Over the course of the Cold War, the city of Berlin was frequently at the centre of global tensions and a potential front line should the superpower rivalry descend into actual war. This course utilizes the city of Berlin as a laboratory in which to examine the origins, nature, and conclusion of the Cold War that defined international relations between 1945 and 1991. We analyze the Allied occupation of the city following the Nazi defeat, the Berlin blockade and airlift that helped solidify the divisions between East and West. Next, we will examine the workers’ uprising of 1953 that provoked a Soviet military response. The following sessions will deal with the emigration crisis of the late 1950s that led the Soviets to first threaten a military takeover of the city and eventually to construct the Berlin Wall. Finally, we will look at the fall of the wall and the subsequent reunification of Berlin and Germany.
Field trips to important Cold War sites will permit students to gain a deeper appreciation of how the Cold War changed Berlin, and how events in Berlin influenced the wider international struggle. In order to place the interests and goals of the superpowers in context, we will also discuss the ways in which the Cold War rivalry affected Europe as a whole, as well as Asia and Latin America. Attention will be given to the role of international organizations such as the United Nations in world affairs, and the changes brought about by the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In this way, we will examine the roots of contemporary crises. Students will gain an understanding of the recent past, which will help equip them to evaluate the current and emerging international order.
Everyone is welcome to this course. It is ideal for students who have background in modern international relations history and supplements courses on the world wars or global politics/history. However, the course is designed for those without such training who have an interest in international relations. Students planning careers in diplomacy, journalism, or academia will find this course especially beneficial.
This course uses a lecture format with seminars, as well as field trips around Berlin. There is much to cover in a short period of time. Regular attendance will be essential to keep up with the volume of material and pace of the course. As participatory seminars make up a sizeable portion of the overall grade you will be expected to have completed all the readings, integrate them with lectures, and come ready to discuss the topics.
30% Active participation
20% One short essay
50% Final exam
Scholarly readings are an essential component of any course and this will be no different. A course reader will be made available. All the seminars will involve chapters from a book by a renowned academic in the field. They will also entail the reading of primary documents on various events in the Cold War put together in an edited text. This will provide students an opportunity to be “closer” to some of the dramatic events covered in the course and be exposed to the true craft of historians.
Europe encompasses the world’s largest and most complicated market. Recent events, particularly those following the ongoing economic crisis on the continent, raise profound questions about the future of Europe. This course will focus on present and future business issues facing the entire continent. Under this focus, we will examine the following questions: Should a “European” management style be developed instead of the national practices that frequently characterize companies originating in different European nations? How and under what circumstances should the European Union expand to Turkey, Ukraine and other countries in the East? What has been the impact of the Treaty of Lisbon, in effect since 2009, on European economic, political and social issues? In order to provide essential background and context for these issues, we will also review key events in modern European History.
In class, we will utilize a variety of approaches, including small-group study, lectures, and case-study analysis, to develop a comprehensive understanding of European business.On excursions to different districts of Berlin, we will study how European and German history have influenced the economic development of this magnificent international capital and we will investigate the impact Berlin has in turn had on European business management. Our visit to the DDR Museum will allow us to examine life in the former East Germany. At the Museum of Communication, we will analyse how European technology has affected the international telecommunications industry. Our trip to the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) will put us at the heart of European business as it has evolved in the post-German-unification period. Finally, a field trip to visit a local entrepreneur in the heart of the city will allow us to see the emerging role of entrepreneurship in shaping the business landscape of the continent.
Students interested in how companies manage their businesses as the dynamic European economy continues its transformation from national- to European-level markets and spheres of interaction. The course also examines macro-level social, historical, and economic factors and their contribution to the contemporary European business environment.
Complete reading assignments and discuss in class. Prepare a group presentation, and take two exams.
A course reader will be provided.
The course will introduce the basics of the European Union and describe and explain the processes of widening and deepening of this unique political entity. This will cover an overview of European Union history, its evolution in economic and political terms as well as of its institutional structure up to today.
Internal politics and policies, for example the decision-making process, the balance of power, identity and democratic questions in this new system of governance will be discussed. Likewise in the realm of external affairs, the Common Foreign and Security Policy, relations with neighbors and with developing countries will be our concern. Particularly important aspects include the discussion on future expansion as well as the consequences of the financial crisis and the Lisbon Treaty. If students express specific interests in other topics or case studies sessions can be adjusted.
The morning sessions consist of lectures, literature based discussions and oral presentations from working groups. After lunch the course will visit various institutions in Germany`s political center. Students will have the chance to discuss the topics from the morning sessions with international experts from political institutions, embassies and think tanks.
Students from different countries, academic levels and backgrounds, who are generally interested in European integration will benefit from each other in an intercultural and interdisciplinary learning process.
Former classes consisted of regular students and practitioners such as civil servants, communication experts, young politicians and even members of parliaments.
The course does not require special knowledge about European politics, law, history or culture, but participants should be interested in more than just their field of specialization.
In class participation, especially in the discussions with experts, is essential for the course success and plays an important role in grading.
The course is designed for students with different academic backgrounds and a general interest in Europe. There are no specific prerequisites for this course.
Attendance; Active participation in the seminar's discussions and discussions with experts; Oral and written presentation of a certain subject.
A course reader will be provided.
Regarding transnational migration, the EU promotes a political reasoning between processes of consolidation and necessary conflict, between sovereignty and shared responsibility, between the right to define and delimit and the duty to negotiate. In ongoing economic crisis and facing unprecedented movements of people, the timeless normalcy of migration is often framed as crisis per se. Populist claims for cultural homogeneity and for closed borders undercut efforts for a common migration policy.
As the visibility of migration increases in various ways, migrants are often represented and imagined as a homogenous mass of ‘the other’. This leads to a problematic understanding of migration as something to be controlled and governed from a top-down perspective alone. But the respective processes of negotiation on migration policy, within and across the outer borders of the Union, take place not only between the official institutions of nation-states, but on all scales of European populations. They also take place from a bottom-up perspective in the centres and at the margins of societies alike.
Departing from diverse theories of migration, we will gain an overview of EU-level migration polity and recent migration- and border-management policies. We will analyse the conflicts, debates and discourses around the last years of increased immigration.
Scaling down, we will engage with the local authorities’ perspective in Berlin. Diving deeper down we will start to change perspective: How do local activists develop and implement their own policies of welcoming migrants? What are the aims of and how do legal assessment organizations for migrants work? In an encounter with refugees in Berlin, we will see how refugees themselves perceive EU-migration policies and what they make themselves of their public positioning as a ‘problem’ or as a ‘burden’ to European societies. Finally, focusing on the legalization-market of Almería/Spain, we will encounter migrants’ viewpoints, which reach beyond the usual framings of ‘the poor migrant’ as ‘passive victim’, as a threat or as the ‘(anti-)hero’ of globalization. We will encounter viewpoints on the EU, which will constructively criticize as well as graciously affirm the spirit of the Union. We will encounter viewpoints of hope.
This course is designed for all students having a professional, political or personal interest in a deeper and thus more differentiated understanding of transnational migration.
No prior knowledge is required – but the willingness to think beyond the usual framings on migration.
A course reader will be provided at the first course meeting
This course introduces the field of International Relations (IR). It is designed for students interested in understanding global issues and actors in a time of fast-moving political and social change. The focus will be on theories of IR and their application in international politics.
The field of IR studies the functioning of the international system and deals with the nature of the changing relations between states and with non-state actors. This course starts with discussing the classical theories of IR from Realism to contemporary attempts of theoretical bridge-building. Next, the course will deal with contemporary debates in IR against the backdrop of the changing international system. Among others, topics to discuss include multilateralism, globalization, and power transitions. The course continues with examining the role of non-state actors and key issues in contemporary IR such as terrorism or the environment; the goal is to discuss IR theories in the current political context. Finally, the course concludes with a round table discussion on the prospects for politics and IR.
In this course, students will learn political concepts and theories through lectures. To compare international political phenomena, each student has to introduce a current issue or actor in a short oral presentation. The students are expected to discuss theoretical questions about the political world in working groups making use of the current news on international politics. In addition, students will learn and practice how to voice their opinion and persuade their audience in an academic essay. Finally, the students will gain insight into daily international politics and IR research through field trips and meetings with IR scholars and international policy experts.
The course is designed for students with different academic backgrounds and a general interest in international politics.
There are no specific prerequisites for this course.
All students are expected to attend and participate actively in class discussions of all readings and daily news. This means students should be prepared to a) summarize, evaluate and assess critically the significance of the readings, and b) provide information and discuss current topics of international politics.
Each student has to sign up for a short oral presentation. Presentation topics will be distributed at the first day of class.
In a final exam, students have to write a short essay in which they discuss a current issue of international politics applying a theory of IR. We will practice how to write an essay in class.
A course reader will be provided.
This seminar will examine the changes Germany has undergone from the foundation of the German Empire in 1871 up to the present day: Empire, World War I, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, the division of Germany after World War II, reunification in 1989. The course will focus primarily on the perceptions of political, cultural, and social processes, as formulated by the writers, filmmakers, and artists of the respective periods. This will be illustrated using, among others, the example of Berlin, which is without a doubt the focal point of historical events in Germany.
Through selected texts, films, and works of art, we will examine, for example, the following questions: what possibilities of self-assertion did the individual have in a world characterized by the patriotic frenzy of empire? How did technological progress and urbanization influence culture in the 1920s? How did literature and film react to the Nazi’s rise to power and subsequent dictatorship? How did Germany’s situation in the Cold War impact its artistic production? How was literature and art affected by the reunification?
In addition, excursions to museums and historical locations will give students the opportunity to discover the current and historical development of the country firsthand, in order to strengthen and deepen their understanding and knowledge thereof.
The seminar is aimed at students from different disciplines who are interested in literature, film, art, and the history of Germany. Apart from the language requirements below, participants are not required to have any special knowledge.
Language ability: at least intermediate German (level B2); Short description of B2-level language ability: Can understand the main ideas of complex texts on both concrete and abstract topics; in your own field also including more technical topics; should be able to spontaneously interact with native speakers fluently and without stress; can produce a clear, detailed text on a wide range of topics, and explain a position in a topical discussion, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
A course reader will be provided at the orientation meeting.
Urban studies and its discourse on the city combine scholarship in fields as diverse as human geography, history, and the arts. Berlin, with its seemingly infinite possibilities for creative societal- and self-fashioning, provides an excellent socio-cultural analytical model. It is at once a fixed “place” with a distinct topography and an interactive “space” comprised of residents and visitors of multifarious social groups.
A balanced appreciation of the interplay of place and space in Berlin’s cityscape is key for students eager to learn about the city’s past and present. In turn, one requires a sound historical overview of Berlin’s spatial and social makeup in order to comprehend contemporary Berlin fully.
FUBiS invites you to join us as we analyze and explore places/spaces in Germany’s ultimate “urban text”, Berlin. In-class analysis and discussion of academic and literary texts about Berlin will prepare you for our course excursions. We begin at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s most important site that functions as place and space. Here you will learn more about this landmark and its meaning in Berlin’s social imaginary, linking temporal layers of past and present in Berlin.
In the seven sessions that follow, we continue our temporal-topographical inquiry, meeting with experts at other places/spaces in Berlin (including the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Jewish Museum, and the Berlin Wall Memorial). We will conduct on-site discussions of these unique places/spaces in historical, spatial, social, and even literary terms. Upon completing the course, students will have compiled a portfolio of short essays reflecting their critical reception of Berlin’s place/spaces.
In this manner, our course not only teaches you how places/spaces fuse Berlin’s past and present and shape contemporary Berlin: it also enables you to create a uniquely personal connection to Berlin.
After attending this seminar, students will
Ideal for students of cultural, political, and social sciences, this seminar seeks to bring to the foreground connections between Berlin's topography, its history, and its current functions as a political and cultural space.
There are no prerequisites for this course.
I. Active Participation
What is active participation?
II. Seminar Times and Fieldwork
The seminar takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays and includes fieldwork with the instructor in Berlin.
You will prepare a 20-minute presentation (including discussion), in which you will present and explain a seminar topic. It is important that you prepare a handout with theses to debate with the other seminar participants.
IV. Course Blog
You will contribute 4 (four) 500-word posts to the class blog. Analyzing a specific aspect of a seminar topic or reading, your blog post will adhere to academic style.
A reader will be provided at the orientation meeting.
Over the past twenty years Berlin has become a thriving crossroads at the intersection of music and technology. Attracting artists, creatives, and musicians from all over the world, it serves as a hub especially of techno and electronic music, as well as the home of leading music software developers such as Ableton or Native Instruments.
This course will examine significant developments in the production, performance, dissemination, and reception of music which have been significantly affected by the pervasive digitalization of recent decades. Thereby, we will in particular focus on the specific role Berlin has in this process.
Our first goal will be to understand how technology influences the production and performance of new music. Through specific case studies, we will tackle questions such as: How have digital technologies enabled unprecedented modes of making, using and perceiving music? In what ways has digital mediatization shaped our experiences with musical content and style? In particular, we will discuss developments in the production and reception of electronic dance music as well as explore Berlin’s role in the contemporary music and audio technology industry.
Our second goal will be to explore how technology facilitates new modes of experiencing and acquiring music. For this portion of the course, we will discuss how technology is being used trying to reinvigorate an interest in classical music, by institutions such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. We will also look at the issue of digital music distribution, and how Berlin-based companies such as SoundCloud are trying to find new ways of digitally distributing music.
Finally, our third goal will be to explore how developments in music technology interact with other artistic media, by examining the relation between technology and music in film, video games as well as in contemporary sound art.
This course is open to all students. No previous experience studying music or technology is necessary. Please note that while the topics of technology and music are integral to the course, we will examine it through the lens of media theory and cultural history, rather than learning how to engineer music technology or actually create music.
There are no prerequisites for this course.
Participation in class discussion and group work is a vital component of this course. Every session will feature collaborative exercises to foster active engagement with the materials.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Fridays, and will include local excursions off campus.
In response to our discussions, excursions, and readings, students will craft short written answers to specific questions. These responses will be our way to thoughtfully reflect on the course materials.
During the last week of the course students will collaborate in pairs and present on a topic of their own choice related to the topic of the course. In addition to an in-class presentation, students will submit a written summary and response to this project.
Readings will be drawn from scholarly and journalistic sources. A reader containing these excerpts will be provided at orientation.
Philosophy has constituted a central element in the emergence of modern German culture. In the late 18th century, German philosophy participated in the broader European Enlightenment culture, which was in turn connected to the development of modern empirical science. Under the impression of the historical changes brought about by the French Revolution and by the ‘Industrial Revolution’ in Great Britain, a special constellation of German philosophy emerged at the end of the 18th century, which has deeply left its mark on subsequent philosophical thinking far beyond Germany.
This philosophy course addresses the historical reality of this ‘German moment of philosophy’ in two subsequent phases: In the first part, we follow the emergence and full deployment of German philosophy from its Kantian beginnings to Hegel’s grand but fragile synthesis, trying to understand its richness as well as its fragility. In a second part, we discuss the later renewal of German philosophy in the late 19th century and its historical tragedy in the 20th century. This will include a discussion of the new beginnings of philosophy since the mid-19th century, from Marx, and Nietzsche, via Frege and Mach, to Husserl and Wittgenstein, who have been reacting to the scientific and political revolutions of the late 19th and early 20th century. Martin Heidegger as an established pro-Nazi philosopher and Max Horkheimer as the leading philosopher of the “Frankfurt School” driven into exile are studied as philosophers immersed into the Night of the 20th century.
Finally, post-World War II developments in philosophy (as exemplified by Jürgen Habermas and Ernst Tugendhat) will be looked at as pathways out of the self-destructive turn the ‘German moment of philosophy’ in Germany had taken in the first decades of the 20th century, and as passages into an emerging world philosophy.
The course will be based upon contemporary attempts at rethinking a global philosophical perspective. The focus is on the tension between the Enlightenment heritage of a universalizing human philosophy and a national culture project, as well as on the tension between classicist rationalism and romantic emotionalism in its construction as a series of philosophical projects. From the perspective of a German version of the dialectics of the Enlightenment, the German philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries will be studied in context - combining the reading of key texts with a reconstruction of their historical contexts and their interaction.
This course is open for students from all disciplines having a deep interest in Philosophy. Prior exposure to the field of philosophy will be helpful.
Students should be able to speak and read English at the upper intermediate level (B2), preferably even higher. Prior experience with reading philosophical texts will be helpful.
Active Participation, Course Presentation, Midterm exam, Essay Paper
A course reader will be provided at the orientation meeting.
How do we understand the great capital cities of the world if we have never seen them? How does this change once we have visited a place? To what extent is our contemporary imagination of national space and power constructed by images? This course offers students an introduction to the cultural politics of cinematic imaginings of Berlin, a dynamic European capital that has become a laboratory for creative urban studies. Students will examine Berlin’s unique 20th and 21st-century history of expansion, destruction, division, unification, and urban marketing in relation to films that pictured the city for various political regimes and cultural objectives. The course will question this film legacy through the lens of political events, urban change, virtual technologies, spatial memory, geographical orientation, and location politics in the Berlin-Brandenburg region.
Inviting students to critically reexamine filmic representations of Berlin, the course will focus on several key time periods in German film production: 1) the Weimar Republic; 2) the Nazi Era and the immediate postwar years; 3) the Cold War; and 4) the postwall era. Not only are these time periods important to German cinema and its representations of Berlin; they also fostered competing cultural political versions of the city that would continue to circulate in the digital age.
One goal of the course is to introduce students to audiovisual analysis through a number of Berlin films spanning German film history. A second goal is for students to acquire knowledge of the sociocultural discourses that inform the production and reception of these films. Students will work on a number of questions in small groups and will then be asked to share their analyses and thoughts with the rest of the class. A third goal of the course is to introduce students to relevant cultural and geographical resources in Berlin through field trips to, for example, the Museum of Film and Television and Studio Babelsberg.
By the end of the course, the students will have gained a better understanding of Berlin’s history, its cinema, and its current film production and urban marketing discourses. They will be able to analyse the ways in which film form, content, geographical orientation, and historical context create meaning. Not only will the students enhance their skills in audiovisual analysis; they will also acquire the ability to interrogate the political circumstances that led to these films’ creation and reception.
This course is open to anyone with an interest in cinema in general and German cinema in particular.
No prior knowledge of German, German films, or film and media studies is required. Students must be able to speak and read English at the advanced intermediate level.
Attendance and participation in class, leading one class discussion, one field trip report, and one term paper.
A course reader will be provided on the first day of class.
John Story has pointed out, correctly, that ‘popular culture’ is essentially “an empty conceptual category.” That does not mean, however, that the many things and practices the term potentially signifies are not real or meaningful. Popular culture, as it is understood in cultural studies, surrounds us in our daily lives; it informs our values, our habits, and our desires—it provides us with ever-changing visions of the good life, it entertains us, and it moves us. Popular culture simultaneously mirrors and generates cultural imperatives and, in doing so, not only provides us with a variety of pleasures, but also holds decisive powers over the lives of people. From a cultural studies perspective, then, popular culture constitutes a rich and important field, one in which we can study and try to understand how societies create, negotiate, and strengthen or undermine values, identities, and behaviors. A city like Berlin moreover lends itself as the perfect context in which to experience the phenomena we talk about in class first hand.
When the eponymous heroine of the 1990s television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer attends her first college class, titled “Images of Pop Culture,” her professor points out that “[t]he point of this course is not to critique popular American culture. It is not to pick at it, or look down upon it. And it is not to watch videos for credit.” This same applies to this seminar. We will follow cultural critic Eva Illouz, who argues that the “point of cultural analysis is not to measure cultural practices against what they ought to be or ought to have been but rather to understand how they have come to be what they are and why, in being what they are, they ‘accomplish things’ for people.” This does not mean, however, that our approach will be un-critical; but we will concentrate on trying to understand what the various instances of popular culture mean, how they work, and why they “‘accomplish things’ for people,” as Illouz puts it.
We will approach the heterogeneous cultural landscape subsumed under the moniker ‘popular’ by focusing in each session on a specific form or mode of popular culture—art, for instance, or music, or food—and using examples from the contemporary (mostly) American context to discuss the manifold ways in which the things, practices, and discourses acquire meaning for the people engaging with them. We will address politics and economics as well as aesthetics and form; we will discuss the pleasures we derive from popular culture as well as the destructive potentials it may hold. And we will turn to the practical side of things by going on a number of field trips to explore the pop cultural landscape of Berlin.
This course is open to all students. No previous experience with (pop) cultural studies is necessary.
Students should be able to speak and read English at an upper intermediate level (B2/C1).
A course reader will be provided at the first course meeting.
This course explores European art and architecture from the 15th to the 20th century with a particular focus on urban centers like Florence, Rome, Venice, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Berlin. The aim is to analyze how the visual arts contributed through the centuries to shape local identities as well as European cultural traditions common to different countries.
The course will present iconic moments of the history of the arts in Europe by drawing a special attention to episodes of cultural exchanges and hybridization that arose from travelling artworks as well as from artists’ travels. From the role of artists like Raphael and Michelangelo in 16th-century papal Rome to the rise of genre painting in the Flanders and the Dutch Republic of the Golden Age, from the ‘painters of modern life’ in 19th-century Paris to the German Avant-garde of the 1920s, we will analyze the artworks and their authors in relation to the different historical contexts and the places of their creation. Recurrent will be the focus on the complex interplay between artists and patrons, between local traditions, individual creativity and the broader social, political and cultural contexts in which artworks and buildings were produced.
Students will gain understanding of the main art movements and relevant artists from the Renaissance to the postwar period as well as the basic concepts and terminology of art history. Visits to the outstanding collections of Berlin museums will allow the participants to study original artifacts and to learn how to look closely at works of art.
The course addresses students of any subject.
An elementary knowledge of European history is welcome but not necessary.
Regular attendance and active participation, mid-term oral presentation and final written exam.
30% Attendance & participation
30% Mid-term presentation (oral presentation of a work in Berlin museums)
40% Final Exam
A course reader will be provided at the orientation meeting.
This course will give an overview of the history of Christianity, which grew to be the world’s largest religion with currently more than 2.4 billion followers. In the first three sessions of the course we will investigate the foundations of Christianity, in the following two sessions we will discuss developments of Christianity in the Middle Ages and during the Reformation Era. The last three sessions of the course will focus on modern developments of Christianity - from Enlightenment until today.
We will start with the roots of Christianity in Judaism and, in this context, discover the person of Jesus Christ. The historical setting of an emerging Christian faith in the Roman Empire and in ancient culture will also lead us to the following central questions: What are/were Christian theology and doctrines about and to which degree can they be seen as something novel or new. The fall of the Roman Empire marks the beginning of a great transformation of Christianity concerning its geographical expansion but also its strong connection with political leaders, which characterized the Middle Ages. These developments form the historical setting for the era of Reformation, the critique and theses of the Reformators, and the formation of a new confession, namely Protestantism.
During the last three sessions, we will look at modernity: We will discuss the question of how the Christian churches reacted to the dictatorships of the 20th century and investigate the role of the church during the time of National Socialism and in socialist East Germany (GDR). Lastly, we will also look closely at Christianity today.
This course is open to students from all disciplines and levels of study.
All students will be expected to participate actively in class meetings and excursions, to have completed all the readings and to present two short reports on specific topics in the class sessions or excursions. In the last meeting students will hold a presentation on a topic of their own choice related to the course theme.
A course reader will be provided.