This course will explore how the collective remembrance of historical events (World War II, the Holocaust and Communism) and Poland’s multicultural past, shapes the cultural landscape. Tours of museums, memorials, monuments, and other historic sites will enable students to apply and develop knowledge and skills regarding historical interpretation and preservation. Students will learn how the preservation of historical objects and the memorialization of historical events in public spaces is a contested process that contributes to the formation of national identities.
In this course students will:
1. Observe the various ways museums and historic sites in this part of the world interpret, preserve, and commemorate their history through the examination of exhibits, historic buildings and historic sites.
2. Understand Poland’s transformation from communism to democracy.
3 Analyze ways the Holocaust and other atrocities of World War II are memorialized in public spaces.
4. Sharpen landscape observation and analytical skills through a journal that will record student interpretations of daily events.
5. Gain confidence in the ability to travel in a foreign country
6. Learn basic Polish phrases and cultural behaviors
7. Experience the diverse physical geography of the region through visits to the Tatra Mountains (Carpathian Mountains), Baltic Sea and European plains.
The tour will begin in Krakow, Poland’s historical capital which is now known as its cultural capital. Krakow suffered minimal destruction during World War II and many of its historically significant buildings and sites have been well-preserved.
As we spend the first five days in Krakow, we will not only explore the city itself, including visits to Wawel Castle, Market Square, the Kazimierz District, various museums, the Jewish memory trail, and Oskar Schindler’s Factory, but also take day trips to witness the infamous Nazi concentrations camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, the underground Wieliczka Salt Mines, and the Socialist Realist architecture of Nowa Huta.
Upon departure from Krakow, we will head south to the village of Zakopane nestled in the Tatra Mountain Range, the highest range in the Carpathian Mountains. Students will enjoy a mid-morning hike and spend the rest of the day experiencing the mountain folk culture.
As we make our way north by train, we will stop in the city of Lodz to meet with professors and students from the University of Lodz, one of UCO’s study abroad partner universities, and enjoy a walking tour of Poland’s third-largest city.
From Lodz we will travel to Warsaw, Poland’s capital city. During our three-night and two-day stay in Warsaw, students will explore the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the Palace of Culture, the National Museum, and observe many significant historic sites, districts, and churches during our walking tour of the old city and the new city.
The coastal city of Gdansk will be our final stop on the tour. Due to its strategic location on the Baltic Sea Coast, it changed hands among different empires including Prussia and Germany before gaining its independence after World War II. Students will visit Westerplatte, the site of the first battle between Poland and Germany , which was also the first battle in the European Theater during World War II.
We will visit monuments dedicated to the Solidarity Movement which was the catalyst for the fall of communism in Europe. Students will also visit the Amber Museum and the small city of Hel on the Hel Peninsula where they will explore the lighthouse, museum of Coastal Defence, and a Baltic seal nursery.
The study tour cost per person is $2700, excluding tuition and fees, and includes roundtrip airfare, hotel fees, ground transportation in Poland, group breakfasts, and entrance fees to museums and sites. Students will be responsible for lunches and dinners. The first payment of $1600 is due immediately.