Berlin, Germany Summer 2015

Reenacting German and American Identities

Berlin 2015 poster thumbnail

Sponsoring Units: Honors Program, Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Program Dates: June 17 - July 18 (Summer A Term)

15 credits (13 onsite in Berlin during Summer; 2 in Spring)

This program will satisfy the following 15 credits of Honors core requirements:

Course Credits Credit Type
Honors 213 / EDC&I 496
Honors 213 / EDC&I TBD
(5) Honors Humanities (taken in spring)
Honors Humanities (taken in summer)
Spring/summer seminars will join for a total of 5 credits of humanities
Honors 384 / EDC&I 496 5 Honors Interdisciplinary (taken in summer while abroad)
Honors 384 / EDC&I 496 5 Honors Interdisciplinary (taken in summer while abroad)
Applications due: January 23, 2015

Information Sessions

  • 12/3/14 at 12:00 PM in the Honors Seminar Room (MGH 211B)
  • 1/14/15 at 12:00 PM in the Honors Seminar Room (MGH 211B)

About the Program

Myth making can create surprising communities and stretch dialogue across the borders. This program, deeply grounded in the interdisciplinary liberal arts, a hallmark of the UW Honors Program, Education, and American Studies at Humboldt and Jena Universities, provides students with an in-depth comparative look at cultural tokenism and investigates the narratives of identity and its dynamic reformulation. Identity construction as related to identity politics of nation-states and cultural and social groups is a central theme specifically looking at American and German territories.

This course will be located at University of Washington, Humboldt University, and Jena University (ten weeks at UW, spring quarter, 3 weeks in Berlin and approximately 1 week at Jena University)

Students will engage in foundational research during spring quarter’s preparatory seminar, learning about the history of U.S. border relations and the migration patterns of these countries compared with the migration patterns of Germany. Students will also be introduced to social science, humanities and arts research as well as educational methods as related to the program themes. Students will make connections with faculty from Humboldt and Jena during spring quarter and will continue these connections once in Germany.

Starting off in Seattle during the require two-credit Honors seminar, students will utilize technology and learning portfolios to investigate the topics of:

  • Literature of Migration (literature of identity) Asylum policies (Dublin 2 and 3 laws)
  • Urban Identity and Border Identity
  • Identity and natural world (distance of the natural world to urban world and reconsidering what makes us human)
  • Migration and Education

During the seminar, students will decide on research questions and develop proposals that will focus their time in Germany. Similar to the summer component, the spring seminar will be comprised of classroom instruction and discussion, reading and writing assignments, and guest speakers who will provide both cultural and language instruction as preparation for in-country learning.  In addition, students will receive basic travel orientation prior to departure and make connections with faculty from Humboldt and Jena prior to departure.  

Teaching will be a collaborative effort between UW faculty and staff, Jena University faculty, and Humboldt faculty and staff. The agenda in both Berlin and Jena include field trips and on-site explorations as well as a workshop series with German students.

Berlin & Jena, Germany

The Honors Program has a unique collaboration with Humboldt University’s American Studies department and students are able to take advantage of this relationship between the programs to deepen their networks and research. Humboldt is located on the famous boulevard Unter den Linden “under the linden trees” in the district of Mitte.  Jena is a university town dating back to 1182. The town is in the former east and is situated among hills and near the river Saale.  Jena is approximately 2.5 hours by train from Berlin.

Program Credit

Students will receive 15 credits of Honors core credits - 13 summer credits and 2 spring credits.  

Participating graduate students will coordinate the allocation of credits with their advisers.

Alternative credit may be available to students not currently enrolled in the Honors Program.  Alternative credit options must be arranged in advance with your departmental adviser.

Re-enacting Identities

Honors 384 (VLPA/I&S) and EDC&I 496 - 5 credits

This course investigates individual, cultural, and national identity formation, what determines identity labels and who defines social capital. We will use a comparative interdisciplinary model to learn about topics including:

  • Identity and Environment;
  • Identity Migration and Education;
  • Borders and Frontiers (Canada/Mexico/US border; German east and west border; Arctic border and territory issues and its global ramifications related to national and individual identity formation; border patrol policy at the US/Mexico cross-roads, for example);
  • Refugee/migration movements in US and Germany related to identity politics and the view of the “refugee and “immigrant” as cultural tokens and foils (individual, family, and nation-state);
  • Investigation of identity reformulation/myth making of refugees and migrants (including a parallel study of east German, and U.S./Mexican identities).

We will also address art and performance as forms of resistance serving to deflect identity tropes.

Western cultures in East Germany

Honors 213 - 3 credits (will join with 2-credit spring seminar to become a single 5-credit Honors Humanities)

The study course at Jena university brings together German history with the study of cultural myths of the Western: the focus of study will be the proliferation of North American Western culture in the two Germanys, from its adaptation by 19th century Dresden writer Karl May to the Powwow vogue and Indian camps in the former GDR as an expression of freedom and individualism in a socialist regime.  Jena as a place for studying this topic offers a plethora of opportunities for expert interviews, visits to museums and expertise by the staff of the American Studies department, who have been researching about representations of the Canadian and the American West as a symbolic space since 2011.  The Jena part therefore groups topics from Canadian and American studies in a curriculum that fosters meetings with German academics and students.

Independent Study/Research

Honors 384 (VLPA/I&S)/EDC&I 496 - 5 credits

The 3-4 student research groups will divide into topics under the larger theme of the program. Through collaboration within research groups and instructors, specific individual project focus will emerge. Each group member will have an opportunity to focus within the group topic with individual research questions emerging over the course of the quarter.

Student groups will regularly report on preliminary research and will work together, collaboratively, both in Seattle, Berlin and Jena. Students will use their Honors Portfolios for reflection and posting of research in progress and final research presentations.

Preparatory Seminar

Honors 213 (VLPA/I&S)/EDC&I 496 - 2 credits (will join with 3-credit summer course to become a single 5-credit Honors Humanities)

This seminar will be comprised of classroom instruction and discussion, reading and writing assignments, and guest speakers who will provide both cultural and language instruction as preparation for in-country learning. In addition, students will receive basic travel orientation prior to departure. During spring quarter, students will choose research groups (approximately 3-4 students per group), decide on the focus of their projects, and create a proposal, which they will then use as a guide during their time in Germany.

Program Staff


Julie Villegas, Associate Director and Affiliate Assistant Professor, Honors Program

Manka Varghese, Associate Professor, Education

Faculty and Site Coordinator at Jena

Caroline Rosenthal, Jena University, Professor, American Studies

Site Coordinator at Humboldt

Manuela Mangold, Humboldt University, American Studies

Program Cost

Program cost is approximately $4,400 per student (this amount includes tuition, lodging, classroom, some group meals, admission to museums and exhibits, excursions, and partial ground transportation). Course fee does not include the Study Abroad fee ($300), airfare ($1,000-$1,600 round trip, depending on when and where you buy your ticket), food (about $30-50 per day), and personal spending money.

Financial Aid

Students may use their regular financial aid and scholarship funds for study abroad. The exception is any scholarship in the form of a tuition waiver. Tuition waivers cannot be used to pay study abroad program fees. Check with the Office of Student Financial Aid in Schmitz Hall for more information.

Funding opportunities are available through the Global Opportunities Program (Go! and Fritz Scholarships).  The Office of International Programs and Exchanges maintains a funding opportunities list.

For information on the Guaranteed Education Tuition Program visit:

GET Program Information

and for Financial Aid Questions:

Financial Aid Information

The Study Abroad Refund Policy details out the program withdrawal process.

Housing in Berlin

Students will be housed in a youth hostel which has been used in previous trips.  At Jena University, students will be housed in dormitories or a youth hostel in Jena.


To Berlin

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from Berlin. Act quickly to reserve the lowest fares; you may wish to explore budget fares offered on discount search websites as well as Council Travel and STA Offices in Seattle.

Within Germany

Students and instructors will travel to several locations within Germany via train, metro, bus and foot. The program fee covers these group travel expenses.

All participants must have a passport that is valid for not only for the duration of the program, but for 6 months after the program ends. It may take as long as six weeks to obtain or renew a passport.

Application Process

Selection to the program is competitive and acceptance into the program will be decided based on application materials, interviews, and student's demonstrated motivation to challenge themselves intellectually across academic disciplines and cultures and to work both individually and in groups. The program directors are seeking students who are interested in engaging fully in the local communities and meeting and dialoging with a wide variety of people on site (e.g. cross generational, community activists, artists, politicians, and educators).

All students are welcome to apply. Priority to Honors Program and Education students.  We are seeking students from various backgrounds.

*Program directors recommend spring quarter’s Education 453 “Teaching the Bilingual Bicultural Student” (5 credits, Varghese) for those interested in deepening their knowledge of program theme. Ad hoc Honors credit may be available.   

Applications due: January 23, 2015

For More Information

For more information about the program components, please contact:

For questions regarding credits, contact: