About Central Europe

Since the dramatic events of 1989 the nation-states of Central Europe have experienced varying degrees of socio-economic and political change. The experiments in promoting democratic governance and market-based economics have not been universally successful. Central European governments also have been forced to confront the implications of multiethnic societies. Ethnic tensions that had been pent up for decades were unleashed with the fall of communism, posing serious challenges for governments within the region. The issue of ethnic minority rights has generated great interest and remains very much in debate. This debate, coupled with the uncertain future of socio-economic and political reforms being questioned by many, makes Central Europe particularly interesting to study.

The Program

This program is based in four sites during the course of the semester: Tuebingen, Germany (at the University of Tuebingen); Berlin, Germany; Cluj-Napoca, Romania (Babes-Bolyai University); and Budapest, Hungary (Central European University). The program examines issues related to ethnicity and multiculturalism and the process of socioeconomic and political transition underway in the region. Each site provides a different perspective on these issues, facilitating comparative analysis that will provide students with insight into the implications of these issues for Europe and beyond. Local university students may also participate in this program, enhancing your cross-cultural experience.


All students participating in the program will be required to take four courses:

Ethnic Relations in Multicultural Societies (1 credit)
This course examines the problems associated with ethnic diversity in Germany, Romania and Hungary. In each country, different kinds of groups, economic conditions, cultural contentions, and political mobilization can be found. For example, Germany faces challenges of national identity and citizenship that arise from immigration, unification, and globalization. Romania's historical ethnic minorities in Transylvania (Hungarians and the Roma) await. Tuebingen Town Hall successful integration and cultural protection. Due to its loss of territory in World War II, Hungary is persistently involved in the defense of its diaspora in neighboring countries. In addition to identifying different trends, this course will pay careful attention to the underlying common patterns of politics that ethnically-plural societies produce.

The Socioeconomic and Political Transformation of Central Europe (1 credit)
Why have some post-communist societies succeeded at building market systems, civil societies, and liberal-democracies and others have not? This course surveys the relevant literature on transition politics and explores a host of factors that may explain different transitional outcomes. Such factors include the legacies of communism; the role of distinct cultural zones, levels of economic development and social cleavages; the form and manner in Budapest Parliament which communism fell; the institutional choices made during the transition; and the quality of the new political class.

Civilization and Culture in Central Europe (1 credit)
A survey of the history, geography, literature, music, and popular culture of Germany, Hungary, and Romania. In addition to readings and presentations by a variety of guest speakers, group excursions will be organized to a number of relevant sites.

Fall 2008 Director's Seminar: The Rise of a New Generation in Central Europe (1 credit)
In Central Europe, young people are moving into adulthood in a world that radically differs from what their parents experienced. While the parents grew up in totalitarian regimes, mostly confined to the boundaries of their country and to the ideas that censorship allowed exposure to, today's youth have been living in a period of transition to democracy. This transition process has differed widely across the region and students will experience first-hand how democracy has been understood quite differently in the three countries they will visit as part of the Central Europe program. Democratic values are taught to today's youth by adults who are still striving to unlearn undemocratic practices. This course will provide students with insight into key issues in contemporary Central Europe as well as into the region's future through readings and encounters with young people, their parents, and their teachers in Germany, Romania, and Hungary. Among the questions that we will explore are: Where is this young generation going? What legacy are they taking with them? What are their ambitions? What is expected of them? What makes them European, and in what ways are the similar to or different from American students?

Academic Focus

The Central Europe program will be particularly appropriate for students in economics, international relations, European
Studies, history, and those interested in multicultural issues.


This program is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors in good academic and social standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5.
Due to the challenging nature of study abroad, student
academic and disciplinary records will be carefully screened.


Students will be housed in a combination of student dormitories, hotels, and hostels in the various sites.


A variety of excursions are included as part of this program. In addition to a weeklong seminar in Berlin, excursions are tentatively planned to Strasbourg, France; several locations throughout Transylvania, Romania; and sites around Budapest, Hungary. A number of local excursions, including visits to schools, government offices, cultural sites, and other points of interest will also be organized.

Going Abroad with the CGE

Students will be charged standard HWS tuition and room fees, 1/3 board, and a $500 administrative fee. This will cover credit for a four-course semester, housing and partial board, and all course-related excursions. Note that students should bring the remaining 2/3 board (approximately $1600) to cover meals not included. Additional expenses not covered include airfare, books and other course related materials, and personal expenses (laundry, entertainment, some local ground transportation and independent travel). We estimate airfare for this program at approximately $900 from the East Coast and books and course-related materials at $250. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of personal expenses because student spending habits differ considerably. We would suggest a minimum of $1,500 above and beyond meal expenses. However, students on a tight budget should be able to manage with less. If you are concerned about finances, we strongly encourage you to talk to the CGE staff who can offer The Center for Global Education information and advice based on your specific situation.


  • This program is offered every fall semester.
  • Applications are available at the Center for Global Education.
  • Applications are due at the CGE office at a selected date in October.
  • For specific date contact the CGE.

NOTE: The information contained in this brochure is subject to change. Please see the CGE for more information.



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