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 Intercultural Studies 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 Program¬†is an honors study-abroad initiative¬†undertaken by Charles University in Prague and Intercultural Studies for the¬†Future. Charles University 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). InterFuture (Intercultural Studies for the Future) is an international education organization which specializes in providing alternatives to traditional study-abroad experience. It is based in the U.S.A. and has many¬†national sites¬†worldwide (http://www.interfuture.org/). The Intercultural Studies Semester in Prague Program is offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters in the Czech Republic‚Äôs capital Prague. The program was first offered in 2004 and to date has 197 alumni.
The Intercultural Studies Program has a unique position amongst all other study-abroad programs in the Czech Republic due to the following¬†five features:
1) it provides students with access to approximately 300 courses taught in English at Charles University in Prague. Students can also choose from a number of¬†courses taught in other languages. The offerings of other study-abroad¬†programs in the Czech Republic¬†are limited,¬†in great measure developed with the American constituency in mind,¬†and¬†are rarely¬†attended by Czech¬†and other¬†European students.
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 in an environment that seems misleadingly similar and yet, is very different from what they are used to.¬†These core courses form¬†the core of the students’ academic experience.¬†¬†Other study-abroad programs in the Czech Republic lack this core; students can choose whatever 5 courses that attract their attention — just like at home. Many end up with little understanding of the cultural and intellectual dynamics of this part of the world.
Due to this intense guided¬†cultural immersion, our program¬†has proved to be very attractive for American students with some Czech background. Second and third generation frequently wishes to learn about the land of their forefathers and this is a perfect opportunity.
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 lenght the process of national individuation, taking the Czech experience as an apt example.¬† The second course¬† — ¬†Race,¬†Ethicity,¬†and¬†Gender in¬†American History and Literature — contrasts and compares American¬†and European understandings of and experiences with¬†the categories of “nation”, “ethnicity”, and “race” in the past 200 years.
In addition, students may be required by their home campus to carry out¬† individual field research projects on Czech literature, culture, arts, politics 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.¬†So far we have opened only one class each semester with a maximum of 12 students.¬†¬†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 teach the¬†two core courses (2 Czech and 1 American, 2 female and 1 male) with long experience in teaching foreign¬† students and in crafting and running study-abroad programs on four continents. 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 students with excellent study record.¬†We put great emphasis on the maturity and very good academic¬†standing of¬† program’s participants. Such abilities 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 GPAs above 3.0 can be accommodated provided they can demonstrate appropriate motivation and skills).¬† Despite this high standard,¬†the program already has 197 alumni.¬†
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 who lived for over 35 years in the U.S.A. She stays at the dormitory and¬† helps students¬†both in emergencies¬†(for instance, takes them to receive medical treatment)¬†or with ordinary dormitory life. In addition, she directs students to¬†worth-while cultural activities since she is well connected with the artistic community.¬†¬†She also has access to last-minute, discounted tickets to theater/opera performances. ¬†
The founder and academic director of the program is Dr. David Robbins, Professor of European History and of Ahglophone Literatures and Cultures at Charles University in Prague. Dr. Robbins was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1994 to teach in the American Sultural 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¬†3-5 electives that students choose out of an offering of approximately¬†300 courses taught in English¬†at¬†Charles University. Charles University issues transcripts; credits show up 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 which are¬†certainly as demanding¬†as a standard 300-level¬†course.¬†
Mandatory core courses are¬†3 semester hours each; the electives¬†vary in semester-hour credit, but together consitute a bloc of 6-10 semester hours of credit.¬†Students learn the basics of the Czech language in a 10-day Survival Czech language course and they can continue to learn the language 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).