Czech Republic: Arts and Social Change

"Through the SIT Czech Republic program we were exposed to diverse sections of society, opinions, and mediums through which to interpret post-socialist life. From conversations about the Roma minority with my host mother to discussing public policy toward the arts with studio artists, I saw hands-on what it looks like to rebuild a nation after socialism.  I came back with a more well-rounded education and the tools to dive further into studies of post-socialist problems, such as writing an honor’s thesis on the institutional failure of Czech public policy in regards to the Roma minority after the 1989 Revolution."

-- Elise Randall, Colby College

Create, analyze, and contextualize art in Prague.

Study with a dynamic community of visual, performing, and literary artists, where art and creative dissent have played a decisive role in shaping social and political change.

This program engages students of the humanities, studio arts, and social sciences with the history, and visual, performing, and literary arts of the Czech Republic. Students are immersed in the country’s contemporary arts scene while uncovering its rich artistic heritage.

Learn from leading artists, writers, and academics in theaters and art centers
Students engage with artists, civic leaders, and leading academics who share lessons learned from their experiences as visual artists, underground musicians, writers, and political dissidents confronting and contributing to the fall of a communist regime.

Lecturers explore topics such as:

  • How the roles of artists and civic leaders have transformed in a new democracy
  • Critical challenges associated with liberal democracy and the legacy of communism
  • Art in relation to open borders, consumerism, and the free market of post-communist Europe

Multiple opportunities for artistic production
Students participate in art exhibition openings, workshops, festivals, and other arts and cultural programs. See a list of the museums, galleries, theaters, and festivals (PDF) that are part of this program. See a list of the visual and performing arts studios (PDF) where SIT students can participate in workshops and classes.

North Bohemia, drum lessons in the square

Confront the intersection of arts and politics, past and present
Students are challenged to consider the relationship between art, politics, and society in its historic and contemporary contexts through activities such as:

  • Examining the secret police files and photo file exhibitions of The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and the documentary projects at the Memory of the Nation project
  • Discussing the social and political context of art first hand with former dissidents and contemporary performing and visual artists such as the Plastic People of the Universe, Tomas Ruller, Kristof Kintera, and Alena Kotzmannova
  • Engaging directly in the cultural life of Prague by attending theater and contemporary dance performances as well as visual arts exhibition openings
  • Volunteering at arts festivals where arts and contemporary social issues intersect. Festivals include Refufest, focused on intercultural dialog and the integration of foreigners in Europe, and the Indian Summer festival featuring theater, music, and visual arts aimed at raising awareness of mental illness in Prague.

Immersion in Czech culture
Students are fully immersed in Czech culture not only through practical experience with artists but also through Czech language instruction and homestays with host families, which include civic leaders, artists, and designers. By living with Czech families, students gain a personal view of contemporary social issues, the arts, and the lasting impact of communism on Czech society.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Prague

Language Study: Czech

Prerequisites: For visual arts, photography, and dance studio work, background in the area of study is required. Students enrolling in creative writing must be majors or minors in writing. For all students, previous survey courses in European history or arts histor Read more...

Czech Republic

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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