Study Abroad in Prague this Summer!

The Department of Political Science offers a six-week summer study program in Prague, which is the capital of the Czech Republic and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The program runs from June 22 – August 3, and involves two political science courses, for which students earn 6 Villanova credits. The courses are taught by full-time Villanova faculty, which means that they are taken for a letter grade (not a ‘T’ transfer grade), and they are directly applicable to the PSC major as an Area 1 distribution or elective. The two courses offered this summer are:

PSC 4875-001 Genocide and Mass Killing (Dixon, 3 credits)
PSC 6150-001/ENG 2790 Politics and Literature (Simmons, 3 credits)

Classes are held in an Augustinian monastery located in the center of Prague, and students live nearby in shared apartments with full kitchen facilities to prepare meals and close access to a range of local cafes and restaurants. Central Prague is a pedestrian-friendly city with excellent local transit, so it is easy to get around. Moreover, no Czech language skills are required. The cosmopolitan environment of Prague makes it possible to get by in English, which makes the Prague program a wonderful opportunity to study, travel, and learn in a foreign environment.

From Prague’s location in the heart of Europe, you can easily visit many of the great cities of Western and Eastern Europe in weekend trips or before or after the program. This year, there will be a scheduled weekend trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial and to the nearby Polish city of Krakow. In addition, we will plan a couple of excursions within the verdant Czech Republic. Aside from these scheduled trips, in past years students have visited Warsaw, Linz, Dresden, Budapest, and Munich on their own during open weekends.

The cost of the 6-week-long program is $5,500, which includes tuition, housing, and excursions. On a per-credit basis, this is less expensive than credits taken on campus at Villanova. Moreover, through the generosity of Villanova alumnus and PSC major Michael C. Linn, full and partial scholarships are available on the basis of financial need (as determined by the Office of Financial Assistance).

If you would like to learn more about the program, please contact Dr. Dixon ( or Prof. Simmons ( The application deadline is March 31st, and the application form is available here:

PSC 6150-001/ENG 2790: Politics and Literature (3 credits), Professor Mary Beth Simmons “From Kafka to Kundera: How the Politics of Prague Shaped Czech Writers”

Is literature born from political rebellion or oppression considered art? This is simply one of the many questions we will discuss in a course that covers the challenges and limitations of something we most likely take for granted: freedom of speech and expression. We will read poets, politicians, playwrights, novelists, and essayists who have all been transformed by the politics of the Czech Republic. How does the legacy of communism inspire a writer? How did the student-fueled rebellion of the Prague Spring in 1968 or the Velvet Revolution in 1989 change the course of history for the country—and the world? Visits to important sites in Prague (the Kafka museum, the locations of the student protests) will energize and enhance our in-class discussions and understandings of the texts. Students will write a number of short, one-page reaction papers to our readings; two longer, critical papers responding to the texts and class discussions; and one cumulative paper reflecting on the overall coursework and life in Prague.


Chatwin: Utz
Hampl: A Romantic Education
Hrabal: Too Loud a Solitude
Kafka: Metamorphosis, The Trial, and selected short stories
Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Neruda: Prague Tales
Rilke: Letters to a Young Poet
Stoppard: Rock ‘n’ Roll

PSC 4875-001: Genocide and Mass Killing (3 credits), Dr. Jennifer M. Dixon

What are the causes of genocide and mass killing? Do certain contexts make genocide or mass killing more likely to occur? Why do leaders decide to commit genocide or mass killing? Why do individuals participate in genocidal violence? What happens in the aftermath of genocide and mass killing? This seminar is designed to introduce students to the central debates and questions in the study of genocide and mass killing, focusing on the questions posed above. In our discussions, we will consider the domestic and international contexts within which genocide and mass killing occur, the motivations and rationales of leaders and individual perpetrators, and the ways in which the international community responds to such violence. Throughout the course, we will consider the identities of victim groups, and the processes through which perpetrators construct victims as ‘enemies’ and ‘threats’ to the nation, to the state, or to the achievement of a highly-valued goal. Given our location in central Europe, the course will focus on three European cases: the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the ethnic cleansing and genocidal violence during the collapse of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. In addition to our readings and in-depth discussions, the course will include an afternoon trip to the Theresienstadt concentration camp memorial outside of Prague, and a weekend trip to visit the Auschwitz- Birkenau concentration camp memorial and the nearby city of Krakow, Poland.


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