Study Abroad: USA in Eastern Europe: Winds of Change Summer 2020

Deadline: February 23, 2020

Program Dates:
Pre-abroad Component: May 11, 2020 – May 17, 2020
Abroad Component: May 18, 2020 – June 11, 2020
Post-abroad Component: June 12, 2020 – July 24, 2020

Program Overview:
In the year 1989, the world drastically began to change for millions of people in the communist nations within Central & Eastern Europe. This ‘wind of change’ blew east and  eventually lead to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Many of the people who brought about these changes were university students armed with only their voices, their minds, and their belief in democracy. For many of these nations, it was a peaceful process. For some, the euphoria was short lived and political and economic chaos ensued. This program will travel to five former communist nations (Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Georgia) to examine this time of change and its lasting legacy in the region. 

Our first stop will be Berlin (Germany) where we will visit the places where the ‘wind of change’ began to blow. The history of East Germany under communist rule will be discussed as well as the changes in society during the late 1980s that eventually helped lead to the end of the Cold War. We will visit former political prisons of the Stasi in East Berlin to better understand the brutality of communist rule in Germany. 

The next stop will be Warsaw (Poland) where we will meet with some of the leaders of the Solidarity movement and discuss the first democratic elections in Poland. While in a Poland, we will take a day trip to visit the shipyards in Gdansk where the Solidarity movement finds its roots. We will also spend time looking at modern Polish society as a young democratic nation and examine some of the challenges facing Poland today. 

After Poland, we will travel to Prague (Czech Republic) to focus on the Velvet Revolution and counterculture in Czechoslovakia that helped bring about social change in the late 1980s. Special attention will be paid to the music and art scene that helped give young Czechoslovakians a voice during a time of strong government censorship. 

Moving further east, the next stop will be Kyiv (Ukraine) where we will focus on the numerous revolutions that have taken place in Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Students will have the chance to meet with numerous people who fought on the front lines of these movements and examine social and political changes in Ukraine over the last three decades. A special day trip to the site of Chernobyl will provide an intimate look into the Soviet legacy in Ukraine. 

The final stop will be Tbilisi (Georgia) to examine how an ancient nation attempts to shake off the remnants of a long-ruling empire. We will focus on the role ethnicity played in the history of Georgia as part of a multi-ethnic empire. Students will take a day trip to the mountains in Georgia. The final few days will be spent in Batumi. Students will reflect and decompress in this resort town on the shores of the Black Sea. 

By the end of this multi-country journey students will have a greater understanding of the last few years of the Cold War. They will get first-hand accounts from the people who were there and helped bring about change. Students will begin to understand how lasting legacies can hold back a nation and slow its progress towards an independent and democratic nation. 

Course Information:
Students will take two of the following courses for a total of six credit hours:

  • IS 372 – Studies in E. Europe and Caucasus: Power of the Powerless – Movements of the People – 3 credit hours
  • IS 372 – Studies in E. Europe and Caucasus: The Long Hangover – The Post-Soviet Legacy – 3 credit hours
  • PSC 390 – Special Topics: Power of the Powerless – Movements of the People – 3 credit hours
  • PSC 390 – Special Topics: The Long Hangover – The Post-Soviet Legacy – 3 credit hours

Program Costs:
The cost of the USA in Eastern Europe Program is $5,999.00. Program costs include:

  • Tuition for six (6) credit hours
  • All program-related, in-country transportation
  • All program-related housing: Shared occupancy in centrally located hotels/hostels
  • All program-related excursions listed in the itinerary
  • International health insurance & emergency assistance
  • Airport pickup for those who arrive on the assigned day and time
  • A welcome and departure meal in-country

For additional information contact:
Dr. Nick Gossett
Assistant Professor of Russian 
Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literature 

Program Website: