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.
Deepen your academic experience by turning the optional Vienna and Budapest Tour into a 1-credit field study by completing additional academic requirements (readings, research, written assignments, reports, etc.). Students who choose the field study option will select a particular topic of interest that relates to the history and culture of the region visited and prepare a research paper. Potential field study research topics include: the political history, literature, or art of Central Europe, international relations or European unification.
Local faculty teach most USAC courses; however, the following U.S. professors are also teaching as Visiting Professors.
Dr. McNay holds a PhD in History from Temple University. He has published three books, including two on the Cold War, as well as other articles and reviews in his discipline. In 2016, he was a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo. As part of his work, he presented a paper on presidential decisions for peace. He is the recipient of multiple service awards from his college (2014), university (2015) and a national award from the American Association of University Professors (2015).
Dr. Steffen is an assistant professor of physics at UNLV. He studies extrasolar planets and was a science team member on NASA's Kepler mission. Previous work included searches for dark matter, dark energy, weird gravity, and the fastest way to board an airplane.
Alternative Culture, Literature, Music, and Lifestyles
Summer Session I (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.
Czech Cinema - Image and Memory
Summer Session II (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.
From Medieval to Contemporary: Exploring the Great Art and Architecture of Prague
Summer Session I (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.
Gender and Post-Socialist Transformation in Central Europe
Summer Session II (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.
Great Czech Writers
Summer Session II (English; 400-level; 3 credits)
This 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.
Introduction to Czech Language I
Summer Session I (Czech; 200-level; 1 credit)
Summer Session II (Czech; 200-level; 1 credit)
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.
Introduction to Czech Language II
Summer Session II (Czech; 200-level; 1 credit)
A continuation of Introduction to Czech Language I. (Session II)
Modern Central European and Czech Politics
Summer Session II (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.
Physics for Future Presidents
Summer Session II (Physics; 100-level; 3 credits)
An introductory course for non-science majors covering the physics that every future leader should know: energy and electricity, weather and weapons, climate and quantum mechanics, information and data, light and space.
Politics in Europe’s New Democracies
Summer Session I (Political Science; 400-level; 3 credits)
This course addresses two central challenges facing Europe's post-Communist countries: how to achieve consolidated democracy and how to transition from planned to capitalist market economies. Government performance in these areas varies considerably: The Czech Republic has achieved a vibrant, high-performing democracy and a robust market economy. However, other countries have returned to authoritarian government and economic stagnation. This course explores the particular political and economic characteristics influencing new democracies' performance. We will address the Czech case first, but we will continue on to explore the dynamics helping or hindering political and economic development in a wide variety of European countries.
The Global Food Challenge
Summer Session I (Agriculture, Environmental Science, Nutrition; 200-level; 3 credits)
Food is central to our lives; and this in many more ways than the action of eating to sustain body and brain. Food is embedded in culture and acts as a strong binding link in families and societies and even between societies as food products and recipes travel the world. More importantly, what is less known is that food production and consumption stand at the crossroad of the big world challenges that humanity faces: hunger, poverty, energy, environment, climate change and population growth. Finally, access to food is a condition to the political stability of a country as mass demonstrations against high food prices (known as ‘food riots’) have showed in recent years.
The Holocaust:Twentieth-Century Jewish Studies
Summer Session II (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.
Summer Session I (Art, Journalism; 200-level; 1 credit)
Because the development of photography has always been closely connected to both the technical and creative spheres, in this course the theoretical and historical aspects of photography are introduced through practical exercises.
Ultimately, this will lead to the development of students’ own ways of visualizing their traveling experiences. Students who complete the course successfully will have produced a small book of well-crafted photographs that professionally documents their summer semesters abroad.
Twentieth-Century History of Central Europe
Summer Session I (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 the Czech history in order to stimulate independent reflection of another culture, 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.
Vienna and Budapest Field Study
Summer Session I (Czech; 400-level; 1 credit)
Summer Session II (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 is charged to cover transportation, lodging, lectures and entrance to museums.
World War II: Prague under the Swastika
Summer Session I (History; 400-level; 3 credits)
This course will focus on World War II broadly considered but with a special focus on Prague. Making use of the location, we will tour important sites related to the war in the city and the area, including the site of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by the Czech resistance and the village of Lidice wiped out by the Nazis in retaliation.