly Taught and Indigenous Languages Partnership grant (PI: Christopher P. Long, 2019-2024) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Among other aspects, this iteration of the grant focuses on supporting Anishnaabemowin instruction in communities and institutions as well as creating cross-institutional partnerships to sustain and grow Less Commonly Taught Language instruction as central to the DEI mission of MSU and higher education.
Prior to coming to MSU, Fritzsche earned her B.A. at Indiana University, her MA in European History at UCLA, and her PhD in Germanic Studies at the University of Minnesota. She did graduate work at the Free University of Berlin and the Humboldt University in Germany. Fritzsche was Professor of German and Eastern European Studies and Department Chair at Illinois Wesleyan University before coming to MSU in 2015 as Chairperson of the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures.
To learn more about Associate Dean Fritzsche’s scholarly and administrative work, visit her website: sonjafritzsche.com, or her Humanities Commons profile.
Finally – she strives to practice transformative change to establish the “everyday utopia” (Davina Cooper 2013) and go through life with radical humility (Modrak and Vander Broek 2022), kindness, generosity (Fitzpatrick 2019), and grace (Kyodo Williams 2016) that one gets from a life spent tandem cycling many, many miles. May the road rise to meet you and may the wind be always at your back.