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European Identities

Berlin at night

The interdisciplinary European Identities course combines classroom studies with a 17-day trip to Berlin and Instanbul over winter break.


Students will focus on the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of the two cities while exploring neighborhoods, visiting museums, and meeting locals. There are no language requirements, making it a perfect fit if you're interested in history, international politics, or European culture. Sophomore standing or permission from one of the instructors is required.

To prepare for the trip, you'll take a half-credit course in the fall covering common readings and travel, as well as choosing two of three department-approved courses -- European Governments, World War I, or Contemporary German Culture -- in your area of study.

Sample Itinerary
The following is a sample itinerary for the European Identities trip. A full itinerary is provided to program participants.

Expand European Identities tripDay 1: Depart USA and Arrive in Berlin
  • Students and professors will travel from Chicago O'Hare to Berlin Tegel, then take public transportation to a hostel in Charlottenburg. Once there, we'll attend an orientation meeting and a walking tour of Charlottenburg.
Expand Day 2: Berlin's Imperial Core (Part 1)
  • Professor Todd Heidt will lead a tour of Berlin's central government district while discussing historical forms of diversity in Berlin. Our group will visit Brandenburg Gate, Hugenottenkirche, Operplatz, the City Palace Site, and the Berlin Historical Museum.
Expand Day 3: Berlin's Imperial Core (Part 2)
  • Professors Emre Sencer and Daniel Beers will lead a tour of Berlin's central government district, with a focus on the country's political history and present-day representations of political power. Destinations include the German Reichstag, Soldier's Gatehouse (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), Alexanderplatz, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and Pergamon Museum. Afterward, there will be a discussion at the hostel.
Expand Day 4: Jewish Berlin
  • Our group will take a walking tour of Mitte, including the "Stolpersteine" or "Stumbling Stones," with discussion on re-emergent Jewish culture in Germany. The day includes visits to the Jewish cemetery, the New Synagogue, and a possible guest presentation from a Rabbi.
Expand Day 5: East and West Germany
  • Visits include the Museum at Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall Memorial, and the Stasi Headquarters. You'll have the opportunity to break into smaller groups according to interest -- political science with Daniel Beers, humanities and German studies with Todd Heidt, and history with Emre Sencer. There will be a group discussion in the evening.
Expand Day 6: Humboldt University
  • Cooperating faculty from Humboldt University and the University of Flensburg will provide lectures. You'll also have the chance to interact with Humboldt University students over coffee to discuss issues relating to the program.
Expand Day 7: Travel from Berlin to Instanbul
  • Our group will fly from Berlin to Istanbul, then take a minibus from the Istanbul airport to the hotel in Sultanahmet. There will then be an orientation meeting and evening discussion at the hotel.
Expand Day 8: Sultanahmet (Part 1)
  • We'll tour Sultanahmet, see Byzantine era cisterns and the Hagia Sophia, as well as visit a Mosque. Emre Sencer will lead the tour with a lecture on Turkish and Ottoman history.
Expand Day 9: Sultanahmet (Part 2)
  • Led by Emre Sencer, we'll tour the Ottoman palace and then have free time to explore the neighborhood independently.
Expand Day 10: Beyoğlu
  • The day includes a walking tour of Beyoğlu, a historic neighborhood with a rich political history, and visits to the Galata Tower, German and Austrian schools, and the Goethe Institut Istanbul.
Expand Day 11: Sehir University
  • The group, led by Daniel Beers, will visit one of Istanbul's premier universities. We'll meet with the international club and listen to a lecture from one of the university's political science, history, or cultural studies professors -- then take the ferry across the Bosphorus.
Expand Day 12: Contemporary Turkish Development
  • The day includes a tour of one of Turkey's fastest-growing metropolitan areas, and Daniel Beers will give a talk on economic development, inequality, and public policy.
Expand Day 13: Travel from Instanbul to Berlin
  • We'll take public transportation to a hostel in Charlottenburg.
Expand Day 14: Turkish Berlin (Part 1)
  • Our group will visit a Mosque and attend a presentation by an Imam or other community leader on the topic of Muslim culture in Berlin. After that, we'll eat lunch on our own in the neighborhood and visit a Turkish language school.
Expand Day 15: Turkish Berlin (Part 2)
  • We'll travel to Wedding, a less gentrified, working-class Turkish neighborhood, where you'll have free time for exploration and a traditional Turkish meal with students in the neighborhood.
Expand Day 16: Free Day
  • Explore Berlin on your own!
Expand Day 17: Depart Germany
  • We'll depart Berlin for Chicago.


Final Project and Symposium
After the trip, during winter term, the European Identities course allows you to work on a research or creative project inspired by your travels and coursework. Here are a few of the final projects presented at the winter term symposium.

European Identities Symposium European Identities symposium
Adrian Hernandez Secter '15
"Berlin & Istanbul. Urban Politics and Public Transportation Networks"
Haley Schutt '14
"Graffiti and History in Berlin"
European Identities symposium European Identities symposium
James Sheppard '14
"Occupying Space in Istanbul: Contemplating the Past, Present, and Future"
Mackenzie Anderson '15
"Religious Expression in Berlin vs. Istanbul"
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