St. George at Night

Heart of Europe: Tradition and Revolution, Trauma and Memory

Location: Prague, Czech Republic; and Krakow, Poland
Faculty: James Wald, associate professor of history (CSI)
Course Number: TBD
Departure Date (tentative): May 25, 2018 Return Date: June 17, 2018
Course Fee (tentative): $3,750 + airfare (information about additional expenses and financial aid below)

Course Summary

These two stunningly beautiful cities with rich cultures, dramatic pasts, and promising futures should command the interest of any student. They allow us to see the flowering, near-death, and rebirth of European civilization: ancient royal capitals and university towns that experienced in the space of the last century the transition from monarchy to republic, Nazi occupation and Soviet domination, postcommunist revolution, and reintegration into the wider continental community. They were laboratories for artistic experimentation from the Middle Ages to Modernism and political organization from the multiethnic empire to the nation-state. The mix of Slavic, German, and Jewish populations experienced cross-cultural cooperation and murderous conflict. The cities themselves will be our classroom as we explore history and the way the memory of the past has shaped residents’ fears, hopes, and values. 


None, but students are strongly encouraged (though not required) to take the fall 2017 course CSI-0239: Coffeehouses, Catastrophe, and Culture: Modern East Central Europe.


Short-term field course eligibility requirements (for Hampshire and non-Hampshire students)

Financial Information

Short-term Field Course Finances and FundingImportant information about fees, payments, and financial aid.

Course Fee

Approximately $3,750, which includes the following in-country expenses for the 3 weeks of the program: tuition and speakers, classroom facilities, accommodations, transportation, some meals, course-related events, and activities and orientation costs.

Additional Expenses (costs not included in the course fee)
Approximately $1,900 to include airfare to and from Václav Havel Airport Prague (approx. $1,200), individual meals (~$500), passport expenses, transportation to and from U.S. airport, and personal expenses. 

How to Apply

Short-term field course application deadlines and instructions

Full Course Description

Two cities with complicated histories, rich cultures, and promising futures will become case studies for this unique opportunity in global education.

Among the theoretical foundations of this course will be the ever-shifting paradigm of center and periphery in relation to the European political and cultural power. The Czech Republic and Poland, although tracing their roots to ancient kingdoms, are the products of a series of dramatic changes that occurred in less than a century: heirs of republics created after the collapse of the multiethnic Habsburg Empire in World War I, occupied or annexed by Nazi Germany, and then subjugated by the communist Soviet Union. Today, both are members of NATO as well as the European Union.

Prague and Kraków, though less famed in the west than Paris, London, or Berlin, were unique and powerful hubs of European culture and history; they were the homes of the two oldest universities in Central Europe; the seats of ancient monarchies; and cultural centers that were home to or attracted figures as diverse as Petrarch, Copernicus, Mozart, and Kafka. The multiethnic character of these cities contributed to their cultural dynamism and to periodic social tensions. Both cities were home to Slavs and Germans, and to thriving Jewish communities from the Middle Ages until the Holocaust. Both locales, renowned for the beauty of their setting and architecture from the Middle Ages to the present, survived World War II physically almost unscathed, and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

We will pay particular attention to museums, monuments, and historic sites, inquiring not just into the past but also into the way that physical legacy and cultural memory have shaped succeeding generations.

Ideal for concentrators in history, arts and literature, social science, ethnic studies, Jewish and Holocaust studies. In addition to the course being registered on a Hampshire transcript, students will also receive formal academic transcripts acknowledging their work from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

Cumulative Skills

  • Writing and Research
  • Multiple cultural perspectives

Academic Expectations

Students are expected to participate in all formal course learning activities and excursions. Students may produce rigorous diaries, short responses, or assignments. The principal outcome of the learning experience will, however, be an independent project. 

Program Itinerary


Travel Plans

Students are expected to book their own travel arrangements to and from Václav Havel Airport Prague. Program representatives will assist them in travel from and to the airport once on-site. Specific travel instructions and requirements will be provided once the course is confirmed.

Housing Arrangements

Participants will be housed in 2- to 3-star hotels or high-quality hostels; double or triple rooms.

Pre-departure Preparation

There will be at least one group meeting with the faculty directors prior to departure to go over academic expectations, country-specific information, and travel plans. Students are also required to participate in a session with GEO on culture and identity, health and safety, study abroad policies, and important travel information.


Questions about the application and selection process or financial aid should be directed to the global education office:

Heather St. Germaine

Questions regarding the academic content or itinerary should be directed to the faculty directors:

James Wald 

Stay In Touch
With The Global Education Office (GEO)
Snail Mail
Global Education Office
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002