Summer Program in Politics, Culture and Literature in Prague

Location: Prague, Czech Republic


Trip Dates: June 30 – August 8, 2014

Scholarships available for this program - speak to the Faculty Program Coordinators for more information!


This 6-week, 6-credit program offers students the opportunity to study politics, culture and society in one of the most beautiful and dynamic settings in the world. Students will study the relationship between political oppression and rebellion (on one hand) and literature and art (on the other). You will get to know the old and the new city, the country’s colorful history, majestic surroundings, and cultural vibrancy in the heart of Mitteleuropa. The main excursion will be a weekend-long trip to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial located outside of Krakow, Poland. In addition, we also have an afternoon trip to the Theresienstadt concentration camp memorial outside of Prague, and we are likely to organize a short excursion into the Czech country-side.

Course Offerings

Students enroll in both courses for a total of 6 credits.

PSC 4875 Communism and Post-communism

The history and politics of east-central Europe have been profoundly influenced by years of totalitarian domination by fascist Germany, then decades of communist rule under the Soviet Union. How have these historic legacies influenced the politics of Eastern Europe even today? This course explores the divergence between communism in theory and in practice throughout twentieth-century Eastern Europe and Eurasia, as well as communism's enduring legacies in the arduous transition to markets and democracy. Students will have the opportunity to explore the recent politics of each country of eastern and east-central Europe in greater depth while immersed in  region. Our central location in Prague allows us many opportunities to explore these historical firsthand, including trips to the Museum of Communism in Prague, the communist Memento Park in Budapest during our weekend trip to the capital of Hungary, as well as many sites of national resistance and anti-communist liberation in both countries.

This course will be taught by Dr. Mark Schrad (3 credits).

PSC 6150 - or - ENG2790 Politics and Literature  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.

This course will be taught by Prof. Mary Beth Simmons (3 credits).
This course may taken as ENG 2790 or PSC 6150. Please distinguish this on your program application.

These are Villanova courses, taught by Villanova faculty, taken for a letter grade (not a ‘T’ transfer grade), and are directly applicable to the PSC major (or English major for Politics and Literature) as an Area 1 distribution requirement (pending approval), or as an elective.

Additional Academic Requirements

No language proficiency required. The cosmopolitan environment of Prague makes it possible to get by in English. Our Prague program is a wonderful opportunity to study, travel and learn in a foreign environment.


Housing is provided in the central part of Prague, in the midst of the city’s cultural hub. Central Prague is a pedestrian-friendly environment with excellent local transitand is very easy to get around.  Students will be responsible for their meals. Program participants share apartments in the center of Prague, with full kitchen facilities to prepare meals, as well as an extensive range of local cafes and restaurants.


From Prague, the great cities of Mitteleuropa are within striking distance. This year, there will be two scheduled field trips including to Auschwitz, Poland. We also have a couple of excursions planned throughout the verdant Czech Republic. Students in past years have gone on their own during open weekends to Krakow, Warsaw, Linz, Dresden, Budapest and Munich.

Faculty Coordinator

image of Prague scenery

Prof. Mary Beth Simmons
Director, Writing Center
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
St. Augustine Center (SAC) 257
(610) 519-5358

Dr. Mark Schrad
Department of Political Science
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
St. Augustine Center (SAC) 256
(610) 519-4717

Payment Information

Applications are due no later than April 1, 2014; the non-refundable commitment fee of $450 is due upon receipt of acceptance letter. Final payment due prior to the departure of program.

Total: $5,500

Includes tuition, housing, excursions, and orientation and farewell meals and reception. 
Through the generosity of Villanova alum and PSC major, Michael C. Linn, full and partial scholarships will be available on the basis of financial need (as determined by the Office of Financial Assistance). Please contact one of the Faculty Program Coordinators for more information.

2014 Itinerary

June 30 - Arrival in Prague (Departure from US will likely be on June 28)

August 8 - Return to USA