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 cancelled 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 Berlin as a laboratory, the studio will be used to examine an illuminating hypothesis: in the future, cities will grow to be self-sufficient in their critical necessities through massive public works and infrastructural support.
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
Global Challenges to the 21st Century City: Design and the Promise of Sustainability
Three momentous changes, 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; the role of the automobile in the propagation of suburban sprawl; 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; the emergence of a "planet of slums;" security in an age of war, chronic criminality and terrorism; the threat of disease and epidemics. Global warming and environmental degradation will be a central concern. The accelerated 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.
Current building projects offer exciting solutions for the use of recycled energy, efficient lighting, natural materials, converted infrastructure, and ecological/political coordination, and we will visit several 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 the processes of synthetic biology, smart materials and nanotechnology, growing materials, scripting and computational modeling for controlled growth, and many more. The workshops will be developed in collaboration with faculty and innovators in each city.
- Digital Fabrication
In design, architecture and many other disciplines, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) fabrication equipment has given designers unprecedented means for executing formerly challenging projects directly from the computer. By surpassing the limitations imposed by manufacturing systems based on standardization, the impact of these technologies has fundamentally challenged the paradigm of production, thus opening a wide field of research and experimentation practices and unimaginable design opportunities. In this new context, the workshop will incorporate these technologies as part of its academic agenda and work environment with a Fab-Lab at IAAC that is equipped with several large scale CNC machines (laser cutters, CNC Milling Machines, 3D printers, etc) and spaces for prototyping in a large industrial warehouse setting.
- Soft Infrastructure
This workshop will explore soft infrastructure for mitigating natural hazards based on the sophisticated understanding and mimicry of such natural systems. We will test the possibility of creating a porous boundary where water meets land to dampen powerful storm currents as well as encourage the development of new estuarial habitats. This water infrastructure consists of estuarine canal outlets to tidal strait and water filtration sponges enabling hydrology of wetlands for plant and organism growth.
- Parametric 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.
- Advanced Environmental Digital Design
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.
- Urban Sensing
Urban Data Workshop focused on the development of digital tools and urban applications based on the real time data captured for enhancing citizen participation with the goal of a more optimized and efficient inhabitation of our cities and neighborhoods; Digital Fabrication and Atomization in Construction Workshop based on rapid prototyping and robotic manufacturing for new construction techniques and advanced materials experimentation.
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.
Seminar on Living and Learning in Berlin
The CIEE Seminar on Living and Learning in Berlin is designed to improve students’ intercultural communication and competence while studying abroad by considering how Germans are different from and similar to themselves and others. This learner-centered, interactive course provides opportunities, both inside and outside the curriculum, to develop insights and the skills necessary to interact effectively and appropriately, and to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural richness of Berlin and Germany. Students learn about local cultural practices and values, develop intercultural communication skills, and discuss daily experiences with other CIEE students under the guidance of a knowledgeable cultural mentor. Topics include: values and culture; educational culture, stereotypes and generalizations; intercultural communication; global and self-awareness; empathy and perspective-shifting. Written assignments offer opportunities to apply the concepts they have learned, and to analyze their own cross-cultural interactions.
Recommended credit 2 semester/3 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.