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This program will allow you to choose either an arts-based research project that integrates research methods with creative writing or visual or performing arts practice or, alternately, a field-based research project using traditional qualitative research methods. You will be immersed in the Czech Republic’s contemporary art scene and given the opportunity to explore the country’s rich artistic heritage. You will also be challenged to consider the relationship between art, politics, and society in the country’s historic and contemporary contexts.
Through experiential learning opportunities such as attending dance performances and art exhibits, discussing underground theater and literature with my professors, and casual conversations with my host mom, I observed and experienced firsthand what my classes were teaching about Czech culture and history. The Independent Study Project allowed me to explore my topic of interest, mental health care, in the Czech cultural context — a very unique experience that has strongly shaped my future academic and career paths.
Betsy Davis, Southwestern University
Prague is well known for its stunning architecture, and this program will allow you to see it firsthand while also bringing you behind the city’s historical façade. You will attend cultural activities, festivals, and art shows, which are off the beaten track and represent an alternative and creative culture.
In Prague, you will live with host families and take part in lectures and seminars on topics related to the history of the arts and social change in the Czech Republic. If you are enrolled in the arts studio elective course, you will conduct independent creative work during this period.
You also may participate in civic initiatives that draw upon the creative legacy of Czech underground culture. These could include Car-Free Day and European Mobility Week or arts events that raise awareness of marginalized groups, such as the multicultural festival Colorful Planet and the Babi Leto festival at Prague’s psychiatric clinic. Other cultural activities such as theater projects for refugees and contemporary dance, art, and photo exhibitions will help broaden your understanding of Czech history and contemporary life.
Through the program’s foundation seminar, you will examine contemporary arts in the Czech Republic as well as the role art played as an agent of social change throughout the country’s twentieth-century history. You will then be able to delve deeper into these themes through the continuation course where you will visit nonprofit organizations devoted to social change or, alternatively, you can enroll in the program’s Arts Studio course, designed for students of visual and performing arts and creative writing.
During the first month of the semester, you will participate in educational excursions to rural Czech villages in Moravia or Bohemia to learn about the art culture and social reality beyond Prague. You will interact with local residents, community leaders, and artists involved in initiatives for cultural revival and community development. You will also travel to the former Sudetenland to discuss Czech-German cultural relations and to Slovakia, Poland, to conduct comparative studies of these neighboring countries’ arts and civic initiatives.
During the final month of the semester, you will pursue an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP gives you a unique opportunity to work directly with professional artists or social innovators and produce a creative project or, alternately, critically examine a topic, situation, or community related to the arts or social change in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Poland.
Artists, civil society activists, professors, and specialists will help you in the development and implementation of your ISP, which may include daily work with an organization or school or a creative component in visual arts, creative writing, or theater.
Sample topic areas:
Creative projects have included:
The breadth and range of people and lecturers we were introduced to in the context of the thematic seminar was incredible — people in circles connected with the Velvet Revolution, people involved in incredible NGOs, people who were experts in their field … all willing to share their knowledge with us!
You will study the new challenges facing artists and communities today as a result of globalization and tourism. Site visits to artists' studios and theaters, NGO offices, and community centers will expose you to the country's beleaguered arts infrastructure as well as the civic initiatives in place to protect and promote the arts and social transformation.
The program consists of three main components:
Each facet of the program exposes you to different perspectives on the role and evolution of art throughout Central European history and the contemporary arts scene in the Czech Republic.
None. For visual arts, physical theater, and creative writing, a background in the area of study is highly recommended. For all students, previous survey courses in European history or arts history are recommended but not required.
The interdisciplinary coursework for the Czech Republic: Arts and Social Change program focuses on the complex cultural history of the Czech lands and the lasting impact of communism on Czech society. Students participate in intensive language instruction and field-based activities that offer unique insight into key moments in twentieth-century Czech society and culture and the challenges facing the long-celebrated Czech tradition in the visual and performing arts, film, and photography. During the final month of the semester, students leverage their field study experience and research skills to complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) that critically examines a topic related to the program theme. Students have the option to produce creative work for their independent study, such as visual arts and photography, or writing a short story or theater script inspired by their experience and studies of Czech arts and society.
Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.
The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
You will participate in educational excursions during the semester to broaden your perspectives on the connections between art and contemporary society in the Czech Republic and its neighboring Slavic countries. You will experience firsthand the cultural and geographical differences that define the former Czechoslovakia.
You will also have the opportunity to observe and participate in the activities of local NGOs and cultural centers serving as models of creativity in a post-socialist context. Excursions are designed to complement classroom study and field-based activities such as the ISP.
During the weeklong excursion to regional towns and villages in Moravia and/or Bohemia, you will stay with host families or with regional NGOs to gain a better understanding of rural life and to observe community initiatives. You will interact with civic leaders and artists devoted to regional development, cultural revival, and environmental conservation. You may also conduct interviews with local residents and specialists and participate in community activities such as town markets, conferences, or theater productions.
You will visit the historical city of Ceský Krumlov, a UNESCO protected landmark, where you will observe the challenges associated with the city's historical restoration.
In Slovakia, you will spend time in villages nestled among the stunning landscape of the country’s central mountain region.
Highlights of the Slovakia excursion include:
In Krakow, Poland, you will learn about the social and political context of the fall of the communist regime and visit contemporary arts projects such as an alternative theater in Nowa Huta, the city’s famous Stalinist industrial district.
Seminar discussions on the Slovakia and Poland excursion focus on the fall of communism in Central Europe and the vastly different social and political contexts for the Czech, Slovak, and Polish artists before and after 1989.
The program will also travel to an arts center and the so-called lost villages of the former Sudetenland to discuss Czech-German cultural relations today.
A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sarah Brock received her MA in art history from Syracuse University and her BA in art from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in Prague as an art history lecturer, an advisor to Czech NGOs, an arts critic, and a manager of the US Embassy’s nonprofit portfolio and grants program. She also served as co-curator of the exhibition of Czech and Los Angeles artists entitled “Certain Traces: Dialogue 2004.” Her primary research interests are alternative arts spaces in Central Europe and arts-based research methods.
Having lived in Prague during the vital post-communist transition period, Ms. Brock’s work with the SIT Study Abroad program has been greatly influenced by her affiliation with Czech civil society leaders and artists. In her words, “There is no better way to learn about the social and cultural complexity of the post-communist period than to speak directly with specialists or to join them in arts and community programs.”
Ms. Brock became academic director of the Czech Republic program in 2005. In her role as academic director, Ms. Brock oversees every aspect of the program. In addition to giving lectures, coordinating seminars, and structuring educational excursions, Ms. Brock works individually with students to ensure that they develop unique, creative, and academically relevant Independent Study Projects drawing upon the wide range of academic advisors, artists, and NGO activists available to the program.
As program assistant and homestay coordinator, Ms. Krenková supports program implementation and homestays, providing essential communications support to students and families. Having worked in Scotland with the National Piping Association and with Czech NGO projects such as Youth and Environmental Europe, Ms. Krenková brings a unique and relevant experience to her role with the SIT program. She has degrees in humanities and theater anthropology.
Dr. Holá is a specialist and innovator in the field of Czech language study whose series of textbooks, Czech Step by Step I and II and Czech Express, is used as an essential resource for Czech language learning in Europe as well as in American university courses. Dr. Holá holds a doctoral degree in English and Russian languages and early in her career was twice awarded in the Young Translators Competition of Jirí Levý. She has been a member of the Association of Teachers of Czech as a Foreign Language (AUCCJ) since 2002 and served as a vice president of the executive committee from 2005 to 2009. In addition to teaching and publishing activities, Dr. Holá has published numerous articles on teaching Czech as a foreign language, given papers at conferences on her topic in Europe and the United States, and translated books such as Hidden History by Otokar Bezina (Twisted Spoon Publishers, Prague, 2000) and the English sections of The Correspondence of Karel Capek (NLN, Prague, 1995).
The homestay was easily the best part of the program. My host family members were angels and I believe these feelings of friendship and love were reciprocal. They welcomed me whole-heartedly, but also gave me alone time when I needed it.
SIT Study Abroad Czech Republic program alumna
Homestays will help you understand the realities of living in a particular country and will serve as an invaluable tool for language development and cultural immersion. The Czech Republic program includes two homestays: one in the capital city of Prague and one with NGOs and families in the rural villages of Moravia or Bohemia. These homestay experiences will allow you to observe diverse living conditions and social realities while also broadening your understanding of the country's communist history and the post-socialist transition.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels or small hotels, private homes, and arts and NGO centers.
You will live with families in Prague (both urban and suburban areas) for eight weeks in order to experience the Czech lifestyle, culture, and language. Families are chosen based on their interest in the program theme, and many are affiliated with the Prague arts scene as artists or social activists. Students often cite their homestay experiences in Prague as the highlight of their semester, and relationships between host families and students often last long after the program's conclusion. If you are conducting your ISP in Prague, you will remain in your Prague homestay for a total of 12 weeks. If you are conducting your ISP in another location, you will be placed in a homestay at that location or have accommodations with a local organization.
As part of the excursion to rural towns and villages in Bohemia or Moravia, you will live with local families or at NGO facilities. You will interact with NGOs and arts centers and learn about the challenges to social and economic development in the former Sudetenland of Bohemia, regional industrial centers, or historic towns such as Olomouc and Brno. This regional experience will expose you to grassroots social initiatives and arts projects outside of Prague.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.
Program Arrival Date: Jan 29, 2017
Program Departure Date: May 13, 2017
The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.
Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.
Application Deadline: Nov 3, 2016
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $ 150
Books & Supplies: $ 200
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.