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Discourses of Change: Continuties and Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe

Prague, Czech Republic

Term Offered: 
Prague at dusk
Approximate Dates of Instruction: 
April 4, 2011 to June 4, 2011
Application Deadline: 
November 1, 2010

ANNOUNCEMENT: For the first time, the Prague Program includes 4 international field trips to Vienna (3 days), Krakow (4 days), Budapest (4 days) and Berlin (4 days). For dates and other details, please see the program website:

Graced by numerous hills and the river Vltava, Prague is one of the most historically and culturally rich cities in Europe. Relatively spared from natural disasters and war, Prague boasts magnificent architecture ranging from Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau and Cubist styles. In exploring the city, you will also find countless theatres, blackened statues of long ago kings, hidden churches, curved cobble-stoned streets, symphonies, as well as marvelous gardens, bars and cafés. Communism has also left a very strong imprint on Prague and Czech society, leaving behind not only legacies of authoritarianism, but also socialist industrial plants, housing structures, and monuments. Given this past, today's Prague may surprise you with its globalized consumer culture, polished luxurious downtown shopwindow, upscale boutiques, clean and efficient public transportation and "only" 35 McDonalds and 9 Starbucks. The year 2009 marked the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the communist regime in 1989 and the subsequent twenty years of developing democracy and market capitalism. In 2010, the Czech Republic thus starts its third decade as a democratic, post-communist country, being a member of the European Union since 2004 and having joined NATO already in 1998. These different layers of Czech history make Prague an ideal place in which to explore the complex relationships and contradictions that together have made up the history, culture and politics of the region.

The Prague Program is one of the oldest CHID study abroad programs. The program itself is largely based on the philosophy of CHID: it combines academically rigorous seminar-style courses, international field trips aimed at provoking personal reflection and exploration, and cultural events that transform our program into a living community. We hope that students in the program not only critically explore the intersections of Central European history, society, and politics, but also, in the process, become themselves transformed by the places, people and ideas they encounter.

For detailed information about the program, including student lodging, field trips, and previous syllabi, see


The Prague program surveys Central and Eastern European history, politics, art and film, examining such themes as resistance to authoritarianism, gender equality and human rights, nationalism and ethnic violence, globalization and environmental justice, and the role of the European Union in shaping discourse in these areas.

The program consists of three core classes (5 credits each), complemented by international and domestic field trips and cultural events.

History 490 - Topics in History: East European Communism and Everyday Life (5 credits)
An intensive introductory course to the contemporary history of East Central Europe with a special emphasis on Czechoslovakia. Through visual culture, personal memoirs, oral history and site visits the class concentrates on issues of collaboration and resistance, complicity and responsibility, legacy and change, memory and forgetting, in order to see how these shape and complicate the notion of a national history, collective identity and individual agency. By examining the relationships between the state, society and the individual in various countries, the class works against the simplistic binary of "regime" vs. "people" and "East" vs. "West" to see what these reveal about the nature and reality of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. An integral part of this class is a Film Seminar, exploring and contrasting contemporary post-1989 cinematography with the (New Wave Czech) cinema of the 1960s and the mainstream communist regime films of the 1970s and 1980s.

Political Science 495 - Democracy and Development (5 credits)
Examines the interaction between democratization and the politics of economic development in Central and Eastern Europe. After the collapse of communism, democratic and economic reforms took place simultaneously and rapidly, leading to a host of urgent problems and consequences their designers did not always predict, such as increases in economic inequality, unemployment and an increased sense of insecurity by large segments of post-communist societies. In exploring the complex intersections of recent social, political and economic transformation, we will pay particular attention to the role of civil society and membership in the European Union in shaping the democratic futures of post-communist societies. An integral part of our class are visits of and from important Czech NGOs.

CHID 471 - Prague Art and Architecture (5 credits)
This course examines the key developments in Czech visual art and architecture from the early medieval to the contemporary period. Slide-based lectures are supplemented by visits to representative monuments, art collections and museums in Prague. The primary objective of the course is to provide students with an overview of the history of art and architecture in Prague. In this respect, the course intends to have students acquire knowledge of the main characteristics of artistic and architectural styles by observing and analyzing paintings, sculptures, and architecture first-hand. The goal of the class is to understand the development of main historical styles and to identify their elements on the walks through the town.

Total Program Fees: 

The program fee will cover instruction costs, housing, and transportation for required field trips.  A $350 deposit, included in the program fee, will be assessed to the student’s tuition account just after the student signs the payment contract. In addition, the Office of International Programs and Exchanges will assess a  $250 IPE fee at the same time.  The IPE fee will remain on your account, but will not be due until the program starts.

The program fee does not cover: IPE fee, airfare, meals, insurance  or personal travel and expenses.

Make sure to read our Fees, Financing, and Withdrawal page for information on paying for your trip.