At the beginning of each semester, before settling in either Madrid or Florence, students engage in two weeks of travel to major European capitals in order to study the continent’s political and cultural history as well as its impact on the rest of the world. Each semester also includes a separate fieldwork experience in a different country, where students undertake research into specific issues relevant to contemporary European culture and politics.
Travel Highlights for Europe I – Fall Semester
The exploration and experience of Europe’s global impact begins in London, one of the world’s authentically global cities and a leading financial center. London serves as our lens to examine the transition from kingdoms and empires to the modern nation-state. Visits include major museums, the Houses of Parliament, and political organizations. Students gain a deeper understanding of how the British Empire exercised, by the eve of the First World War, political and economic control of over 85% of the world, exporting the English language and culture throughout the Empire. Students also come to understand the way in which this imperial system disintegrated after the Second World War, giving way to the post-colonial world system and the European Union.
Through the lens of Berlin, students compare and contrast constitutional political and economic frameworks of selected European countries in view of their domestic and international histories. Students learn how Germany in the late 19th century became a major economic and military power, destabilizing Europe’s balance of power. This destabilization led to the First and Second World Wars, the Holocaust, the partition of Berlin, and the Cold War. Students are also introduced to a postwar Germany that has struggled to confront this past, re-emerging as a major player in both the contemporary European Union and the global economy. Excursions include visits to the sites that commemorate the crimes of Nazism, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Stiftung Neue Synagogue, the Berlin Wall, and the former East Berlin.
Midway through their stay in Spain, students undertake a two-week excursion to Morocco to carry out the research tied to the course in fieldwork methods. An historical crossroads where Africa, the Middle East, and Europe come together, Morocco has a history of independence not shared by its neighbors. This Arab/African nation’s distinct culture is a blend of Arab, indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan, and French influences. Through research into the Moroccan context, students directly confront two issues that have ongoing impact on contemporary Europe: political Islam and African migration.
Travel Highlights for Europe II – Spring Semester
The first module of the second semester of the Europe Program focuses on the comparative politics of post-World War II Europe, beginning with a two-week module in Vienna and Budapest. Through lectures and experiential programming, students gain a deeper understanding of the national constitutional arrangements that emerged in the postwar era and the role of the European Union in global governance and economic systems. The program will start in the city of Vienna, the world’s third United Nations city, which is the seat of numerous UN programs and various international organizations. We will also visit Budapest, Hungary, which became a global city after its unification in 1873. It was the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I.
Against the background of the capital of the ancient Mediterranean world and headquarters of world Catholicism, students continue their study of the constitutional arrangements that have shaped Europe in the post-WWII era. Through interaction with organizations and political institutions in Rome, students investigate the European Union’s post-national political ideals and its place in the international system. It is also in Rome that the stage is set for students’ study of the relationship among the civilizations that have been shaped by the three Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), a theme that continues throughout the semester.
Students will participate in an International Careers Fair in March, which will comprise of a number of workshops, projects and social events focused on fostering youth involvement regarding international issues and providing them with the experiences and opportunities required to achieve their professional and academic goals.
The excursion to Sarajevo offers students the opportunity to carry out independent research on issues of religious and ethnic reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Until the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, Sarajevo was famous for its traditional cultural and religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Catholicism coexisting in relative peace for centuries. Students explore the way in which this coexistence degenerated into violence and genocide when Yugoslavia fell apart at the end of the Cold War.