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  • Locations: Prague, Czech Republic
  • Program Terms: Spring Quarter
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Description:
sociology italy
 Location Prague, Czech Republic
Spring Quarter
March 27 – June 3, 2017
 Estimated    Program Fee $5,700 (includes $300 CHID fee)
 Credits 15 UW credits
 Prerequisites N/A
 Program      Directors Vera Sokolova; Michael Lee Smith; Vendula Vondraskova
 Program Manager Darielle Horsey |
 Application    Deadline November 15, 2016
 Information  Session(s) October 24, 12:00-1:00, Padelford C101.
  General In-depth and engaging program based in Prague with four 4-day international trips to Vienna, Krakow, Berlin and Budapest, focusing on issues of ethnic and national diversity, human rights, constructions of public space, and current political tensions in Europe.
Where You Will Study
Expenses, Financial Aid, & Scholarships

  Visas This country is part of the Schengen area. Please click here to learn more about important rules and restrictions for foreign visitors to this area.

Program Description

A medieval cultural capital located in the heart of Europe, yet for decades locked seemingly far away behind the Iron Curtain, Prague has a magical flair like no other. Relatively spared from natural disasters and war, Prague boasts magnificent architecture preserved from its distant past, and is the home to world class theatres (think Mozart), labyrinthine cobble-stoned streets (think Kafka), and tucked-away bars, gardens and cafés where you can contemplate the meaning of it all. One of the things that makes Prague special is its contradictions: it’s both big as well as cozy, it’s rich as well as poor, both “Eastern” and “Western”, quiet and wild, and really old yet unmistakably reconfigured by the communist regime (1948-1989) as well as the capitalist system that replaced it.

The Prague Program, which is one of the oldest CHID study abroad programs at UW (since 1996), is all about immersing yourself in Prague and the other great Central European cities – Vienna, Krakow, Budapest and Berlin, where we will go on 4-day trips each – in order to develop a complex understanding of the dynamic historical, cultural and political life of Central Europe as a whole. The program itself is strongly anchored in the philosophy of CHID: it combines academically rigorous seminar-style courses, international field trips aimed at provoking personal reflection and exploration, and cultural events that transform our program into a living community. We focus on key issues that resonate well beyond Central Europe: the tragedy of the Holocaust, the nature and impact of the communist system, the hopes and tensions of the European Union, and how coming to terms with the past is reflected in the cultural and art scene we witness today.

We also reflect on the very meaning of Central Europe. Does Central Europe even exist? The question has for over a century occupied European intellectuals like Walter Benjamin or Milan Kundera, and continued to be reframed by the World Wars, a divided Europe during the Cold War, and the contemporary European integration. We travel to Vienna, Krakow, Budapest and Berlin to explore the commonality and diversity of Central Europe and to see how, as Christa Wolf expressed it, today is the last day of the past.

The Prague program is intensive both academically and experientially, often at the same time. The classes directly connect, for example, with our talks with journalists at Radio Free Europe in Prague or diplomats at the U.S. mission to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) in Vienna. We discuss class readings with activists at the European Roma Rights Center in Budapest as well as with lawyers from the Transparency International in Prague. We visit women’s and queer rights activists in Krakow, local artists in Prague, and “green” squatters in the famous wagon commune Schwarzerkanal in Berlin. What might seem abstract at one moment becomes crystal clear the next when we walk through Auschwitz, visit a Stasi prison, witness street demonstrations, or explore the remnants of the Berlin wall.

Thus, to a large degree, the site, or rather the sites ARE the academic contents of the program. But we do all of this with a heavy dose of fun: we go biking in Vienna, Krakow and Berlin, experience Budapest’s Turkish baths and explore the cave system underneath the city, visit Vienna’s Habsburg palaces, and see opera and ballet in Prague’s beautiful theaters. We also encourage students to go on short-term trips to other wonderful places in the Czech Republic during the three-day weekends. Through this immersion, we hope that students in the program not only critically explore the intersections of rich and complex Central European history, society, and politics, but also, in the process, become themselves transformed by the places, people and ideas they encounter.

We believe for this immersion experience it’s absolutely crucial that the students don’t feel like tourists but instead live the same way regular Prague residents do. During the Prague program our students thus live in rented private residential apartments, centrally located in the heart of Prague. 4-5 students share two-bedroom apartments, all with fully equipped kitchens, bathrooms with showers or bathtubs, washing machines, living rooms with TV/SAT, and free internet. (The location of our classroom is within 20 minutes by walk or a short tram ride from all student apartments.)

The program fee covers most expenses connected with the international field trips (travel, housing, museums and other entrance fees, all breakfasts and a few group meals, etc.), student accommodation in the above-described apartments, 3-month public transportation pass in Prague, tickets to selected cultural events (opera, ballet, concerts, museums), and reading packs for all three classes.

For more information, please visit our program website:


Prague, Czech Republic


Prague, Vienna, Krakow, Berlin, and Budapest.


We believe it’s absolutely crucial for the immersion experience on a study abroad program that the students feel like residents of Prague and consider Prague their home. It’s important that they don’t feel like tourists passing through the city or exchange students, living in dorms. During the Prague program the students thus live in private residential apartments, which we rent from a housing agency called “Happy House Rentals” ( Students live by 4-5 in one apartment and always share a bedroom with one roommate (in large apartments sometimes with two). We make sure all students have the same private and common living space in their respective apartments. All apartments are centrally located in the heart of Prague. All have fully equipped kitchens, bathrooms with showers or bathtubs, a washing machine, living room with TV/SAT and free internet.


Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

Students from all disciplines can and have participated successfully and all are encouraged to apply. The program is especially attractive to students of Comparative History of Ideas, European politics, international relations, sociology, law and justice, post-communist studies, European history, economics, communications, art history, and business. On previous programs, however, we also had students majoring in chemistry, music, pre-med and pre-law or computer engineering.

Given the fact that the program offers CHID 390 colloquium, we hope the Prague Program would be particularly attractive for students majoring in CHID.

Since the Prague program prides itself on being academically rigorous, we highly value and encourage to apply all students, who are interested in the academic dimension of studying in Central Europe.

Since Czech is a difficult and marginal language, no prior knowledge of Czech is required or expected.

In terms of physical activities, we go on three 5-hour bike trips through Prague, Vienna, Krakow and Berlin. All bike trips are really easy and fun going on flat surface. However, it is highly advisable that the students coming to Prague know how to bike so that they can participate in these great activities. (In case that a student does not know how to ride a bike we do not exclude the student but rent a tandem bike). In Budapest, we explore the underground cave system under the city, accompanied by professional and experienced guides. All students are informed in advance about the physical nature of these activities. Needless to say, neither of these activities is mandatory and for students, who do not feel comfortable either with biking or caving, we always have an alternative, equally fun and enriching activity plan.


15 Credits


HSTEU 490 or CHID 471 A (5 credits): East European Communism and Everyday Life

This class is an intensive introductory course to the post-WWII history of East Central Europe with a special emphasis on Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and (East and West) Germany. Through visual culture, oral history and site visits the class concentrates on the rise of communism in the Soviet bloc countries following the end of WWII and its subsequent gradual and diverse development in the following four decades. The class emphasizes both similarities and differences of the communist experience and everyday lives in different East European countries and leads the students to think critically about communism, the Cold War and the practices and methods of State socialism. We will focus on the issues of collaboration and resistance, complicity and responsibility, legacy and change, in order to see how these shape and complicate the notion of a national history, collective identity and individual agency. By examining the relationships between the state, society and the individual in various countries, the course works against the simplistic binary of "regime" vs. "people" and "East" vs. "West" to see what these reveal about the nature and reality of the Communist regimes in postwar Eastern Europe. An integral part of this class is a Film Seminar, exploring and contrasting contemporary post-1989 cinematography with the (New Wave Czech) cinema of the 1960s and the mainstream communist films of the 1970s and 1980s.

Learning Goals: 

In the course of the program, students should develop a complex understanding of the dynamic historical, cultural and political life of Central Europe as a whole. All three classes are carefully designed and prepared together, both in terms of contents and requirements, to match this goal. HSTEU 490 leads the students to study in depth and think critically, and comparatively, about major 20th-century events (such as WWII, the Holocaust, expulsions of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe, Cold War, rise of the Soviet empire and its demise, treatment of the Roma, etc.). All classes combine academically rigorous lectures and discussion seminars with international field trips aimed at provoking personal reflection and exploration. In addition, all classes are accompanied by cultural events that transform our program into a living community. The learning goals of the courses (and the program as a whole) thus go beyond the academics to encourage students to translate what they learn in the classroom into active participation in the surrounding local life and civil society.

HSTEU 490 course has two 5-page papers and a 2-hr in-class final exam. Students are expected to actively participate in discussion seminars, which reveal whether they have done and understood the assigned readings. Every student also leads one seminar discussion (in pairs) in order to develop leadership and argumentative skills.

POLS 495 or CHID 471 B (5 credits): Democracy and its Discontents in Central and Eastern Europe

This class examines the interaction between democratization and the politics of economic development in Central and Eastern Europe. After the collapse of communism, democratic and economic reforms took place simultaneously and rapidly, leading to a host of urgent problems and consequences their designers did not always predict, such as increases in economic inequality, unemployment, nationalism and an increased sense of insecurity and injustice by large segments of post-communist societies. These phenomena have, in turn, provided a base of support for reinvigorated communist parties and irredentist movements, as well as provoked disillusionment with the democratic process. In exploring the complex intersections of recent social, political and economic transformation, we will pay particular attention to the role of civil society and membership in the European Union in shaping the democratic futures of post-communist societies. An integral part of our class will be visits to important Czech NGOs.

Learning Goals: 

In the course of the program, students should develop a complex understanding of the dynamic historical, cultural and political life of Central Europe as a whole. All three classes are carefully designed and prepared together, both in terms of contents and requirements, to match this goal. POLSCI 495 leads the students to study in depth and think critically, and comparatively, about major events in Central Europe in the recent past (collapse of communism, expansion of the European Union and NATO, democratization of Eastern Europe, conflict in Ukraine, etc.). All classes combine academically rigorous lectures and discussion seminars with international field trips aimed at provoking personal reflection and exploration. In addition, all classes are accompanied by cultural events that transform our program into a living community. The learning goals of the courses (and the program as a whole) thus go beyond the academics to encourage students to translate what they learn in the classroom into active participation in the surrounding local life and civil society.

POLSCI 495 course has two 4-page papers, 1-page write-up on a participatory activity (attending civil society or NGO event) and a 1-hr in-class final exam. Students are expected to actively participate in discussion seminars which reveal whether they have done and understood the assigned readings.

CHID 390 (5 credits): Colloquium in the History of Ideas: Collective Memory and Public Space

This CHID 390 colloquium is a reading and discussion course that will focus on the relationship between collective memory and the constructions of public space. We will explore how memory and commemorative practices of recent traumatic events (concretely the Holocaust, WWII, expulsion of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the Stalinist Purge Trials of the 1950s) shape the construction of public space(s) in the countries of Central Europe and how the public space (through monuments and memorials) in turn affects the way people and states selectively remember and forget those events. Central Europe has a vast reservoir of actual physical sites to examine these specific relationships. Given the many sharply contesting historical and ideological (spatial) narratives of the past, which are continuously produced, used and abused in the region, the Prague Program with its four international trips to Vienna, Krakow, Budapest and Berlin is the ideal context in which to examine the questions of memory and space as mutually constructed and interrelated processes.

In the classroom, we will look at a variety of texts – theoretical essays, memoirs, popular media, and literary texts that reveal and problematize a range of ways of remembering (and forgetting, for that matter) and its translation into commemorative practices, as well as study the analytical frameworks and questions for interrogating monuments and memorials as “texts”, “arenas” and “performances”. We will complement these readings and their discussions by hands-on explorations of relevant monuments, museums and other cultural and historical sites in Prague but mainly during our trips.

Learning Goals: 

In CHID 390 course we employ three interconnected critical practices: reading, talking, and writing, all of which will work together to create and sustain a learning community in Prague, one in which all of us will gain an enhanced ability to “think out loud” and develop thoughts and ideas through productive and supportive discussions. Discussion is one of the central pedagogical methods of this course. Students are encouraged and expected to actively participate in the intensive discussion-style seminars by posing questions about the readings and our field trips, leading one seminar session (in pairs) and critically reacting to their peers’ comments in the sessions. In CHID 390 students write four reflection papers corresponding with the bloc themes and our international field trips. These papers are assigned for two main reasons. First, to demonstrate that students have completed and thought about the assigned readings and second, to give them a forum to engage in an idea or set of ideas that interest them and captured their attention while on the trip.

Program Directors & Staff

Vera Sokolova, Department of CHID, Program Director

Vera Sokolova is an Associate Professor of History and the chair of the Department of Gender Studies at Charles University in Prague. She received her Ph.D. in history at UW in 2002 and has directed the CHID Prague Program since 2003. Her research and publications focus on discursive and commemorative practices in Eastern Europe during the communist period, especially in terms of human rights, treatment of minorities and relationship between memory and space. She is active in Czech public life, especially in areas of gender equality, ethnic discrimination, sexual rights and visual culture.

Michael Lee Smith, Department of CHID, Program Co-Director

Michael Smith is a senior researcher in political science and sociology at the prestigious CERGE Economic Institute and senior analyst at the ISEA (Institute for Social and Economic Analysis) think tank in Prague. He received his Ph.D. in political science at The New School of Social Research in New York in 2007, his M.A. in philosophy at Boston College and B.A.s in CHID, Comparative Religion and Philosophy at UW. His research and publication interests focus on direct democracy, political financing and corruption in the ECE region, and comparative studies of stratification and inequalities in education worldwide.

Vendula Vondraskova, Program Assistant and Student Housing Coordinator

Vendula Vondraskova is a native of the Czech Republic. She received her M.A. in physiotherapy and sports management at Charles University in Prague in 2006. Currently, she is a yoga and outdoor instructor, as well as an English as a Second Language teacher in Prague. In addition, she is very active in the Czech cultural and recreational scene. Her main responsibilities are to function as a student housing support and coordinator.

Program Expenses

Cost: $5,700

Estimated Program Fee of $5,700, the UW Study Abroad Fee ($350), airfare, food (about $10/day), UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money.

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,200 - $1,600* roundtrip

*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
CHID Fee $300 April 14, 2017
Non-Refundable Study Abroad Fee $350 April 14, 2017
Program Fee Balance $5,400 April 14, 2017


To be eligible to study abroad, all program participants must attend an in-person pre-departure orientation facilitated by the Study Abroad office as well as your program-specific orientations, offered by your program director.

You must register for orientation through your online study abroad account in order to attend scheduled orientations. You can visit the Orientation section of our website to view the current orientation schedule.

Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions might not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office.

Financial aid and most scholarships are disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you prior to your departure. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed at the start of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare, health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you are making plans.

Revision Request

In some instances you may qualify for an increase in your financial aid award (typically in loan funds). Check with the Financial Aid Office about your options. To request a revision in your aid, you will need to submit the following paperwork to the Financial Aid Office:

  1. Revision Request Form
  2. Budget of student expenses for your program: The UW Study Abroad Office will upload this budget to your study abroad account after a signed contract has been submitted to the UW Study Abroad Office. You can request an unofficial copy of this budget by emailing

Visit the Finances section of our website to learn more about disbursement, revising your aid package, short-term loans and scholarships.

Application Process

The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, one to two recommendations from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.


UW Study Abroad is not responsible for obtaining visas for study abroad program participants. The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. You can do so by calling the consular offices of those countries or checking the following website:

Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. You can check the following website to find contact information for the consulate of the country you will be visiting:

For non-U.S. citizens, the procedures that you will need to follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.

Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation for this program, contact Disability Resources for Students at least 8 weeks in advance of your departure date. Contact info at


$350 of the total program fee and the $350 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable and non-revocable once a contract has been submitted, even if you withdraw from the program. Students withdrawing from a program are responsible for paying a percentage of the program fee depending on the date of withdrawal. More details about the withdrawal policy are included in your payment contract. No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun. The date of withdrawal is considered the date (business day) a withdrawal form is received by the UW Study Abroad Office. Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing by completing the following steps:

1. Provide notice in writing to the Program Director that you will no longer be participating in the program for which you have signed a contract and accepted a slot.

2. Submit a signed withdrawal form to the UW Study Abroad Office, 459 Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.