February 23, 2007

Slavic Department forms study abroad program

The Slavic Languages and Literatures Department unveiled plans for a new quarter-long study abroad program to be launched in winter 2008.

The program, “Europe East and West,” will operate out of the University’s Paris Center. It will include a week-long excursion to an Eastern European capital. St. Petersburg will most likely be the destination city, though plans are still under development, said Robert Bird, assistant professor in Slavic Languages.

The program is designed to “focus on key components in interactions between Eastern and Western cultures,” Bird said. This multicultural dimension is intended to distinguish the program from traditional cultural immersion courses of study, promising an “original looking” platform for both Slavic majors and all interested students.

The program was born out of a desire to enhance travel opportunities for students studying Slavic languages, Bird said. “We had been looking for this opportunity.”

The interdisciplinary program incorporates an array of foreign language, civilization, and international studies coursework. Students select three courses to take in succession for three weeks each, in addition to a quarter-long language course in French, Russian, Polish, or a Slavic language.

The curriculum will be designed and taught by University of Chicago faculty members, and it will reflect the program’s objective of investigating Europe’s East–West cultural, economic, and political relations. Bird, along with University professors Malynne Sternstein and Bozena Shallcross, will be teaching the program’s courses next winter.

Despite its emphasis on Slavic cultures, “it is not a civilization sequence,” Bird said. The program’s structure was designed to introduce students to a range of issues extending beyond the focus of traditional civilization courses.

The program will explore the history of Eastern Europe from the 1800s onward in courses that address topics including 19th-century Romanticism, the Avant Garde movement in Eastern and Western Europe, contemporary European cinema, and the effects of globalization on modern Europe.