Prague, Czech Republic
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Prague, Czech Republic

Course Information: 2018 Spring

Studying abroad can be a more meaningful and invigorating learning experience than at home—both inside and outside of the classroom. You may be more curious and alert than you usually are so use this heightened energy to enhance your studies as well as your cultural and geographical explorations. You may also encounter different teaching styles and course processes; be prepared to adapt and to learn.


You will enroll in 12 to 18 credits per semester comprised of a three-week intensive Czech language course plus electives in Czech language, European politics, culture and art studies. Course availability is contingent upon student enrollment and is subject to change.

Fall Semester

Language Courses

All students are required to take the two-week intensive Czech Conversation and Culture course. Advanced students have the option to take advanced Czech language courses through Charles University.

European Politics, Culture, and Art Studies

Spring Semester

Language Courses

All students are required to take the two-week intensive Czech Conversation and Culture course. Advanced students have the option to take advanced Czech language courses through Charles University.

European Politics, Culture, and Art Studies

Field Studies

USAC helps you explore the historical, cultural, and natural features of the region with carefully planned excursions and field trips. These experiences combined with academic components (readings, research, lectures, written assignments, etc) deepen your understanding of the subject matter. The optional Vienna, Budapest, and Central Europe Tour can be taken as a Field Study course.


USAC internships are rich resources for your academic and professional development and are counted as part of your credit load. The work will be done in an English-speaking environment but some knowledge of Czech language is helpful. Interns earn credits but no financial compensation. The schedule and the number of work hours will be determined by the schedule of USAC courses.

Previous placements have included: the National Library, HAMU-Academy of Music, NGOs, cultural centers and associations, banks, art agencies, galleries and a glass-making workshop. Other internship sites are possible. Placement is not guaranteed by USAC, rather it will be determined by your application and supporting materials and an interview on site with the internship sponsor.

Eligibility: enrollment in the Prague program, a minimum GPA of 3.0 and junior standing at the time of the internship. A refundable fee of $100 is charged and returned upon successful completion of the internship.

Host University Courses

Students who wish to study more advanced language may take the following courses offered by Charles University, for an additional fee. Each course may be taken for 3-12 credits, depending on how intensively you study the language. 12 language credits are equivalent to four semesters of study. Note that if you choose to take 12 credits of language in one semester, the number of elective USAC courses you can take in European Politics, Culture, and Art Studies will be limited.

US Professors

Local faculty teach most USAC courses; however, the following US professors are also teaching as Visiting Professors.

Fall Semester:

Dr. Kirsten Davis, Boise State University

Courses offered:

Dr. Kirsten Davis (Ph.D., Virginia Tech) is a licensed architect and civil engineer and teaches courses in the construction management department at Boise State University. She loves to travel internationally and has visited five continents and approximately twenty seven countries so far. She is also fascinated with learning different languages and spent a summer as a student with USAC in Chengdu, China trying to improve her Mandarin language skills.

Course Descriptions

Alternative Culture, Literature, Music, and Lifestyles

Fall (Anthropology, Sociology; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Anthropology, Sociology; 400-level; 3 credits)

Provides critical insights into graffiti, street-art, underground, punk, hip-hop, psychedelia, alterglobalization movement, etc. Multidisciplinary perspectives of cultural, literary, and media studies are explored. Seminal readings on subcultures are used to discuss the practices of ‘alternative’ urban lives in postindustrial society and certain trends of artistic production. Focus is on political interpretation of youth subversion and disclosures of power mechanisms. Visuals and field trips to graffiti and other subcultural sites are a part of this course.

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Art Photography and Genius Loci

Fall (Art; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Art; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course combines theoretical aspects of photography, its aesthetic, and cognitive value as a unique art form, with practical exercises and authentic experiential outdoor activities. Providing a basic orientation in the Czech(oslovak) photographic art of the 20th century. The focus is not so much on the technique, but rather on the styles, different views of reality, the difference between the concept and the percept of the world, and how photography as an exquisite artistic medium expresses (or at times suppresses) the individual bias, aesthetics, period style, and the societal and cultural boundaries. The course will also examine the age-old debate about the documentary versus artistic value of photography, and similarly the argument on the nude arts versus pornography.

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Behind Reality: Czech Documentaries

Fall (400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (400-level; 3 credits)

The course will inform students about various approaches to the documentary film, as well as, provide the overview of the Czech (and Czechoslovak) documentary filmmaking. The aim is to initiate discussion about what the documentary is, whether it is more "trustworthy" than the fiction film, which/whose "truth" it shows if any, etc. The students will watch the documentaries in their entirety and will discuss them in the class. Reading should be prepared for the day on which they are listed on the course schedule. Come to class ready to discuss and ask questions.

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Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought

Spring (Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course will provide the students with information regarding how Judaism was shaped by the thoughts of Torah – in large the whole Hebrew Bible, sometimes mistakenly called Old Testament. In this course we will recognize, what so lucidly said Martin Buber – "for us, Jews, the Old Testament is neither Old, neither Testament." Torah, the Tree Of Life, shaped the mind of Jewish generations throughout the whole existence of Jewish civilization. Taught in English. (Spring semester)

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Czech Cinema - Image and Memory

Fall (Art, Film; 300-level; 3 credits)

The aim of the course is to show the most important trends and moments in the history of Czech cinematography and also to put the films within their historical, political and cultural context. The topics are not in a chronological order because the “reverse motion” arrangement helps to illustrate some specific aspects in the development of Czech cinematography. Historical facts and artistic and theoretical (respectively ideological) ideas are explained using specific examples from the history of Czech cinema. During the course students will watch selected feature films in their entirety (with English subtitles or commentary) or there will be short examples illustrating the topic discussed. Students will read the texts required for each lesson and discuss them in the class. Lively discussion is expected. Students should ask anything that is not clear enough, bring their own ideas, and participate actively in the programme of the course. Part of each lesson is dedicated to film work of Jan Švankmajer. Taught in English.

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Czech Conversation and Culture

Fall (Czech; 200-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Czech; 200-level; 3 credits)

REQUIRED COURSE. This course provides students with basic skills needed to communicate on a daily basis. They include grammar, conversation, listening, and reading comprehension. During the first two weeks, students study Czech language 5 hours each day. The course provides the linguistic tools necessary both for students to make themselves understood as well as to enable them to gain a better understanding of the way of life in the Czech Republic. Successful communication is the main goal.

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Czech Cooking and Cuisine

Fall (Nutrition; 200-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Nutrition; 200-level; 1 credit)

The course is based on the principle that cooking is a way to get to learn the culture and language of the Czech Republic. The theoretical part of the course consists of discussions and readings on the history, geography and social customs of the country. Students will get to know about Czech traditions, traditional holidays, and about the local cuisine, so students will have the chance to sample some typical Czech dishes. The practical side consists of learning to prepare, as well as tasting, various Czech dishes.

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Czech Language for Daily Communication I

Fall (Czech; 100-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Czech; 100-level; 3 credits)

This course is designed to introduce you to the Czech language and to provide skills for basic communication. The instructor supervises model conversations as well as real conversational situations during walks in the Old Town. Students with previous knowledge of the Czech language attend the advanced module of this course, read short articles in local newspapers, and do independent research on the social and cultural life of Czech society.

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Czech Language for Daily Communication II

Spring (Czech; 100-level; 3 credits)

This course is intended for yearlong students who have taken Czech for Daily Communication I in the fall and wish to continue their language study during the spring semester. It is also intended for students who have completed previous Czech language coursework. The goal is to build reading, writing, listening and, above all, speaking skills. Topics discussed and written about in class focus on the history and culture of the Czech society. Taught in English. (Spring semester)

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Czech Social and Economic Transformation After 1989: Winners and Losers

Spring (Economics, Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

The Czech post-communist transformation was a fascinating process which encompassed profound change of political, social, cultural and economic structures but also meant radical change in people’s lives. The objective of the course is to help the students better understand the dominance of the market narrative in the 1990s, the political utilization of the communist past, and some of the paradoxes of transition winning and losing.

Each class will include a short introductory lecture followed by a student presentation and discussion of the readings, film screenings, fields trips, debates with guest speakers etc. The course is open both to students new to transition studies and to those who took the “Czech Society: Transition from Communism” course in the Fall term.

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Czech Society: Transition from Communism I

Fall (History, Sociology; 300-level; 3 credits)

The collapse of socialism in the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) in 1989 produced an extraordinary euphoria amongst Czech people. It created an unusually great unity in the whole country and brought also extraordinary challenges. What are those challenges and how do we approach them? What is the political, economical and moral inheritance of the 40-year Communist era? What nature is the nature of post-communism? And what is the broader Central European context?

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Dvořák and Prague Composers: Cultural Influences in Music History

Fall (Music; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Music; 300-level; 3 credits)

Music and culture: Field study, music-making projects, performance analysis required. Diversity studies

Prague is one of the traditional musical cities, once home to composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, or Dvorak. The music lover may experience here a true musical feast for low cost student tickets. The Music course is combining the lectures on various genres and époques, seminars, or visits to concerts, giving the students the theoretical background for a learned appreciation of various styles, genres, and cultures. A basic understanding of music fundamentals will be taught so that even students without music backgrounds can succeed in this course.

The course covers non- European musical cultures and their influences as well as the survey of European music. The survey is structured in these blocks: medieval and renaissance music, great Baroque masters, from classicism to national schools of music, styles after WWII and contemporary scene.

The other focus of the course is a close contact with a particular piece of music, Students will be required to watch and listen to a number of music recordings, analyze them in class, and follow the line in study music scores; however, if a student misses class, it is his or her responsibility to access these recordings. – We use Naxos music library online. The lecturer will pay attention to the main events of the Prague music life. He will provide free tickets to concerts held at the Academy of Performing Arts and elsewhere.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will have a general understanding of classical music styles and they will be able to recognize them from the audio-analysis and place them in the historical context. Special attention will be paid to various ways of authentic interpretation. Every seminar consists of lecture, listening (CD/Video) and music analysis.

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European Integration: Past, Present and Future of the European Union

Spring (Economics, Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

The very existence and the radical enlargement of the European Union is becoming one of the defining events of the early twenty-first century. The students will get acquainted with history and ideology of European unification process which still play an important role in both philosophical and political discussions of many Europeans. The emergence and transformation of political institutions is the essential part of the class. The collapse of communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe 1989 posed new challenges, culminated in the decision to massively enlarge which has presented new problems: the necessity to write a comprehensive Treaty for Europe. The analysis of the new Reform Treaty (The Treaty of Lisbon) for Europe and the process of its ratification will be one of the central parts of the course. Special attention will be dedicated to the financial crisis in the EURO-zone.

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Experiments in Czech Film

Spring (Art, Film; 300-level; 3 credits)

The course will offer the insight into the Czech cinema from the "other side". The aim is to show different faces of Czech filmmaking, i.e. the variety of approaches toward the film media. Alongside the classic Czech movies the students will have a chance to watch experimental films, the documentary, and poetic film. They will learn what magic realism and surrealism is and how these two "ism"s present themselves in the cinema. They will watch the films of a variety of genres, mainly those that are very unique for the European cinema (e.g. Western). They also will watch the films that to a certain extent, experiment with the form of the film - using interesting flashback pattern or excluding a spoken word.

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From Medieval to Contemporary: Exploring the Great Art and Architecture of Prague

Fall (Architecture, Art; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Architecture, Art; 300-level; 3 credits)

The course is an introductory survey of styles, trends and movements focusing on the fine arts and architecture in Prague and Czech Lands against the background of European influences. It covers the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque times, 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 (era of Charles IV, Rudolf II). Tours, field trips and visits to museums and galleries are a substantial part of the course.

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Gender and Post-Socialist Transformation in Central Europe

Fall (Sociology, Women's Studies / Gender Studies; 400-level; 3 credits)

The social and personal stories of women and men in East Central Europe and post-Soviet space took an unexpected turn after the Cold War. Globalization hand in hand with the return to the “natural” order of things after 1989 also brought human trafficking, prostitution and pornography, sexism in the media and advertising, domestic violence, feminization of poverty, small reproductive choices, shortage of state supported childcare and other disadvantages. What has the transition brought for men other than the end of conscription? What are the changes in the reproductive patterns and cohabitation? Gay, lesbian and transgender issues will be discussed alongside with women’s and men’s issues. Documentaries of the Open Society Fund Gender Montage and other visual materials, field trips, international conference attendance are a part of this course. (Fall semester)

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Gender Studies: A Global Perspective

Spring (Sociology, Women's Studies / Gender Studies; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course will examine how definitions of gender and sexuality are constructed in the context of globalization and trans-national movements. It will examine key gender issues and debates relating to multiculturalism, western feminism and cultural imperialism, global labor movements and migration, sex-trafficking, virtual reality and pornography, ‘third sex’ global communities, war and its impact on gender relations and religion.

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Global Economy

Fall (Economics; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Economics; 300-level; 3 credits)

Globalization constitutes integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment (by MNCs), capital flows, international flows of workers, flows of technology and humanity generally. The course covers not only the globalization of economy and related topics such as how to increase the performance of the world economy, but analyzes the different aspects of the globalization of culture and environment. The course ends with the prognosis of future preservation of sustainable development. The aim of the course is to help students to understand the process of globalization and its influence on the world and European economy. What is the role of MNCs in creation and functioning? It deals with the process of cross-cultural communication and its importance for the future not only for managers but also for millions of employees. Case studies, internet and articles from press are used in order to support active participation of the students.

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Great Czech Writers

Fall (English; 400-level; 3 credits)

The course will explore the development of Czech literature in the modern era, from the National Revival to the present time. It will focus on the study of seminal texts by major Czech novelists of the twentieth century and on the representation of personal and historical experience in fiction. As well as primary texts – Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk, Kafka's The Trial, Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude, Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Topol's City Sister Silver City - the course will introduce students to a broad selection of Czech literature and explore the cultural and historical contexts of its production. The course will feature guest lectures by Czech authors.

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Introduction to Diplomacy, Diplomatic Theory, and Practice

Fall (Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course intends to provide students with an introduction to diplomacy as a distinct area of study and explain them foreign policy of the Czech Republic as well as its diplomatic efforts. While mastering the basics of diplomatic theory, students will have chance to experience diplomacy in practice. The course will include excursions to the most important institutions relevant to the Czech foreign policy and will also feature guest lectures by Czech diplomats.

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Medieval Culture and American Parallels

Fall (Art; 300-level; 3 credits)

The aim of the course is to analyze some basic features of medieval culture on the case example of the Czech Lands and to initiate the discussion about parallels between European Medieval Culture and distant American Modern Culture (distant definitely at least both in time and in space). The course will not only look for features, phenomena and artifacts of contemporary culture with medieval roots but it will also look at Medieval Europe from the overseas perspective. Students will learn about different views of European and American medievalists and discuss the possibility of studying some phenomena of medieval period using the examples from American history. The course will include two field excursions in the city of Prague and in its close vicinity.

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Modern Central European and Czech Politics

Fall (Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course is designed for students interested in learning about the political change in Central Europe after 1989 and the present political developments of the Czech Republic. Students will compare recent economic theories and develop a research project focused on political, economic and social issues. Special attention is paid to the contemporary state of political parties, the Parliament and the government. For this purpose, students regularly read articles and other materials published in English. Relevant information about socio-economic life (incomes, prices, housing policy, etc.) is an important part of the course. This course includes visits to Prague's policy-making institutions (visit to the Parliament and discussions with deputies), companies and factories. Enrollment in the Vienna and Budapest Field Studies course is recommended.

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Modern History of Central Europe

Fall (History; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (History; 400-level; 3 credits)

The course will provide the students with basic knowledge of the Czech political, social and cultural history. Though the course concentrates on the modern history of Czechoslovakia, it is using the example of medieval and early modern Prague to provide insight into the earlier periods of Czech history, which also serves to problematise the notion of “national history” as a history of national state. The course is designed as a seminar based on reading and discussion of stimulating texts often selected from the works of leading Czech novelists, such as Hašek, Kafka or Kundera, thus giving the students a taste of the Czech literary tradition. An integral part of the class will be several field trips as well as screening and discussion of several historical films illuminating on the one hand the given historical period and on the other the most important chapter of Czechoslovak film history - so called “New Wave”.

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Mystery of Words

Spring (English; 200-level; 3 credits)

The course introduces the basics of etymology and language history in an accessible and understandable way. It explains why and how words and languages change and goes over various processes that can cause the changes (analogy, folk etymology, taboo, metaphor etc.). It reveals surprising and sometimes curious changes of the words in the course of time (e.g. the “Czech” origin of American dollar). Special attention is paid to the question of language contact, borrowings and the influence of one language on another one. All the language phenomena are demonstrated mostly on the English and Czech lexical material, but also other languages are used to illustrate certain issues.

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Stalinism in Eastern Europe

Fall (History; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (History; 400-level; 3 credits)

"Eastern Europe" is the lands and peoples who fall between the major European empires; these are lands to which the industrial revolution came late. Eastern Europe has also been a region of political and ideological experimentation for the past century. The period covered by this class, from 1945 to 1989, was one exceptional period of such experimentation, in which a foreign import - Soviet style communism - was applied and tested on the raw material of underdeveloped and mutually hostile lands and peoples.

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The Holocaust:Twentieth-Century Jewish Studies

Fall (History, Sociology; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course covers the history of Jewish communities in Central Europe since the 12th century. However, it focuses mainly on 20th century events: the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the evolution of succession states and the condition of Jews in each of them, the spread of fascism in Europe and the post-war situation. We will also focus on particular aspects of modern Jewish thought and post-Holocaust theology, the relationship between Judaism and Christianity after the Holocaust and historical aspects of Jewish Prague and Central European Jewry. We will also delve into the "Philosophy of Judaism", and reflect on such luminaries as the American religious thinker Abraham Jehoschua Heschel, philosophers of traditional Judaism, like Buber, Rosenzweig as well as Karl Marx and the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

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The Image of Prague: Literature, Architecture, and Cultural History

Spring (English; 300-level; 3 credits)

The introduction to European architectural styles since the Romanesque period will be studied through reading historical records, fine literature and through walks in the neighborhoods surrounding Charles University. Students will study gothic, renaissance and baroque paintings and sculptures in the collections of the National Gallery in Prague. The main focus of the course will be modern art from 1890 until the present. Students will study all art genres of the 20th century and will visit the Gallery of Modern Art frequently. Students will study literary styles and will read texts (in English translation) of Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hašek, Karel Capek, Milan Kundera, Bohumil Hrabal and Václav Havel.

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The Peoples of Europe - Their Origins, Histories, Contacts

Fall (300-level; 3 credits)

The course focuses on the processes and events that have been making the ethnical and political borders of Europe since the arrival of Indo-Europeans until present times. It follows the formations, expansions and differentiations of the Celtic, Germanic, Romance, Slavic and other peoples, the formation of medieval nations or changes in the political map of Europe in the last centuries. It also explains how and when peoples like Basques, Albanians, Hungarians, Turks appeared in Europe. Due to its comprehensive character, the course is suitable for students interested in history, politics, geography, ethnology or linguistics.

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Vienna and Budapest Field Study

Fall (Czech; 400-level; 1 credit)
Spring (Czech; 400-level; 1 credit)

Students will gain an introduction to the culture and civilization of Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, both in historical and contemporary social and politics perspectives. A fee of $410 is charged to cover transportation, lodging, lectures and entrance to museums.

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