CityLAB: Berlin

Explore your passion for architecture, art, history, political science, studies in war and peace, computer science, and German in one of Europe's most dynamic cities.

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@ CityLAB

Experience history where it happened.


Explore the history, politics, and culture of Europe.

Students majoring in History, Political Science, or Studies in War and Peace can study significant political and world-historical conflicts through firsthand visits to key sites and institutions in the exciting, diverse, historically rich and politically active city of Berlin. The CityLAB:Berlin program grounds the study of social sciences in the physical structures and locations where events took place, and its interdisciplinary approach allows students the freedom to explore important concepts through art and architecture as well as traditional social science methodologies. Through a deep engagement with the city of Berlin as well as planned excursions to places like Venice, Paris, or Rome, urban spaces become a “lab” for new discoveries and insights into key problems affecting the human condition.

A student in this program will typically enroll in a mix of upper-level history and political science courses as well as beginning or intermediate German. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the expertise of local faculty by taking a fine arts, visual arts, or business course.

CURRICULUM (15 credits):

Berlin: Inventing the Modern City (HI 361 or PO 300: 3 credits)

Structures of Power: Germany 1500 – present (HI 361 or PO 300: 3 credits)

Nazi Germany and the Holocaust (HI 329: 3 credits)

German Language (GR 150 or GR 205 or GR 3XX: 3 credits)

One elective (3 credits)

See below for course descriptions.

  • Berlin: Inventing the Modern City

    This course provides a historical overview of events, politics, and visual culture that have shaped Berlin’s identity over the last two centuries. Classes are coordinated with site visits to locations selected for both their architectural significance and their reflection of the different periods of Berlin’s complex history, with special emphasis on the last 25 years, after the fall of the Wall. The course begins with the emergence of Berlin as a modern European city at the beginning of the 19th century and examines developments through the destruction brought about by the Second World War. Students then compare the efforts on both sides of the Wall to rebuild according to economic and ideological principles determined by the Cold War and explore how reunification offered Berlin a chance to reinvent itself as a contemporary capital and vibrant, cosmopolitan world city.

  • Structures of Power: Germany, 1500 – Present

    An interdisciplinary approach to the history of Germany, this course examines the political, economic, and architectural structures that influenced key individuals and events over the course of five centuries. Readings and discussions are supplemented by visits to sites that created systems of power or reflect the way certain rulers chose to memorialize or represent their authority. By taking a long view of history, students will see how elements of design, political philosophy, economic systems, and culture developed over time and shaped modern central Europe.


  • Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

    HI 329: 3 credits

    This course examines the political, military, cultural and social history of Germany during the Nazi rule, 1933-45. Topics include the rise and destruction of Hitler’s Third Reich from its origins, through the meteoric rise of the National Socialist Movement, to its demise. Special attention is given to the sources of support for Nazism among German voters, the structure of the National Socialist state, the role of Adolph Adolf Hitler, Germany’s role in the Second World War, and the Holocaust. The assignments are designed to benefit students by helping them develop intellectual and communication skills that apply not only to the study of history, but also to other academic disciplines and to a variety of professional pursuits.


  • German Language

    This introductory course will give students the practical knowledge of basic German that will enable them to engage directly with the city and its people. The course is comprehensive enough to allow for continued study of German upon return to the Northfield campus, if desired. Intermediate or advanced speakers of German will have an opportunity to take language courses suited to their level of knowledge.


  • Electives

  • 1

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