Berlin: Conflict, Community, and Sustainability

(September Course)
The group gathers outdoors around the professor, who is speaking while standing next to a map. Many of the participants are holding umbrellas. Behind them are a large brick building, trees, and a road with cars passing by.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Xhesika Bardhi

Application Deadline:


The Berlin September program will introduce topics in urban planning, including housing, conservation, urban design and transportation, and at the same time will focus on the lived experiences of current residents and related political questions around community, environment, and planning that form the core of our undergraduate ENST/CEGU major.

The September 2024 program will take place from Friday, August 30, 2024 through Saturday, September 21, 2024. Participants will be required to commit to the full duration of the program in line with these dates.

    Berlin: Conflict, Community, and Sustainability
    Evan Carver, Assistant Instructional Professor, Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU)

    Berlin: What makes a city? Who decides how a city grows and changes, and what criteria do they use — should it be beautiful, efficient, sustainable, open, just? How do economic systems and political ideologies shape urban development? What is the “right to the city,” and what does it mean for city-dwellers to exercise it? These are just some of the questions we will seek to answer in our course, Berlin: Conflict, Community, and Sustainability.

    This course will expose students to the dynamics of urban change in one of the most historically freighted and contested cities in the world. They will come to understand the complex histories behind Berlin’s urban spaces, and the strategies adopted by local actors to deal with those histories while finding agency to shape them for the future. Students will experience first-hand how spaces have been defined by drivers like economic exigency, political ideology, violence, environmental conditions, non-human species, and technological development, and they will learn how contemporary challenges, including climate change, gentrification, and immigration butt up against competing ambitions for Berlin to become a “global city” and for it to maintain its distinct character. In addition, by considering Berlin as represented in film, this course explores techniques for defining and redefining the meaning of urban space using multisensory media. You will learn about — and ultimately use — film as a tool for analyzing urban space, shaping narratives, and reflecting on urban life in Berlin today.

    The program includes a side trip over a long weekend to the cities of Hamburg and Lübeck.

    This program is ideal for undergraduates with a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives who share an interest in the European metropolis as a site for and object of study, or who are concerned about significant themes like sustainability, memorialization, and representation in the city. While students majoring or minoring in ENST/CEGU, ARCH, or GRMN will find the material immediately and directly relevant to their core studies, students coming from HIST, PBPL, SOCI, ANTH, GLST, or ARTH are likely to find the course complementary, and applicants from any other interested field are also most welcome.

    Berlin program participants usually reside in single rooms, with a queen-sized bed and a shared kitchen and high-speed internet.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of housing in Germany and understand that the amenities of the student residences may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Berlin will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the Berlin program will take and receive credit for one 100-unit course. This course is considered part of the students’ Summer Quarter course load and is recorded as a course enrollment on their Summer Quarter registration. The course title, units of credit, and grade are placed on the College transcript.

    Completion of a September course abroad will earn students 1 point toward Global Honors, the College’s recognition of exceptional global engagement. Visit the Chicago Language Center’s website for information on how to apply for Global Honors.

    Study abroad students pay regular Summer Quarter tuition at the one-course rate, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for Summer 2024 are listed below:

    Summer tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office for one course

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Berlin September program fee: $4,000

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses 

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $275 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Berlin is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Participants in summer College-sponsored programs are eligible for need-based financial aid, following the procedure described on the Summer Financial Aid page of the Financial Aid website. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our general Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The Berlin September program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the course is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite.

    Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program, please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Berlin September program and the possibility of participating, please contact Xhesika Bardhi.