Study Abroad in Prague, Czech Republic

Study Abroad in Prague: Courses

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Course descriptions

The University and AIFS recommend students take one or two courses (3 credits each) for a maximum of 6 credits. However you may select up to 3 courses for a total of 9 credits. Students should be advised that this is a very intensive academic schedule and is not recommended. Instruction is in English. A minimum enrollment of 5 students is required for each course offered. Classes are held Monday through Thursday for four weeks. Courses are subject to change at the discretion of Charles University.

Czech Language Course

Czech Language | Survival Czech—Included for all students

In order to better prepare students for their stay in Prague, all students will participate in a one-day Survival Czech course taught by a Charles University professor. This eight-hour course with small class sizes (fewer than 13 students) equips students with the necessary language skills in order to “survive” in Prague. Students will not only learn the basics, but also go on a field trip with the professor to learn more about the city. A textbook is included.

CZE 102 (3) | Czech Language for Every Day Use - Level I

The course is designed to teach students basics of the Czech language and, at the same time, to extend their knowledge of Czech culture and everyday life. The communicative approach and everyday vocabulary are emphasized, students are supposed to communicate in various situations of everyday life (introducing oneself, asking about directions, shopping, restaurants, daily routine, likes and dislikes). Various linguistic skills should be developed in balance: knowledge of grammar, comprehension, speaking, and writing.

Courses taught in English

ART 301 (3) | Czech and European Art and Architecture, Section 1

Provides a general overview of the Fine Arts development in Europe with a special focus on Central Europe and monuments in Prague. The course covers the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods up to Modernism and the Contemporary art scene. Special attention will be paid to the unique characteristics and developments of art (e.g. Prague Castle, Baroque churches, Czech cubism) and to the most glorious periods in the history of Czech Lands. The course will also focus on important artists and movements that illustrate typical features of a certain time period. By studying detailed information about a particular piece of art, students will develop insight about the history of Fine Arts as an academic discipline. The class is divided into two parts; a lecture in the classroom and a field trip to a local museum or other monuments or buildings in Prague.

ART 302 (3) | Art and Architecture of Prague, Development of European City

Course description coming soon.

ART 321 (3) | Art Photography and Genius Loci

Combines theoretical aspects of photography and its aesthetic as well as its cognitive value as a unique art form with practical exercises and authentic experiential outdoor activities. Though not primarily conceived as a course in the history of Czech Photography, it does provide a basic orientation to Czech photographic art of the 20th century. The focus of the course is not so much on photographic techniques, but rather on visual styles and how photography as an artistic medium expresses (or at times suppresses) the individual bias, aesthetics, period style, and societal and cultural boundaries. The course also marginally examines the of photography. Students are expected to use a digital camera of any quality for class assignments (cameras are not provided by the university, each student has to bring his or her own; no cell-phone cameras, please). No special technical expertise is required.

FILM 368 (3) | Czech and Slovak Cinema from the 1950's to Present: Politics, Visuality, and Experimentation

Bounded by the Germanic empires to the west, the Russian Empire and Soviet Union to the east, Hungary and the former Ottoman holdings to the south, the Czech and Slovak lands have long been a site of conflict and creation. This course will explore the incredibly rich cinematic tradition of thought provoking and entertaining films produced in the areas of the Czech Republic (the primary area of focus), and Slovakia from the years following World War II up until the beginning of the 21st century. In addition to watching films, students will also discuss cinematic theory and approaches to “reading” films, not only as movies, but also as multi-faceted cultural artefacts. Readings will include primary source materials on cinema history, historical research, film theory, and literature intended to broaden the understanding of Czech and Slovak culture, cinematic and otherwise.

HIST 205 (3) | Shaping Central Europe

Focuses on the history of Central Europe through the study of the major phenomena that shaped it. The main themes considered in the course are the impact of the Habsburg dynasty on the region’s politics and culture, the rise of nationalism in the 19th century and its consequences for post-WWI Central Europe. The impact of World War II on the region is analyzed as well as the disappearance of Central Europe as a political and cultural entity under Communist rule and its rebirth at the end of the 20th century. Jewish history and its significance for the region are also explored. Each theme is illustrated by a field trip and/or a documentary.

HIST 330 (3) | A Failed State? Czechoslovakia 1918-1993

The history of Czechoslovakia is symptomatic of the history of Europe in the twentieth century. Created out of the remnants of the Habsburg Empire in 1918, it reproduced many of its problems. It was dismembered by Nazi Germany in 1938/39 and under Nazi rule, most Jews and many Roma were deported to concentration camps and murdered. The country was reconstituted in 1945 and the first three tense post-war years saw the violent expulsion of the country’s Germans and Hungarians. Czechoslovakia was taken over by a communist government that ruled with a tight fist until 1989, despite the ‘Prague Spring’ of 1968. Three years after the ‘Velvet Revolution’, Czechoslovakia was split into the Czech and Slovak Republics. In a recent history of the country, historian Mary Heimann controversially characterized Czechoslovakia as a failed state. Using this contention as a starting point, the course provides an overview of the history of Czechoslovakia. It will focus on political developments and regime changes, but also touch on the cultural and social developments that influenced politics.

LIT 320 (3) | German–Jewish Literature in Prague

This course examines literature by Jewish authors who wrote in German and lived in Prague during the first half of the 20th century. A primary goal of the course is to provide an understanding of the political, social, and cultural situation of German-Jewish authors during the interwar period. We will consider the precarious position of the German-Jewish community, which lived in a metaphoric “double ghetto” (as both “German” and Jewish) in Prague, and the various ways that their literary texts navigate issues related to national identity, language, religion, and social integration.

POL/ECON 308 (3) | International Affairs: European Union and Asia

Focuses on the European Union as an actor of international relations and analyzes relations between the EU, EU member states and different regions of Asia. The course provides an introduction to the EU’s foreign policy priorities and instruments as well as its interests in Asia in the fields of economy and trade, politics, security and development. Case studies of the EU’s approach towards selected countries of Asia illustrate the main issues and dimensions of the EU’s global conduct, including energy security, soft power and agenda setting.

ECON 310 (3) | Economic Affairs: European Union and Asia

The class aims at current stage and basic trends within the development of the world economy with a special emphasis on the comparison of economic systems in Europe and Asia. It makes students familiar with principal actors of the global economic system (i.e. states, international organizations, transnational corporations, regional integration agreements and sovereign wealth funds) as well as with their mutual interconnections. Brief description of the European integration and its main attributes is also provided. The crucial part of the course is dedicated to introduction of the European and Asian economic systems and discussion about related problems.

POL 316 (3) | Modern Czech Politics Across Various Political Regimes: Never-ending Transformation

The transformation of Czechoslovakia (and later of the Czech Republic) from a communist satellite state into a European Union member state is an exciting story but it also contains an intellectual challenge. The transformative process encompassed a profound change of political, social, cultural and economic structures while at the same time caused radical changes in people’s lives. The course starts with a short introduction to Czech pre-communist politics and regimes. Then a survey of communist rule follows, concentrating on the role of the party, propaganda and political life, looking also at daily life under communism. Next, two radical political changes are discussed: The Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the “Velvet Divorce” of 1992-1993; these will be taken as models of change with much larger implications for the whole of Central and Eastern Europe. The focus is on the discussion of key political institutions and parties in comparative perspective.

SOC 345 (3) | Contemporary Czech Art, Culture and Literature: Urban Semiotics

The course will acquaint students with the contemporary Czech art scene, its “roots” and transformations from three different perspectives. First, the course will pursue how Czech art and music are connected with activism, minority groups and mainstream culture. Second, focus will be placed on how to “read” contemporary urban performances, literature and works of art. How and why do performances address and fascinate their readers? What value-hierarchies and culture-changing signs do they produce? Third, the course will familiarize students with the notions of performance art, digital media, counterculture, mass culture and show their impact on Czech individuals and society.

PSY 321 (3) | Language, Culture, and Social Cognition

The course introduces students to selected topics centered on the relationship between social cognition (i.e. folk psychology, theory of mind), language and culture. In spite of its cross-disciplinary scope, its chief focus is on questions of human development. It is designed for students in both arts and the sciences and will be run as a combination of lectures and seminars.