Czech Republic: Arts and Social Change

Study with a community of visual, performing, and literary artists, where art and creative dissent have shaped social change

offered by SIT Study Abroad

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DESCRIPTION

Please visit our website for more information. Prague (program base) Well known for its stunning architecture, this program brings students behind Prague’s historical façade. Students attend cultural activities, festivals, and art shows, which are off the beaten track and represent an alternative and creative culture. In Prague, students live with host families and take part in lectures and seminars on topics related to the history of the arts and social change in the Czech Republic. Students enrolled in the arts studio elective course will conduct independent creative work during this period. Students also may participate in civic initiatives that draw upon the creative legacy of Czech underground culture. These could include Car-free Day and European Mobility Week or arts events that raise awareness of marginalized groups, such as the multicultural festival Colorful Planet and the Babi Leto festival at Prague’s psychiatric clinic. Other cultural activities such as theater projects for refugees, contemporary dance, art, and photo exhibitions help broaden students’ understanding of Czech history and contemporary life. Choice of focus Through the program’s foundation seminar, students examine contemporary arts in the Czech Republic as well as the role art played as an agent of social change throughout the country’s twentieth-century history. Students are then able to delve deeper into these themes through the continuation course where students visit nonprofit organizations devoted to social change or, alternatively, students can enroll in the program’s Arts Studio course, specifically customized for students of visual and performing arts and creative writing. Educational excursions in different artistic and cultural contexts in central Europe During the first month of the semester, students participate in educational excursions to rural Czech villages in Moravia or Bohemia to learn about the art culture and social reality beyond Prague. Students interact with local residents, community leaders, and artists involved in initiatives for cultural revival and community development. Students also travel to the former Sudetenland to discuss Czech-German cultural relations and to Slovakia, Poland, to conduct comparative studies of these neighboring countries’ arts and civic initiatives. Independent Study Project During the final month of the semester, each student pursues an Independent Study Project (ISP). The project gives students a unique opportunity to critically examine a topic, situation, or community related to the arts or social change in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Poland. Artists, civil society activists, professors, and specialists help students in the development and implementation of their ISP, which may include daily work with an organization or school or a creative component in visual arts, creative writing, or film. Sample topic areas: Roma identity in the Czech Republic Slovak language laws and ethnic marginalization Artists working outside the official realm under communism The experience of Czechs and Germans in post-war Sudetenland. Creative projects have included: Sculpture and ceramic vessels inspired by the Celts of Central Europe A screenplay inspired by Czech absurdist literature A graphic design project inspired by Czech cubist architecture Creative non-fiction work and films drawing upon the social reality of life under communism Explore the Czech Republic's contemporary art scene and the role of art as a social change agent throughout the country's history.  Students study the country's communist past, its post-socialist transition, and the new challenges facing artists and communities today as a result of globalization and tourism. Site visits to artists' studios and theaters, NGO offices, and community centers expose students to the country's beleaguered arts infrastructure as well as the initiatives in place to protect and promote the arts and social initiatives. The program consists of three main components: An eight- to twelve-week homestay in Prague. During this period, students have lectures, participate in roundtable discussions with leading specialists in the arts and post-socialist society, visit NGOs and artist studios, and engage in the cultural life of Prague. This includes attending gallery openings and theater performances and joining Czech participants in visual arts, dance, and other arts classes. Fifteen days of educational excursions in the Czech Republic, Poland, and central Slovakia. The program also includes an excursion to the former Sudetenland. A final four-week period during which students focus on an Independent Study Project (ISP). Each facet of the program exposes students to different perspectives on the role and evolution of art throughout Central European history and the impact of post-socialism on the contemporary arts scene.

SUBJECTS

  • European Studies
  • Arts
  • Studio Arts
  • Art/Fine Arts
  • Dance
  • Theater, Drama, Dance
  • Creative Writing

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