May Term

The following undergraduate course will be offered in summer 2020.

May Term 2020

GLOS 3900: The Great Transformation of European Cities: Berlin as a Study in Speculation and Defiance—A Study Abroad Course in Berlin

Twenty-first century cities face new challenges as they compete for international investment and promise ‘world class’ infrastructure.  Berlin is a fascinating case study of the conflicting interests of the demands of global capitalism and the needs of city dwellers to access essential public goods such as housing, health care, schooling, the arts, and public squares. This course provides students with an opportunity to learn about these challenges and the resistance against them from Berliners themselves.

In this course you will:

  • spend one week in Minneapolis studying about Berlin through texts of nonfiction and fiction, film, discussion, and guest speakers, and preparing for the excursion through readings and discussion on culturally sensitive and respectful travel and the Do’s and Don’ts of studying abroad.
  • spend two weeks in Berlin, meeting every morning for an introduction to the day’s topic by a local expert, then participate in a neighborhood walking tour that will include stops at a variety of places where we will meet a range of workers, artists, community leaders offering their perspectives on urban issues. We will eat at least two meals on the weekdays together, sometimes with community members.
  • have group and individual visits to key historic sites marking different periods of rule and power, such as the 18th century Brandenburg Gate, the rule of Hitler, the tragedy of the Holocaust, the division of the city, Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall, and much more.
  • explore creative, artistic, culinary, and musical dimensions of the city that are emblematic of its vitality and diversity.

Program Dates

Monday, May 18 to Friday, May 22: University of Minnesota on-campus classroom component, two two-hour sessions daily

Saturday May 23 through Sunday, June 7 in Berlin (and in transit)

The on-campus and Berlin components of the class are both required. 

Program Leaders

  • Dr. Michael Goldman teaches in the Institute for Global Studies and the Department of Sociology and specializes in transnational political economy and urban sociology.  He has taught courses such as “Social Change and the Global City” and “Urban Love, Fear, and Uprising: In Search of a more Humane Urbanism.”
  • Dr. Danielle Dadras


The program includes daily explorations of relevant city sites and visits to nonprofits, social agencies, community and advocacy groups, neighborhood centers, etc. A complete list will be posted as events are confirmed.

Housing and Meals

Students will share a room in a hotel in the center of Berlin. Housing and breakfast are covered as well as some communal meals.

Program Cost

The course is funded by a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) grant to the University's Center for German and European Studies. The grant will pay for students' housing, some meals, and public transportation and field trips in Berlin. Students will get reimbursed for up to $1,400 towards their airfare. The grant also covers the students' Learning Abroad fees. Any additional incidental expenses, some meals, and non-program-related travel are the responsibility of the student. 

Because grant funding is limited, this program will have a capacity of 10 students.

Application Procedure

Interested students should apply directly to the Center for German & European Studies by submitting a one-page, single-spaced essay outlining their interest in the topic of the course.  The essay should address also how the course topic relates to the student's academic, personal, and professional goals. The essay should be emailed to by the end of Friday, February 28, 2020.

Students will be selected by a committee of center-affiliated faculty and notified by mid-March.

For more information contact Klaas van der Sanden in the Center for German & European Studies by emailing