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Seminar in Russia in summer 2002
Seminar in Central Europe in summer 2001
Central Europe & Russia Task Force

Faculty Seminar: "The Human and Physical Environment of Central Europe"

June 15 - July 2, 2001


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Overview of the Seminar

In Olomouc, Czech RepublicThe Global Partners Central Europe/Russia Task Force offered an interdisciplinary seminar to 16 competitively selected faculty members representing 12 colleges from ACM, ACS and GLCA. Faculty from all disciplines and levels of experience were invited to apply. Each proposed an independent research or curricular project that participation in the seminar would support; there was limited time during the seminar to pursue these projects.

The two-week seminar was based at Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, with a pre-departure meeting in Chicago in May, an orientation upon arrival in Prague, and a mid-seminar trip to Krakow, Kazimierz and Auschwitz in Poland.

The seminar facilitator was Dr. Todd Armstrong, Associate Professor and chair of the Russian Department at Grinnell College. His research and teaching interests include Russian language and literature, the literature of Poland, and broader issues in modern Central and Eastern European literature and culture. He has been active in interdisciplinary approaches to international studies, and has extensive in-country experience in Central and Eastern Europe, including study in Russia, Poland and Bulgaria. He was also the Director of the ACM Central European Studies program in fall 1999.

See Dr. Armstrong's final report on the seminar.

Please see Dr. Armstrong's Web site for a summary of his report on the seminar, a list of participants, the seminar itinerary, the reading list and a set of resource links.

Photo: In Olomouc, on the way to seminar lectures at Palacký University. (Photo courtesy of Brenda Flanagan, Davidson University)

Comments from participants:

"One of the advantages of the lectures and discussions with lecturers was that I got a good sense of what is often left out of articles or historical accounts. Nuances are very important, and these can be best gleaned through face-to-face contact... Overall, this was an excellent opportunity to visit key areas of Central Europe, to see the landscape, observe the people, make initial contacts, and to begin a serious study of Czech female writers." -- Brenda Flanagan, Davidson College, ACS

"I came out of the seminar with a solid understanding of the weight of 'history' (and tradition) in the cultures of Central Europe....Being in the role of a 'student' for those weeks was a powerful reminder of the challenge students face when leaving home." -- Gilberto Gomez, Wabash College, GLCA

"I thought we had an excellent mix of seminar participants in terms of disciplines, interests and personalities. The interactions were very good. The seminar schedule was well-designed to provide opportunities for the seminar participants to discuss a wide variety of issues, some related to the seminar and some related to general concerns that we all share." -- Wayne Moyer, Grinnell College, ACM

"I came away with a lot of knowledge, many contacts and enough curricular ideas (many from my colleagues) to fill three or four courses." -- Bill New, Beloit College, ACM

"It was very humbling and very healthy, I think, to be outside of the language comfort zone for a while, and to realize that for all of my snobbery about language study preceding abroad experiences, it is possible to gain a lot from a trip without the language. If I can do it, the students likely can, too." -- Jennifer Marshall, Centre College, ACS

"My understanding of 'republican virtue' has been enhanced. While I desperately tried to ignore all the commercialism when returning home, I had a better appreciation for American freedoms (especially the press). Of course, our continual striving for private comfort at the expense of the public good still bothers me -- I am left wondering if the Czech will be fuming along in SUV's going to Hyperstores." -- Bruce Stephenson, Rollins College, ACS

"I have a better understanding of the culture shock that students are likely to experience and how not speaking the language can be an obstacle to interaction. On the other hand, I gained an even greater conviction that students can benefit from exposure to cross-cultural experiences" -- James R. Bruce, Hendrix College, ACS



updated 9/12/01

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