Note: This course listing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a contract between CIEE and any applicant, student, institution, or other party. The courses, as described, may be subject to change as a result of ongoing curricular revisions, assignment of lecturers and teaching staff, and program development. Courses may be canceled due to insufficient enrollment.
CIEE Study Center Syllabi
To view the most recent syllabi for courses taught by CIEE at our Study Centers, visit our syllabi site.
Future Cities Design Studio
Living Urban Infrastructure
Using Prague as a laboratory, the studio will rethink what is salubrious about the city, in both its forms and its life. The design investigations will be based on one illuminating hypothesis: in the future, cities will grow to be self-sufficient in their critical necessities through massive public works and infrastructural support. The studio will explore the effects of technological interventions that can have profound impacts on the planet as a whole. The chief directives will be the shrewd intersection between technology and urbanism, especially under the rubric of ecology.
In 2002, Prague has suffered extreme damage from record high levels of its river Vltava. The historic center of the city was surged with water and the ruinous aftermath of the flooding left city officials with no other options but to design temporary gates as an emergency defense system. The proposed metal walls are then quickly installed along the banks before the volume of river rose. Luckily, during most recent flooding, the defense system provided decent protection in the old center. However, the system is only functional to a certain capacity, and it still left other areas of the city under water.
Historically, river Vltava has played a fundamental role in the development of Prague. It provided water and a means of navigation for the early settlements established along its banks. It was also used to power mills and industry in the city. To tame the river and make it easier to navigate, eight dams, a large canal and several weirs were constructed during 20th century. Nevertheless, even with its strong appearance on the urban fabric, Vltava is considered generally inaccessible and unreachable along most of its length throughout Prague. Surprisingly, recent floods made Vltava contextually more present in the city and visible for inhabitants. It also made a dramatic transformation of the city's infrastructure and changed the typical behavior of pedestrians and traffic commuters. ONE Lab Prague will use the opportunity that emerged from these events and study the rapid reshaping of urban context and propose new solutions for Amphibious-Based Architecture and Transmutable Urbanism.
There are many sites along the river, which have particular value to the city and at the same time are influential for their surrounding context. They are a meeting place for local neighborhoods, and destination points for many tourists and residents of Prague. However, with every new flooding, these attractive locations become evacuated and sealed off, directly transforming local environment and infrastructure. One such location is Kampa, an island sitting bellow the famous Charles Bridge in the historical district known as Lesser Town. Unlike other islands on Vltava, Kampa is separated from Lesser Town by a narrow artificial channel to the west called the Devil's Stream, a waterway originally dug to power water mills. Besides the Charles Bridge, the north tip of the island is hosting medieval residential buildings, governmental offices and restaurants. The south half of Kampa has a large park and a wellknown Museum of Art sitting on the very edge of water. The studio will be focusing on the Museum and its relationship with land and water. During every flood the museum has to move its collection to higher floors and is unreachable for weeks after the flood. Therefore, students will address this problem by proposing a new redesign and extension of the current building while at the same time working with the landscape and incorporating flood barriers that will question current water protection system and be a novel example for future anti-inundation mechanisms.
Through intensive research and design, the Future Cities Design Studio will navigate with two objectives: first, on a large scale, to investigate how the current riverbed can be remodelled and aggrandized deeper into the existing matrix of the city. Students will design and simulate new river tissues with increased capacity for higher water volumes, and propose river edges better connected with local neighborhoods. The second objective is to focus on a specific site along Vltava through existing or newly proposed architectural typology, whilst dealing with local context and flood protection system. Within design process, the studio will explore current and future technologies of flood barriers, study water defense systems in nature, rethink typology, and finally, emerge with new ideas for amphibious buildings.
In reaching the goals, the studio will deploy computational tools within the realm of digital design. Students will use Autodesk Maya for topological, parametric and animation-based 3D modeling and Rhinoceros for 2D drafting. Software will be learned through small studio workshop sessions, and through project designs with case studies related to general theme. Other advance tools, such as Processing for data visualization, and Ecotect or Rhino Grasshopper for environmental simulations and fabrication, will be explored through more intensive science-, engineering- and technology-related workshops. There will be an interchangeable process and active outcome travelling between the design studio and the technology workshops.
In order to achieve coherent, diverse and conclusive results, students will be group into several teams. Groups will commence the program with the research related to a specific topic and explore vernacular conditions. Further, teams will experiment with urban tissue and generate variations of networks for an expanded riverbed. These results will be presented in a large-scale physical model with mapping projections showcasing the material of the teams. Finally, each group will produce a more developed and detailed design of their site-specific projects. A jury will evaluate and discuss the concept, technological principles, and ecological footprint of the proposals. The projects will be formulated and communicated in diagrams, drawings, renderings and a physical model.
Future Cities Seminar
Future Cities : City and water
At the beginning of 21st century the side-effects of globalization, new industrialization and rapid development of third-world countries are often being manifested as catastrophic impacts on environment we live in. The latest statistics are showing 53% of world population living in the cities and 65 percent of fresh water being drained from natural surrounding of North America and Europe only due to intense agriculture. However, most of the society tangled in the digital network of daily lives, is not directly feeling the consequences of decreasing water levels, despite the fact that there is only 15% of Earth's inhabitants currently not threatened by water shortage. Furthermore, there are natural disasters and forces in form of flooding, heavy rain or extreme drought which are reshaping infrastructure, changing both urban and rural fabrics, destroying historical cores of cities, disrupting entire ecosystems, and inevitably destabilizing local economy.
Despite these problems, a new revolution is emerging from cross-disciplinary collaboration between creative industry and research laboratories. Architects and designers are working with marine biologists, mechanical engineers and other scientists on projects or technologies revolving around alternative, renewable energies and sustainable living. The projects are ranging from concepts that can be build or applied even today to speculative scenarios for future cities we will occupy in even greater numbers. As Global Architecture and Design program is structured around sustainable design in the intersection between technology and urbanism., the Future Cities Seminar in Prague will be analysing, studying and conducting research on relationship between city and water, in both global and local scale.
Future Cities Seminar is organized in five 1-day research blocks, each focusing on different topic relative to the program and brief of Future Cities Design Studio. Through lectures we will examine the context on both artificial and natural islands, public spaces and water, program and typology, and look into more extreme examples of ''Hydro-cities'' and land reclaim projects in Gulf region, Asia and Africa. We will also browse through 20th century inventions, architectural engineering and structural designs developed by Frei Otto, Oscar Niemeyer and other prominent visionaries of last hundred years. The seminar will have provocative approach on various issues and seek for radical thinking in solving problems such is the large "plastic stain" floating as a garbage island in the centre of Pacific Ocean and its potential to be harvested for energy rather than further polluting coast land. These lectures will be followed by group work where students will map river islands in selected cities, make comparison in sizes and types of interrelation between water and city, and analyse existing flood protection systems. The outcome should serve as both theoretical and practical background and research for the project developed within Global AD Future Cities Design Studio.
Science, Engineering and Technology Workshops
Computation-based Tools in Design
Computation is defined as information processing; such information might manifest itself in several forms (energy, matter, 3D models, encoded data). The general scope is to have access and be able to manage and instrumentalize complexity in design. Computation-based tools help establish an information-based infrastructure that allows complex information to be incorporated in design objects and processes as well as to flow seamlessly within the design workflow. Tools establish a dialogue in the process of translating non-architectural problems into architectural responses (space, material, structure, affects). We can boil down their possible scopes to two main kinds: problem solving and exploration. The first one is aimed with a clear focus on its goal; the second one starts from certain conditions but is open-ended. Either way the minimization of effort is a common search criteria to embed efficiency in the design process, though it doesn't always become a general driver. The ecosystemic call for a more heterogeneous landscape of solutions induces the search for less standardized approaches and processes, therefore the possibility to craft own instruments and processes that can manage greater complexity (accessing a broader field of possibilities and opportunities by increasing the complexity in information processing through computation) becomes an irreducible part of the design problem. Computation-based tools and designers become part of the design environment, considering the designer as a sophisticated computing device which is part of the process: its relations with tools changes form the figure of a puppeteer to a specie in an ecosystem of objects. Tools become orienting devices in the exploration of an unknown territory; it's all about automation and control: the designer decides what pattern of distribution will decision have in the creative process, if advocate it all to himself or distribute it (partially or completely) to the material system, computational system or other automated processes.
Throughout the whole design process, computation is the common substrate, the connective tissue that allows the more or less seamless flow of information from one aspect to the next, from analysis to design to fabrication, allowing the establishment of iterations, non-linear links between different phases and the implementation of custom processes. More specifically, and with relations with the actual design task, here are outlined the main opportunities of the use of computation based tools in the different steps of the design process tackled in two workshops:
1st Workshop: Environmental Sensibilities
- Purpose: Environmental simulation - Using environmental data as a substrate (or playground) for design decisions and testing their potential feedbacks.
- Tools: Rhinoceros, Grasshopper + Ecotect with gEco plug-in
Grasshopper is a visual scripting plug-in for Rhinoceros (3D NURBS CAD). It's a data processor with a visual, easy-to-grasp interface; working on top of a 3D CAD it has the possibility to translate data into geometry, allowing to analyze it and generate data driven ones. Since its structure is based on parameters it has been naturally associated with parametric design. Its flexibility and extensibility granted by its community of contributors expanded its range of application from concept design to project engineering, making it the weapon of choice of many architecture and engineering firms. This workshop will introduce students to its structure, its logic, data management (with import-export from other platforms), basic geometry generation and properties as well as focusing on how to acquire and manage relevant environmental information such as solar energy accumulated on surfaces, terrain analysis, slant and simulation of flooding descent paths.
2nd Workshop: Algorithm 2 Fabrication
- Purpose: Design to fabrication
- Tools: Rhinoceros, Grasshopper + other fabrication-specific plug-ins
- Tools shorten the path between idea and realization, including fab and material processes form the beginning in the design tool.
- Fabrication becomes a design constraint within the whole process, not just a translation of a rendered image but a whole territory rich in opportunities and qualities. Tools help exploring and incorporating such opportunities in the architectural design process, with the possibility to link the design to economic and feasibility parameters.
This workshop will focus on the steps that bring from the design in the digital realm to its physical realization through numerically-controlled machines. Fabrication is an important part of the design process and will be watched as an opportunity in that regard, beyond the notion of a digital perfection that should be considered as an ideal finalization. Students will learn how to talk to machines and feed them the information they need to operate, understanding concepts such as geometry analysis, relation with material and construction logics (discretization, components, connections and how these parts might be fused together), machine constraints (and how to exploit them as creative opportunities), tolerance and approximation. They will also understand the importance of a fab plan (components, stripes, etc.), tagging and recognition of components relations.
CIEE Elective Courses
Art and Architecture of Prague
This course provides a survey of art and architecture, especially housing styles, which have influenced the development of Prague and other major European cities from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. Excursions to art galleries and related architectural monuments are combined with classroom lectures.
Collective Identity in a Totalitarian Regime
This course examines the totalitarian oppression from the point of view of ordinary citizens in socialist Czechoslovakia. It focuses on the construction of collective mentality through everyday official/public and unofficial/private activities, including mass parades, ceremonies and performances, work relations, children’s education, housing schemes, or collective vacationing. The goal is to demonstrate the consequences of life in an oppressive regime: suppression of fundamental forms of civic interaction, such as independent public communication, and distortion of moral and behavioral norms.
ENVI 3001 PRAG
European Environmental Studies
This course examines the relationship between human society and the natural environment with a specific focus on the Czech landscape as a place for human-nature interaction. In addition the course explores European integration from an environmental perspective, the ecological footprint and problem of climate change, and environmental ethics in contemporary European society.
CEAS 3004 PRAG / COMM 3001 PRAG
Media Impact in Central Europe: Past and Present
This course examines the role and impact of international and domestic media on political developments in Central Europe, examining the way of doing journalism at Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and comparing it to the approaches of other media companies. The course looks at journalism, technology, and logistics used by RFE/RL during the Cold War, and at its current ways of providing information to areas of the world where the press is restricted or tightly controlled. Journalists from RFE/RL and other media are frequent guest speakers. A key aspect of the course is the focus on coverage of religious, ethnic, and other emotionally sensitive issues, and students gain special insights into coverage of current events. They learn about the dynamics of social tensions in transitional and post-communist societies, and how the media is contributing to shaping the history of countries faced with their legacy and with the new challenges of EU membership.
AHIS 3003 PRAG
Modern Czech Art
Combining classroom lectures with gallery visits, this course acquaints students with 20th century art movements and tendencies. Based upon the analysis of the oeuvre of key Czech artists and various topics, ranging from the expressions of Czech national identity in the finde-siecle art to the art produced under the Communist regime, the course tackles the social and political development of the Central European region. Contact hours: TBD. Recommended credit: TBD semester/TBD quarter hours.
COMM 3301 PRAG
Intercultural Communication and Leadership
In this class, participants will develop skills, knowledge, and understanding that will help them communicate and engage more appropriately and effectively in Prague as well as in other intercultural contexts. Students will explore various topics in intercultural communication in the context of their experience abroad, and will practice intercultural learning processes that they can apply when working across difference in a wide variety of contexts. Participants will increase their own cultural self-awareness and develop personal leadership skills to help them become more effective in an interdependent world. Learning will involve in-class exercises, active reflection, discussion, readings, field reports, short lectures, and out-of-class activities that engage students in the local culture on a deeper level.
Contact hours: 42. Recommended credit: 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours.
CIEE Language Courses
Beginning Czech Language, I
Beginning Czech Language, II (Academic Year students in spring semester)
Beginning Czech Language, Fast Track
Intermediate Czech Language, I
Intermediate Czech Language, II (Academic Year students in spring semester)
Advanced Czech Language, I
These courses provide students with the basic skills needed to communicate on a daily basis, including grammar, conversation, listening, and reading comprehension. During the first two weeks, students study Czech language five hours each day. Students then continue language study with classes two days per week. Students are placed into classes based on language background.
Contact hours: 115. Recommended credit: 4 semester/6 quarter hours.