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.
Required CIEE Courses
Future Cities Design Studio
Globalization has had a profound impact on the shape and dynamics of cities. This impact can be felt at the historic urban centers and on agricultural peripheries alike. While recognizable city centers might remain, in many cases they are now supplemented with multiple centers, hubs and nodes. Typically, these centers are drawn together in a network of communication infrastructures (rail, road, air, internet) to form complex polycentric urban systems that extend far into once rural hinterlands. The scale, reach and networked quality of these urban configurations have generated both positive and negative urban experiences at the local, regional and global levels.
Using the city 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 public and infrastructural support. The chief directives will be the shrewd intersection between technology and urbanism, especially under the rubric of ecology. It is our supposition that the prospective ecological city is about extreme solutions to an extreme predicament.
This studio will examine this emergent urban condition by focusing on those sites that are seen to concentrate spatial, economic, social and cultural experiences to positive effect. It is interested in the new kinds of intensity of urban experience that are stimulated by the interactions of local sites (topographically) and trans-local networks (topologically). It will pay particular attention to the catalytic circumstances or specific conditions of possibility that give rise to new, productive and sustainable forms of urban experience. In doing so, the studio will focus on two significant urban conditions: at the neighborhood scale it examines specific building typology in the urban fabric or, at the regional scale, will focus on large infrastructure such as an airport as the driver of a particular kind of urbanization in specific sites in Barcelona, Berlin and Prague
Recommended credit: 6 semester / 9 quarter hours.
Future Cities Seminar
Three momentous developments, occurring only within the last decade, are having a lasting effect on our planet: 1. More people now live in cities than in the countryside, an unprecedented occasion in human history; 2. There is now a consensus that human activity is a powerful, adverse contributor to climate change; 3. A new revolution is underway—replacing the previous model created by the Industrial Revolution—that is based on a search for alternative, renewable energy generation and sustainable living. The intention of this course is to research the myriad consequences of these radical changes to the city, and explore how architectural and urban design is adapting to address these changes.
The course will investigate a series of interrelated themes of fundamental importance to the health of cities: political will and political failure in the determination of urban policy; demographic challenges (shrinking versus expanding cities); the enduring influence of specific modern urban movements (Garden City, modernism, postmodernism, “Critical Reconstruction,” “New Urbanism”); contrasting patterns of racism, poverty, and immigration; security in an age of war, chronic criminality and terrorism, etc. Global warming and environmental degradation will be a central concern. The continued dramatic consumption of oil and energy, the unregulated creation and dispersion of pollution, the alarming increase of CO2 emissions, and the consequent alterations to the earth's climatic equilibrium are no longer phenomena that can be ignored by architects and urban planners.
The main urban study, however, will be the host city (Barcelona, Berlin or Prague) and its surroundings, for it is here that a rich variety of trendsetting Spanish, German or Czech projects of sustainable design can be experienced firsthand. These community development and building projects offer exciting solutions for public participation, the use of recycled energy, efficient lighting, natural materials, converted infrastructure, and ecological/political coordination, and we will visit a number of these during scheduled field trips. The resulting insights into strategies for creating livable, socially responsible urban environments will be valuable both to students of architecture and those outside the discipline. For indeed, cities have always reflected the combined efforts of human civilization and will continue to require interdisciplinary teamwork to survive and flourish.
Recommended credit: 3 semester / 4.5 quarter hours.
Science, Engineering and Technology Workshops
In a series of hands-on workshops, the students will learn about cutting edge technological tools and local applications. The workshops will be developed in collaboration with faculty and innovators in each city.
Parametric and Performance Design:
The conceptual and technical sphere of parametric design will be introduced in this workshop by learning systemic processes capable of reacting to various ecologic factors. We will focus on parametric design logic, computational geometry, modeling techniques, and environmental influencers to create radical design answers. The workshop will focus on formal synthesis based on a combination of scientific rigor and artistic expressionism. A series of programs will offer the possibility to explore parametric and computational design with extraordinary flexibility. The workshop will reexamine the role of parametric design and demand judgment rather than rely purely on calculus. The use of parametric computation will be less interested in aesthetics than in solutions—a series of fixes that happen fast and smart. Workshop focused on parametric tools (such as grasshopper and ecotect) with the help of plug ins (such as Geko or Galapagos) for the development of parametric geometries controlled by environmental parameters.
Design, modeling, simulation and representation technologies play a major part in the quest for enhanced sustainability of buildings and the city as a whole. Model-embedded geometric, material and performance information influences work flows to enrich them with design-intrinsic decision metrics, which when seen through the lens of locally appropriate sustainability factors can enhance the reading and construction of contextually appropriate architecture.
As such, the workshop will first introduce (6 sessions) the free-form 3d modeling tool Rhinoceros3d and the parametric scripting/modeling environment Grasshopper3d; students will learn how to build clean, geometrically complex models and how digital data needs to be processed for subsequent 3d printing applications. The fundamental knowledge thus gained will not only benefit the studio and advanced modeling workshops to be held in it, with which class content is synchronized, but also pave the way for the subsequent 'robust' performance modeling workshop component.
Berlin's local building fabric is shaped by a multitude of typologies and related construction methods, of which vernacular historic industrial and housing are a major part. As history has shown, these structures are highly adaptable to new use types and within limits offer a relatively stable building environmental climate, by virtue of their mass and generous volumetrics.
To further investigate these issues and connect design technology exploration to local phenomena, the second part of the workshop (7 sessions) will a) trough lectures on local building fabric aspects (plus possible site visits) and b) an introduction to thermal and daylight building performance simulation increase participants' understanding of building performance science basics in general and as related to Berlin's climate, fabric and predominant building use. Combined lectures and exercises on building performance simulation through EnergyPlus (OpenStudio) and Radiance/Daysim (Diva4Rhino or Honeybee) will enable students to acquire basic simulation knowledge and apply it by evaluating existing local building stock, which will aid the discussion of local energetic and general sustainability factors. The acquired simulation and urban contextual knowledge will hence aid the studio goal of designing innovative, adaptive structures by creating beneficial performance evaluation skills on both a theoretical building typology as well as a practical design benchmarking level.
CIEE Elective Courses
German Architectural History and Theory
This course provides students with fundamental knowledge of the German architectural tradition through a historical survey of key buildings and urban spaces. Political, cultural, historical and technological factors will be closely studied as influences on the process of design and final built forms. The themes of creation and destruction, growing and shrinking cities and sustainability will run through this course. This course will also examine the worldwide influence of German architects with careful attention paid to distinctions between German and American styles and the interplay therein. Site visits throughout Berlin, drawing and photography will be used to sharpen the student’s eye for detail. Sites include, the buildings of Unter den Linden and the Museum Island (by Schinkel, Prussian classical), Tempelhof Airport (by Speer & Sagebiel fascist), Potsdamer Platz (by Jahn and Piano, modern). Guest lecturers and ongoing lectures at the UdK augment the curriculum. Recommended credit 3 semester / 4.5 quarter hours.
Monument, Memorial and Public Space in Germany (1919-Present)
This course looks at the important role that monuments, memorials and public spaces have played in Germany’s turbulent modern history. Weimar designs, Fascist Nazi designs and the stark contrasts between former-East and former-West German places and spaces are highlighted as expressions of cultural values and dictated doctrine shaped by the powerful and complex historical forces of war, politics, aesthetics and collective memory. In addition, postwar and post-Wall ruins and rebuilding efforts shed light on what today is saved, what is erased and what is honored on the German landscape. Particular attention is given to Holocaust memorials and places of remembrance. Themes of pride, shame, memory and collective consciousness run deeply through this course. Recommended credit: 3 semester / 4.5 quarter hours.
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 Berlin 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.
The CIEE Study Center in Berlin does not currently offer language courses, but CIEE resident staff can facilitate students’ enrollment in a German language institute. For students choosing this option in lieu of a CIEE elective, CIEE will cover the cost for 60 hours of instruction.