AIFS Abroad

AIFS Study Abroad in Berlin, Germany
Summer 2020
Course Descriptions


Courses may change at the discretion of Humboldt-Universität.

A minimum enrollment of 10 students is required for each course offered.

German Language Courses

A placement exam after arrival determines appropriate levels. Students taking German are advised to gain pre-approval from their home institution for several levels of German in order to ensure that they receive credit for the level that they test into. German language classes are taught for 45 contact hours for a recommended 3 semester credits and appear on a Humboldt-Universität transcript. Courses meet Monday through Friday. Each course is divided into grammar, conversation, vocabulary and culture.

Session 1 and Session 2
Course Code and Credits: German 101 (3)
Course Title: Elementary German
Course Description:
Students with no previous German or with only one semester in college usually place into this level. Functional uses of the language as well as grammar, cultural themes, introductions, exchanging information, writing letters, the present tense, the noun and the cases, personal pronouns and possessive pronouns, sentence structure, questions, prepositions, list of irregular verbs, basic communication and listening comprehension.
Course Code and Credits: German 102 (3)
Course Title: Advanced Elementary German
Course Description:
For students with more than one semester of German at elementary level. Further development of functional uses of German language as outlined in German 101.
Course Code and Credits: German 201 (3)
Course Title: Lower Intermediate German
Course Description:
Students who have studied German throughout high school and continued with one semester in college, or students who have 2 to 4 semesters in college, usually place into this level. Practice of speaking, listening and reading comprehension, synonyms and paraphrases in context, verb, noun, adjective, flexion, prepositions, personal and possessive pronouns, main and subordinate clauses, auxiliary verbs, special focus on sentence construction and use of past tenses.
Course Code and Credits: German 203 (3)
Course Title: Upper Intermediate German 
Course Description:
Students with at least 6 semesters of college German, experience living in a German-speaking country or German study on a regular basis since elementary school usually place into this level. Practice of speaking techniques in everyday situations, listening and reading comprehension, short reports, arguing in discussions, analysis and production of texts, enlarging vocabulary, synonyms and paraphrasing.
Course Code and Credits: German 301 (3)
Course Title: Advanced German
Course Description:
Students who are nearly fluent usually place into this level. Concentration on refining and further developing communicative skills, review of indicative and subjunctive, expressions of doubt, probability, feelings and opinions. Reading of newspapers and modern literature texts.

Subject Courses (Taught in English)

Session 1: Stream A
Course Code and Credits: History/Political Science/Sociology 311 (3)
Course Title: Nazi Germany - Rise and Fall
Course Description:

In two world wars Germany tried to dominate the globe and all major decisions were made in the capital Berlin.

Why was Germany such an aggressive power until 1945? How did Hitler manage to gain and keep power? Why were many Germans Nazis and deeply racist? How was the life of ordinary people during the war? Why did the Nazis kill millions of Jews and other innocent people in concentration camps? What were the long term effects of World War II? What happened to the Nazis after the war?

The course will provide answers to such questions via readings of texts from political science, sociology and history, while also taking the opportunity to explore the locations in which the events between 1933 and 1945 took place.

Undergraduate students (especially students of Political Science, Social Science, and History) can cover two eras of German history if they combine this course with the Summer Session 2 course on either “The Berlin Wall” or “The European Union”.

Course Code and Credits: History/Culture 323 (3)
Course Title: An Iron Kingdom? History and Legacy of the Prussian Expansion
Course Description:
An overview of the history, the legacy and the memory of the “Iron Kingdom”, embedding Prussia into the history of both Germany and Europe more broadly – explaining the continuous rise of this entity by looking at its geopolitics, geography, economy, military, religion, science and culture. Follow the development of Prussia from a small duchy to one of the most powerful kingdoms at the center of Europe. Much of European history since the Thirty Years’ War can be understood as a function of this “Prussian Expansion”, a development that upended the traditional balance of power and ultimately led to the creation of a monster at the heart of Europe: Imperial Germany, hell-bent on acquiring the great power status it thought it deserved. But there is another story to be told about Prussia: One of enlightened culture, of world-renowned education and universities, of state modernization and democratic rights that resonates until today. Between Königsberg, Potsdam and Berlin a particular worldview took shape that was both distinctly Prussian, German and cosmopolitan. Humboldt-Universität was the center of this “Berlin Classicism”, but we will look for this legacy (and how it is remembered) in other parts of the Prussian capitals as well.
Course Code and Credits: Law 315 (3)
Course Title: Introduction to International Economic Law
Course Description:

Multinational companies like Google or Apple self-evidently act on a global stage. But even small businesses participate in international trade today. The integration of national economies and the elimination of barriers of trade no longer allow a solely national view on this development. With the growing importance of international commerce, the need for an “International Economic Law” arises. Numerous regulations and agreements concern international trade and investment, but the legal framework of international economy remains indefinite. Common principles of International Economic Law will be examined by analyzing leading decisions by international courts. Therefore a substantial part of the course will be dedicated to classroom discussion of cases and reading materials.

(Only open to undergraduate law students and/or students with previous knowledge on the subject)

Session 1: Stream B
Course Code and Credits: History/Culture 310 (3)
Course Title: Berlin's Graveyard Culture as Mirror of Society
Course Description:
This course approaches the subject of life, death and dying from the spatially defined area of cemeteries. This means looking at historical and cultural changes, as well as their implications on law, society, landscape art or upcoming industries. Since the beginning of the 20th century our relationship to death and dying has again changed as new models of funeral customs and cemetery culture appear. Students will read texts on cultural and social history as well as literature. Furthermore, it examines artistic changes in memorial architecture and landscape art and bringing into focus alternative modes of green funerals and coffins. We explore and complement our knowledge by inspecting the cemeteries with three main questions in mind: Who is buried and how is he/she buried? Where is the cemetery located within Berlin, and what does this imply? What dominant funeral customs do we find here? 
Course Code and Credits: Religion/Culture 320 (3)
Course Title: Jewish Narratives in Germany – Exploring Memory Past and Present
Course Description:
In this course students will explore Jewish history in Germany – and its memorialization – from 1933 to the present. This will be accomplished through lectures, workshops, and site visits to museums in and around Berlin. In addition to the tragic history that has defined the 20th-century experience, students will have an opportunity to explore contemporary Jewish life and topics that continue to shape Berlin and Germany more widely. This course is anthropologically inflected and treats the museums and other urban spaces as field sites to be explored and analyzed critically. It is well-suited to students who are interested in religious studies, history, the social sciences, and/or more specific fields such as urban studies, ethics or museum studies.
Course Code and Credits: Political Sciences/Sociology/History 328 (3)
Course Title: Surveillance Technologies and Cultural Transformations since 9/11
Course Description:
How have surveillance technologies transformed culture and identity in post-9/11 worlds? As Jonathan Finn has stated, through digitalisation as well as public space cameras, surveillance has become a “way of seeing, a way of being” (2012). Social media users contribute by sharing their personal information in the online public domain – today’s “Funopticon” (Lewis 2017) is all about self-exposure. This course will examine the impact of surveillance technology on society by looking at the multifaceted ways technologies and societies interact. We will explore how surveillance is represented in contemporary art, literature, film and popular culture. The omnipresence of surveillance jeopardizes the hard-fought enlightened right to privacy, individuality and freedom. The course will map out important themes revolving around surveillance and its repercussions (e.g. visibility, identity, privacy and control as essential elements of today's culture of surveillance). The course provides an overview of the interdisciplinary field of surveillance and covers the latest research in the following major areas: 1. Relationship between surveillance, power and social control; 2. The concept of privacy; 3. Surveillance in the arts and popular culture. The first unit of the course offers an introduction into the history and theory of surveillance and surveillance technology (e.g. close-circuit television (CCTV) in public and quasi-public spaces, biometrics, data mining, monitoring technologies in cyberspaces, workplaces and private spaces). The second unit investigates films, novels, art and popular culture (e.g. Reality Television and Social Networking Sites) that prominently address the subject. Readings will be drawn from the social sciences, contemporary fiction and popular media. Several films will be shown to facilitate critical inquiry.

Session 2: Stream A
Course Code and Credits: Conservation/Ecology 306 (3)
Course Title: Land in the City–Green in the City
Course Description:
Urban agriculture provides multiple benefits to urban dwellers and cities. It arises not only out of crisis situations, but also through proximity to urban markets and the availability of productive resources, especially where the producers often live in marginal or illegal settlements. Students examine several functions of agriculture and horticulture in big cities, especially in Berlin, including: ecological and institutional conditions; social functions of urban agriculture and gardening, and conservation of resources through recycling of waste (water) and use of non-organic wastes in farming constructions. Students meet participants of projects and visit examples of urban agriculture in Berlin, such as allotments, community and school gardens and market-oriented urban farms.
Course Code and Credits: German Literature 321 (3)
Course Title: Stadt und Land: Literaten in und um Berlin/City and Country: Literature in and around Berlin (taught in German)
Course Description:

Berlin is a vibrant city and has always attracted and influenced artists. The “Golden Twenties and Thirties” of the 20th century are legendary – not only did the city provide inspiration and material for novels, music, theater and fine arts, but also places of refuge from life’s hectic pace and an opportunity for inner reflection.

The course is concerned with several writers, whose lives and work are closely connected to Berlin and the escape to the idylls of small towns. In this course, we read and write, discuss, look around, walk and go out: various field trips in and around Berlin, a theater visit and some movies will show the relationship between texts, style and atmosphere.

Texts for preparation or for background knowledge can also be read in English or in any other language. Texts reviewed during this class are read and discussed in their original German and all course lecture and discussions will be taught in German. To take this course students must be fluent in German.

Course Code and Credits: History/Politics/Sociology 312 (3)
Course Title: The Berlin Wall and the Cold War Era
Course Description:
For almost 30 years, the Berlin Wall was a symbol of the division of the city of Berlin, of Germany and of Europe during the era of the Cold War between the two superpowers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Consequently, the fall of the Wall in 1989 was a hugely symbolic turning point in world history. But how can we explain the building of such a dividing monument? How can we account for its fall in 1989? And how does the Wall influence our lives today? The course will provide answers to such questions via readings of texts from political science, sociology and history, while also taking the opportunity to explore the ground on which the events between 1961 and 1989 took place.
Course Code and Credits: Law 315 (3)
Course Title: Introduction to International Economic Law
Course Description:

Multinational companies like Google or Apple self-evidently act on a global stage. But even small businesses participate in international trade today. The integration of national economies and the elimination of barriers of trade no longer allow a solely national view on this development. With the growing importance of international commerce, the need for an “International Economic Law” arises. Numerous regulations and agreements concern international trade and investment, but the legal framework of international economy remains indefinite. Common principles of International Economic Law will be examined by analyzing leading decisions by international courts. Therefore a substantial part of the course will be dedicated to classroom discussion of cases and reading materials.

(Only open to undergraduate law students and/or students with previous knowledge on the subject)

Course Code and Credits: Law 318 (3)
Course Title: European Constitutional Law: National Identities Between Unity and Plurality
Course Description:

The EU is set to achieve an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe and at the same time bound to respect national cultural, linguistic and also national constitutional identities. The course will have four thematic parts. First, it will take a look into the basic features of a modern liberal democratic nation-state and its constitutional commitments. Second, it will examine the foundations of the EU, its governing principles and values and its sui generis nature as a supranational form. Third, it will highlight a notion of national constitutional identity from a national as well as from the European perspective. And finally, it will delve into the questions of resistance and dissent in legal theory and try to find parallels with an uneasy relationship between the Member States and the EU.

Course Code and Credits: Politics/Sociology 304 (3)
Course Title: The Transatlantic Relationship in the Age of Trump: Politics, Law and Culture
Course Description:

Defined by both the post-World War II Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and global conflict since 9/11, the transatlantic relationship now stands under new and unique strains. This course aims to explore the contemporary relationship between the US and its European partners—in and outside the EU and NATO. This relationship has frayed in the almost 20 years of the new century and seems especially challenged under new US leadership and foreign policy goals of the Trump Administration. European domestic policy also contributes to the complexity of the relationship, and especially policies of America’s vital ally Germany.

This course aims to clarify continuities and changes in the transatlantic relationship. First, what is the history of U.S. involvement in Europe? What theories and practical necessities background the relationship? How are these concerns increasingly challenged by factors such as globalism, populism, nationalism, and cosmopolitanism? Perhaps most importantly, how do political and cultural changes in the U.S. and Europe contribute to our understanding of the relationship going forward.

Course Code and Credits: Politics/Sociology 324 (3)
Course Title: Global Governance: Power, Structure and Agency
Course Description:

An overview of how global governance works in a world of networks, diluted power, fragmented organizational structures, renewed great power competition, and exceeded planetary boundaries. The focus will be on the actors, institutions and ideas of world politics today – from the UN family and Agenda 2030 to Great Powers to thematic alliances such as the OECD. Some hope Germany will take on the mantle of “leader of the free world”. The course will take this German perspective as a starting point to try to understand the state of global governance more broadly.

The course will take this German perspective as a starting point to try to understand the state of global governance more broadly. Who are the indispensable nations? Who are the spoilers? What kind of cooperation is needed to save the planet? Whose Global Order is it? How to save the world? We will look at multilateralist and unilateralist behavior of states, and also at recent efforts to bring more sustainability to global governance. We will also identify non-Western visions of global governance.

Finally, the course will revolve around the question of how to make the global liberal institutionalist order (and ultimately, our planet) more resilient in the face of new authoritarian challenges – after all, this is what Germany and other countries like it are striving to do.

Session 2: Stream B
Course Code and Credits: Economics/Politics/Sociology 327 (3)
Course Title: German “Social Market Economy” - A Better Capitalism?
Course Description:

Germany is Europe’s largest economy and its industrial powerhouse – selling cars like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and VW and chemical products like “aspirin” to the world. The quick recovery of the German economy after World War II still appears as an “Economic Miracle”. The seminar will air the secrets of this success by exploring the sophisticated German system – the “Social Market Economy”: How is efficient capitalist order combined with a huge welfare state? How are conflicts smoothed by incorporating the unions into “Social Partnership”? You will be surprised how modern efficient capitalism and corrupt mediaeval traditions are merged into “Social Market Economy”.

The course will explore the German economic system by lectures, readings, facility visits to industrial plants (e.g. BMW), excursions to the Museum of History, the governmental district and to innovative projects (e.g. cooperatives). Furthermore we will compare the German system with your country to find solutions for a better capitalism.

Course Code and Credits: Geography/Urban Planning/Sociology 307 (3)
Course Title: Planning Economic and Urban Neighborhoods in Transition - The Case of Berlin
Course Description:
The aim of this course is to understand and learn about the different challenges European regions are facing, e.g. integration and migration, social exclusion, demographic change, creative milieus, economic decline, shrinking cities and ecological renewal. The city of Berlin is currently a hot spot for various dynamic regional developments, and thus, serves as example to illustrate recent challenges of European metropolises. The course is featuring in-class seminar sessions as well as field trips.
Course Code and Credits: Language/Cultural Studies/Theater Studies 322 (3)
Course Title: What do Germans Laugh About? A Cultural and Performative History of German Humor from 1945 until today
Course Description:

This course is designed for students who have an interest in German cultural history and the relationship between German humor (if there is such a thing?) and the historical crime of the Holocaust. Students who attend this course should therefore know at least basic facts of German history and cultural phenomena like WWII, German shame, the Student Revolution, Cold War and the Reunification. This course offers a theoretical and artistic reflection on German humor and its underlying relationship to the Holocaust in that the Holocaust (having being committed by Germans) changed the cultural history of German humor, comedy and everyday forms of laughter in a radical way. This radical change has been internalized and passed on from the Nazi-Generation to their great grandchildren and had a remarkable effect on comedic cultural texts of all kinds (literature, film, theater, TV) after 1945.

Accordingly, Germany, in the aftermath of WWII and the historical crimes of the Holocaust, has developed a very specific sense of humor and comedy. Students will examine German comedy, which has produced specific formats and traditions (un/consciously) tied to the Holocaust.

Course Code and Credits: Politics/Sociology 309 (3)
Course Title: The European Union - Between Supranational Integration and National Sovereignty
Course Description:

The European Union is the most advanced form of economic, political and arguably societal integration outside the national state. But how does it work? What are the opportunities and limits of supranational integration? And what is the state of the Union today? In this course, participants will gain an overview on the functioning of the political institutions of the Union and on the influence of the EU on the daily lives of its citizens by reading a variety of texts from political science, sociology and history. Taking place in Berlin, the course will not miss out on the chance to take excursions to places where German and European history and politics meet.

Course Code and Credits: Politics/Sociology/Education 325 (3)
Course Title: Regionalisms. Varieties of Hegemony around the World
Course Description:

This course will try to understand the hierarchies of power in the world regions and how they translate into regional orders of different degrees of stability. As an introductory course in comparative area studies, it will look at the geography of power, its ideas and concepts, issue areas and institutions, as well as the instruments and resources that define the character of a system of regional governance – all from the perspective of a European Germany.

We will look at the different forms hegemony can take. The world regions differ widely in how they conceive, design and enforce regional governance. Regional powers play an important role in this structure, as they dispose of outsized power resources and enjoy some degree of influence, both within regional organizations and outside of it: They choose to be the good or the bad guys of regional governance. The way they deal with secondary powers in their neighborhood is the most important predictor of regional stability.

As regional powers are also interesting (but difficult) partners for international cooperation, this begs the question how powers such as Germany can influence the regional behavior of what it calls “Gestaltungsmächte“ („shaping powers”) from outside their world regions.

Applying the German concept of “partnership”, the course will identify and analyze the various forms of issue area alliances used with regional powers (e.g. Brazil or Russia) and regional organizations (e.g. the African Union), what kind of challenges they face – and, ultimately, what the world has to gain from it.

Course Code and Credits: Religion/Cultural Studies/Jewish Studies 308 (3)
Course Title: Interreligious and Intercultural Tensions in Germany
Course Description:

This course follows the complex trajectories linking interreligious and intercultural narratives in Germany today. How does the culture of memory in Germany, with its Christian frame and Jewish focus converge and diverge with more recent narratives of migration that have made Islam a visible presence in Germany? This is the main question this course seeks to address. Students will interrogate this topic through dedicated lectures, workshops, and site visits to museums and other venues.

The focus is on quality rather than quantity. The six readings are to be read carefully and discussion questions are to be prepared as assigned in advance of the class in question. (Dates and details will be announced once the schedule is set). The sites will be explored intensively with specific assignments and methods (conversation walk, field diary, participant observation).

This course can stand alone well, but can also be combined with the course offered in Summer Session 1: Jewish Narratives in Germany: Exploring Memory Past and Present

Course Code and Credits: Religion/Ethics/Law 317 (3)
Course Title: Refugee Protection and Forced Migration
Course Description:

This course examines the protection regime pertaining to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and stateless persons. It gives special attention to the evolving set of legal norms, institutions, and procedures that have emerged from the international community’s resolve to protect refugees and other forced migrants.

The course adopts two complementary methodologies: seminars and case studies combined with presentations by the students. The seminars begin with an introduction to the international human rights and the asylum regimes, and with a review of the relevant concepts and definitions. It then continues with a historical perspective of the pre-United Nations initiatives to protect refugees and introduces the normative ethics and politics of refugee protection. That is followed by an analysis of both the legal and institutional pillars of the refugee regime, i.e. of the refugee definitions captured in various international instruments and of the protection granted by the UNHCR, respectively. The last subjects to be covered by the seminars are the normative and institutional arrangements put in place for the protection of IDPs and stateless persons.

The seminars are complemented by a ‘hands-on’ methodology, namely a major case study and presentations by the students both on the state of refugee protection in their countries of origin/residence and on current significant situations (i.a. Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela, European asylum crisis, Mediterranean situation).