Summer Program in Politics, Culture and Literature in Prague

Program is Full for 2018

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

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 4375 Special Topics: Communism and Post-communism

"Communism" and "Marxism" have long been fighting words -- often cast as that which must be rejected, even though what these terms actually mean is less than clear. The history, politics, and culture of east-central Europe have been profoundly influenced by years of totalitarian domination by fascist Germany and then decades of communist rule under the Soviet Union. How have these historic legacies influenced the politics of Europe even today? What are these legacies in the first place? How can we put what we learn about the region and its political theoretical perspectives into relation to our own context? This course explores the divergence between communism in theory and in practice throughout twentieth-century Europe. We will also inquire into how these divergences can help articulate resources for thinking about political economy, labor struggles, and social and political change. Our central location in Prague allows us many opportunities to explore these historical conjunctures firsthand, including trips to the Museum of Communism in Prague, to Bratislava (now the capital of Slovakia), and the Austrian capital Vienna, just 50 miles west of Bratislava.

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

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).

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.


Trip Dates: June 23– August 4, 2018


June 23 - Arrival in Prague (Departure from US will likely be on June 22)

August 4 - Return to USA

*Please note that these dates are preliminary and are subject to change.


Program Fee: $6,000

For a detailed breakdown of the expenses, click here

Includes tuition, housing, excursions, and orientation and farewell meals and reception. 

Upon acceptance, student will have 2-weeks to submit a $450 non-refundable commitment fee. Program balance is invoiced directly to the VU student account during the first week of April, with final balance due May 1.

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.

Students interested in financing should first review the OEA Scholarship page. Should there be a need to secure additional funding through loans, Villanova University students should contact the Office of Financial Assistance.

Students with a Federal Pell grant should consider applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship!

Villanova University has the right to make cancellations, substitutions, or changes in case of emergency or changed conditions, or in the interest of the program.

Program Snapshot

Faculty Coordinator

image of Prague scenery

Prof. Mary Beth Simmons
Director, Writing Center
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Falvey Hall (Library) Room 210
(610) 519-5358

Dr. Yannik Thiem
Department of Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
St. Augustine Center (SAC) 168
(610) 519-5313