Student Research Projects

The Social and Culture Make-up of Youth in the Zillertal, Austria

Student Owen Davis
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Foreign Languages and Literature
Course GER 314: Cultural and Intellectual History of Germany: From Romanticism to the Present


This research project will look into the social and cultural diversity, make-up, and instability of youth (ages 11-23) in the Zillertal (Ziller Valley), and subsequent adjacent valleys, of Austria. In this dynamic region of Austria, it is not just the mountains and avalanches which can cause problems. In this particular part of Austria, there are a disproportional number of problems involving youth. Frequently local newspapers report about young teenagers dieing from alcohol poisoning, behavioral issues in schools caused by drugs and alcohol, vandalism, and general disturbance in civic life. Some of the problems are responses to the Zillertal’s largest industry: tourism. In winter, all of the towns are filled with tourists drawn towards the copious amounts of snow for winter sports. Most of the youth are busy working during these times. However, by summertime, there is nothing else for the youth to do except turn to drugs and alcohol. By using primary sources such as local newspaper archives, personal testaments from education professionals and personal interviews from students, research will be collected in order to formulate a thesis on the social and cultural instability of the youth in the Zillertal. Specifically, the research will examine the social context and factors around a unique and troubling social phenomenon in Austria. As part of my research, I plan to interview Herr Stöckl. a former Head of a Middle School in the Zillertal regarding these issues. This project will allow me to develop interviewing and social-scientific skills, it will give me the opportunity to do research in a very unique environment, and it will give me the opportunity to apply my German in an intensive manner.


VWC 2008 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship