Dear students, educators, and parents,
There is no doubt that study abroad has become indispensable to a well-rounded college education. It does not much matter whether a student majors in economics or humanities – a well-crafted study abroad experience results in personal growth and enhanced understanding of the Other so necessary in the world we live in. These are not just empty phrases for us, as you will see when you read the section Goals and Principles.
One of the specific features of our program is that it is not only designed but also run by a tight body of academicians with extensive experience in study abroad on four continents. And as teachers, we focus first and foremost on the academic content of the program, its interconnectedness with practical life, and on personal guidance of young people on the threshold to adulthood.
The Intercultural Studies Honors Program at Charles University in Prague is located in the capital of the Czech Republic. It owes its origin and philosophy to the co-operation between Charles University and Interfuture, an American educational institution specialized in providing cultural immersion through guided research projects performed by individual undergraduates on three different continents over the period of 9 months. The Program is sponsored by the College of Social Sciences, currently the most progressive and sought after college at Charles University.
Charles University in Prague is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Central Europe. Its 17 different faculties attract approximately 47,000 Czech students and 4,500 international students annually (http://www.cuni.cz). Our program is offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. It was first offered in 2004 and to date has over 200 alumni.
The Intercultural Studies Honors Program at Charles University in Prague has a unique position amongst all other study-abroad programs in the Czech Republic due to the following five features:
1) our students enroll in 2 mandatory core courses and 3-4 elective courses selected from over 300 courses taught in English at Charles University in Prague. Students can also choose from a number of courses taught in other languages. Students of Western history, economics, politics, culture, literature, language, philosophy, or law can attend seminars at several departments of territorial and cultural studies. Non-Europeans have a revealing opportunity to study the principles of European integration and the institutions of the European Union within the EU itself.
The offerings of other study-abroad programs in English provide no match for this, either in number or in variety.
In our core courses, our students from non-European locales (East Asia, U.S.A.) are intermixed with Czech and European students in a ratio of approximately 2:1 (max. 20 students per class). In electives, there are many more Czech and European students than non-Europeans.
2) we require students to take 2 mandatory core courses. These courses give students a necessary grounding in Central European history, ways of life, and thinking. Knowing the place, the history of its inhabitants, provides students with much-needed sense of inner security and also helps them to perform well at school. Other study-abroad programs in the Czech Republic lack this core; students can choose whatever 5 courses that attracttheir attention. Many end up with little understanding of the cultural and intellectual dynamics of this part of the world.
The first core course — Imperial Nations and Subject Peoples: Czechs in the Austrian Empire and After — is designed to get students acquainted with the history and culture of Central Europe, of the territory formerly occupied by the Austrian Empire, and explores at length the process of national individuation, taking the Czech nation as an apt example. The second course — Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in American History and Literature — parallels the first one and offers a comparison of the American and European understandings of and experiences with the categories of “nation,” “ethnicity,” and “race” in the past 200 years. Non-Western students can thus learn about European and American cultural paradigms, and at the same time, both teach and learn about the founding principles and practices of their own civilizations.
In addition, students may be required by their home campus to carry out individual field research projects etc. The program’s instructors provide maximum support for these projects, including the arrangement of interviews with individuals important in a given field.
3) our program has an intimate atmosphere, created by limiting participation to a maximum of 12 non-European students per semester. Any more students would compromise the intensity of involvement with each student both inside and outside the classroom.
4) there is no division between the faculty and the administrators of the program. There are 3 permanent faculty members who team-teach the two core-courses (2 Czech and 1 American, 2 female and 1 male) with long experience in teaching foreign students. Besides teaching, they guide students on trips chosen to complement subject matter that is being currently discussed in the classroom. These instructors also help students to resolve day-to-day issues and general inquiries. Clearly, their interaction with students is deep and results in a high level of trust and respect.
5) it is a program for honors students and highly-motivated students with the support of their home institutions. We put great emphasis on the maturity and very good academic standing because they greatly assist students in coming to an in-depth understanding of their new environment. That is why we accept only students with a GPA of 3.3 or higher (a few other individuals with overall GPA above 3.0 can be accommodated provided they can demonstrate appropriate motivation and skills).
Students stay in a Charles University international dormitory (Kolej Komenskeho) and have access to the University’s dining halls throughout the city.
Intercultural Studies Program’s staff includes a “dorm mother” — a Czech woman fluent in English – who lives in the dormitory and helps students both in emergencies and with ordinary dormitory life. In addition, she directs students to worthwhile cultural activities, since she is well connected with the artistic community.
The founder and academic director of the program is prof. David Robbins (Ph.D. Yale University), Professor of European History and of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at Charles University in Prague. Dr. Robbins was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1994 to teach in the American Cultural Studies program at the Liberal Arts Faculty, where since 1998 he has served as visiting director and faculty member.
The curriculum includes 2 mandatory classes:
Imperial Nations and Subject Peoples: Czechs in the Austrian Empire and After (17th-20th centuries)
- Race, Ethicity, and Gender in American History and Literature
These are further complemented by 3-4 electives that students choose out of an offering of approximately 300 courses taught in English at Charles University. Charles University issues transcripts; credits transfer as ungraded credits on the home university transcripts — unless the home campus of a participating student decides to give graded credit for the two core courses.
The mandatory core courses carry credit of 6 ECTS units (3 American semester hours) each. The electives vary in credit value; but in addition to the core courses, students can register for 24 more ECTS units (12 American semester hours). Students learn the basics of the Czech language in a 10-day Survival Czech linguistic/cultural workshop, and they can continue to study Czech in a semester-long course.
The program tuition also covers 4 excursions to sites in the Czech Republic and partially also a trip to Vienna (transportation to and in Vienna, admission tickets). The reason is that these trips complement in-class learning, since they are tied closely to the core-course subject matter currently under discussion. For a detailed description of these trips, go to Fall/Spring Cultural Excursions.
The summer semester program is very intensive. Classes meet 4 days a week, students have 2-4 hours of classes each day. Additional information on local culture and history is mediated during guided cultural excursions that take place almost every weekend. Again, tuition includes 4 guided trips in the Czech Republic, and a trip to Vienna (room and board excluded). For a detailed description of these trips, go to Summer Cultural Excursions.
Summer semester students attend 2 mandatory courses:
- Imperial Nations and Subject Peoples: Czechs in the Austrian Empire and After
- Race, Ethicity, and Gender in American History and Literature.
These courses are taught by the same instructors who teach core courses during the spring and fall semesters. The respective universities of participating students determine the cost per semester hour of credit for the summer semester program. The section Program Costs lists all other expenses associated with the stay.
Applications are evaluated the program director, Dr. David Robbins. They must be submitted to him preferably by e-mail by the following dates:
- Fall semester: April 1
- Spring semester: October 15
- Summer semester: March 1
This website should answer most of your initial questions. Peruse all sections carefully. If you need more information, please e-mail/call/arrange an appointment with our contact persons. (see Contact Information).