Prague, Czech Republic
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Prague Courses - 2020 Fall

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 two-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

To request a course syllabus:

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 $200 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.

Visiting Professors

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

Fall Semester:

Dr. James Woodbridge | University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Courses offered:

James Woodbridge got his Philosophy PhD from Michigan, as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow. Now an Associate Professor at UNLV, James has presented at conferences in Prague, Salzburg, Dublin, Paris, Barcelona, Riga, Lisbon, Bratislava, and Alghero. In 2015, his co-authored book, Pretense and Pathology, was published by Cambridge University Press.

Spring Semester:

Dr. Gregory Kirk | Northern Arizona University

Courses offered:

Dr. Kirk is Associate Chair of the Philosophy Department at Northern Arizona University, specializing in Ancient Philosophy, Continental European Philosophy, and Ethics. He is the author of articles in Ancient and Continental Philosophy, as well as The Pedagogy of Wisdom: An Interpretation of Plato’s Theaetetus (Northwestern University Press, 2015.)

Course Descriptions

Alternative Culture, Literature, Music, and Lifestyles

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

This course provides critical insights into a social function of modern and postmodern art, street-art, underground, dissent, alternative, experimental, performance, situationist, alter-globalization movement, etc. Multidisciplinary perspectives of cultural, literary, and media studies are explored. Seminal readings on the listed topics 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 diverse events and 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 (Art, Film / TV Production; 400-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Art, Film / TV Production; 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, English, Film; 300-level; 3 credits)

The course will offer intensive insight into the Czech cinema. 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 and analyze experimental films, the documentary, and poetic film.

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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 learn about Czech traditions, traditional holidays, as well as about the local cuisine; additionally, they will have the chance to sample some typical Czech dishes. The practical side consists of learning to prepare, as well as to taste, 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 objective of the course is to help students better-understand the nature of the socialist dictatorship, the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of the transition, and the complex problems associated with the memory of communism. Each class will include a short introductory lecture followed by a presentation and discussion of the readings, film screenings, fields trips, and discussions with guest speakers.

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Diplomacy and Its Language: The Art of Restraining Power

Fall (Political Science; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Political Science; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course takes a synchronic as well as diachronic approach to diplomacy and provides inter-mediate level of insight into what diplomacy is, what its role in international relations is, and what unique tools and instruments it uses. It is partly based on the case study and an exploration of Czech and U.S. foreign policies, both historical and current. It also makes excursions to the major and paramount diplomatic events in the 20th century in Europe and in the world. The emphasis is placed on the current international issues as a result of policies and diplomatic actions. It also discusses EU, its major bodies and mechanisms on which EU operates on the international political scene.

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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)

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.

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Environmental Ethics

Spring (Philosophy; 300-level; 3 credits)

This course consists, most generally, in a reflection on the relationship between human beings and our environment, and the ethical issues that arise for us in this relationship. We will begin by reflecting on some of the most influential and powerful conceptions of nature in the history of philosophy. We will use these conceptual tools to examine the following: how people attempt to justify thinking of human beings as having an obligation to nature (and what sort of obligation that might be); what the specific features that shape our relationship to nature are in our modern technological framework; and finally – and in light of the complexity we will discover in our study – how we should conduct ourselves in the face of urgent contemporary environmental issues.

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

Spring (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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Freud and Psychoanalysis

Spring (Philosophy, Psychology; 300-level; 3 credits)

The work of Sigmund Freud has had an enormous impact on how we think about human psychology, as well as the interpersonal, cultural, political, and economic relations that follow from our psychological natures. We can see signs of his lingering influence by looking at the way in which his vocabulary has been woven into everyday language (the unconscious, the “Freudian slip,” the ego and the id, etc.). However, perhaps to some extent as a result of his massive influence, his works are seldom read seriously in our own time. In this course, it is our aim to read Freud both seriously and philosophically. That is, we will study his claims about the human psyche – its nature, its motivations, its shaping and development – as philosophical claims. We will do so by studying material over the course of his massive body of work, including case studies and theoretical writings. We will them move on to study some of the thinkers who have been powerfully influenced by Freud, taking psychoanalysis in different and interesting directions. Students can expect to come out of the class having a deeper sense of the research, thought and legacy of one of the most innovative thinkers of the 20th century.

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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 course is focused on a region in political and economic transition, as well as on a mode of interpreting the self and the world which is itself constantly in transition. We will explore the extent to which gender relations have operated, been acknowledged and have a bearing on political, social and cultural life in the Czech Republic and in the wider post-communist Eastern European context.

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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)

This multi-disciplinary course covers different aspects of globalization. Special attention is paid to the environmental, cultural and economic dimension of globalization-international trade and the role of multi-national corporations (MNC’s).

The aim of the course is to help students to understand the process of globalization and its influence on the world economy. It explains the dynamics and importance of internet and mass media for fostering cross-cultural communication. The course combines theoretical approach with case studies and practical discussions. Students are expected to follow press and electronic articles to be able to participate actively

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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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Intensive Czech Language and Culture

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

REQUIRED COURSE. The course focuses on providing students with basic skills needed to communicate on a daily basis. This course includes basic grammar, conversation, listening and reading comprehension.

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Language, Meaning, and Communication

Fall (English, Linguistics, Philosophy; 400-level; 3 credits)

This course examines the nature of linguistic meaning and how speakers communicate content with one another. Language use is such a central and familiar human activity that most of us take it for granted. But how language actually works is a deeply wondrous issue. How is it that certain physical items (or events) in the world—particular acoustic blasts from our mouths or certain marks on paper—can be about other things in the world? How does one person manage to convey novel information to another by speaking (or writing)? We will consider questions like these by investigating such topics as: the pragmatics of communication (speech-acts and conversational implicature), how language relates to thought, how names indicate their bearers, the innateness view of language, the social aspect of language, meaning-as-use theories vs. truth-conditional semantics, skepticism about private language and the normativity of meaning, metaphorical language, and the operation of language in fiction.

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Medieval Culture and American Parallels

Fall (History; 300-level; 3 credits)

The course aims to analyze some basic features of medieval culture on the case example of Czech Lands, as well as to initiate discussion about parallels between European Medieval Culture and distant American Modern Culture (distant at least both in time and in space). It will also explain the basic methods of historiography and look at primary sources used for interpreting medieval history. Students will learn how to approach the remains of the past critically and will use this knowledge for practical training in the environment they are more familiar with – American frontier history of the years 1840-1890.

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Modern Central European and Czech Politics

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

Central and East European (CEE) countries seem to be standing at the crossroads. Liberal democracy is challenged across the region. Populist, authoritarian and anti-politics tendencies are rising. Does this stem from unresolved legacies of the Communist past? Or does it reflect pre-Communist authoritarian political cultures? Or does it simply mirror contemporary global tendencies of anti-establishment moods? With a similar geopolitical position in the former East Bloc, countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary differed significantly in the types of their communist regimes, as well as their transitions to democracy in 1989-1991. This comparative aspect will be studied with special focus. Students will be also encouraged to challenge the mainstream understanding of “transition” as a predictable, gradual and irreversible progress towards the standard “Western” model. The course is designed as a seminar based on a guided discussion about carefully selected texts collected in a reader; active participation of the students is essential.

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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 Modern Central European political, social and cultural history. For practical reasons, the course will primarily use the example of Czech history in order to stimulate independent reflections of other cultures, seemingly familiar yet very different from that of the students. It will compare and contrast the Czech modern experience with the histories of other Central European countries, which all historically shared the same fate of small nations between two large historical rivals: Germany in the West and Russia in the East. An integral part of the class will be several field trips.

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Mystery of Words

Spring (English, Linguistics; 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, as well as covers various processes that cause changes (sound change, analogy, folk etymology, taboo, metaphor etc.). It reveals surprising and sometimes curious changes of the words throughout the course of time (e.g. the “Czech” origin of American dollar). Special attention is paid to the question of language contact, borrowing, and the influence of one language on another one. The language phenomena covered are demonstrated mostly with English and Czech lexical material, but other languages may also be used to illustrate certain issues.

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Science Fiction and Philosophy

Fall (English, Philosophy; 200-level; 3 credits)

Could a robot qualify as a person? How do we know the world we experience isn’t a computer simulation? Would the morality of an alien species still be right-for-them if it conflicted with ours? Would advanced technology support political justice? This course explores some central philosophical issues (such as What are the criteria for personhood? What can we know beyond our perceptions? Are there universal moral principles?), as they get raised in various works of science fiction. “Sci-fi” provides an accessible platform for asking and attempting to answer certain questions that philosophy investigates more systematically. We will consider a variey of issues as they are raised in various works of sci-fi, determine their philosophical underpinnings, and examine how various philosophers have investigated those underlying issues. Some further questions (and their philosophical basis) that we will consider include: If my memories and consciousness were uploaded into a computer or a robot when my body died, would the result still be me? (What makes me the particular individual that I am?) Should we punish someone for a crime he has not yet committed if we knew he was predetermined to commit it in the future? (Do we have free will, and how does this issue relate to morality?) Would it be unjust for an advanced alien species to come here and dictate how we are to live? (What responsibilities do the powerful have to the less powerful?) How do the reactions we might have to alien (or long-isolated human) socieities—and that they might have to us—reveal problems with our own society? (Where do we manifest racism, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression?) What sort of life can someone have in a corporatized, resource-poor, dystopian setting? Is technology a danger for us? (What aspects of current society might threaten our future, and how might we resist them?) Science fiction will point the way.

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Stalinism in Eastern Europe

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

The establishment of Communist systems of government in Russia and postwar Eastern Europe was a major phenomenon in 20th-century European history. The ideological basis of these governments was a creative adaptation of Marxism, an innovative alternative to classical capitalism, in reaction to world wars, economic crises, and new international power relations. Stalinism emerged as a striking phase in the development of the communist movement involving intense power struggles and highly developed systems of oppression and corruption, as well as relative economic development and the emancipation of privileged social strata.

The objective of the course is to help students examine the role of the Stalinist era in the region’s history. Each class will include a short introductory lecture followed by a discussion of the readings, film screenings, field trips, and debates with guest speakers.

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Sustainable Development: Key Dimensions and Challenges

Fall (Environmental Science, Geography; 300-level; 3 credits)
Spring (Environmental Science, Geography; 300-level; 3 credits)

Sustainable Development has become a commonplace term and a major reference point in global, national, and municipal politics of most countries, and increasingly also in the actions and policies of various political leaders. The overarching 2015 global framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) required UN member states, international organizations, as well as NGOs, businesses, cities and other stakeholders to align their activities/policies along 17 broad areas, ranging from poverty, inequalities to environment, peace, and good governance.

In this course, we will first explore the theories and concepts that support this global development framework. In the first block of the course, we will discuss links between sustainability and quality of life, learn about different ways to measure progress and discuss the ways in which the SDG is different in comparison to previous global development projects. In the second block, we will analyze, based on selected issues of poverty and migration, the role of different actors, the challenges they face, and the types of solutions they offer. The third block will be devoted to the highly important topic of our day – climate change. After establishing background, we will examine strategies offered by businesses, as well as by local communities, to mitigate the impacts and adapt to the new conditions. We will conclude the course with presentations of field projects and discussions synthesizing course themes and major take-aways.

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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 (Anthropology, History; 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 (History, Political Science; 400-level; 1 credit)
Spring (History, Political Science; 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 is charged to cover transportation, lodging, lectures and entrance to museums.

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