Fall 2023

Carleton College’s  Women’s and Gender Studies in Europe (WGSE) program focuses on women’s, feminist, and LGBTQ+ issues across Western and East-Central Europe. Participants study feminist and queer theory, cross-cultural feminist methodology, and European situated feminisms and conduct independent research projects while traveling to the Netherlands (Utrecht and Amsterdam), Germany (Berlin), the Czech Republic (Prague and Olomouc), and Poland (Krakow).

Program Highlights

  • Exploring WGS issues in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Czech Republic comparatively.
  • Moving beyond Western frameworks and learning about gender regimes and history of women’s emancipation in the former Eastern European bloc.
  • Designing and carrying out independent research on an individualized topic within the WGS field. Independent Student Projects will combine in-person and remote interviews and research.

One of the principal goals of the program is a comparative exploration of Europe in its heterogeneity. The program’s focus is on bringing the margins to the center. Participants explore the diversity that is Europe from the perspectives of women and sexual and ethnic/racial minorities. Students learn about the historical and current day experiences of the citizens of Jewish, Afro-German, and Turkish backgrounds in Germany, about the struggles of the Roma women in Poland, and the recent changes to Swedish immigration policy that have reduced the number of immigrants and refugees. These topics are addressed both through scholarly inquiry and situated empirical experience throughout the semester, framed through our discussions of post-colonial, feminist, and queer theories.

What does it mean to realize that some goals of the feminist second wave, such as reproductive rights, accessibility to higher education for women, or equal employment opportunities, were argued and achieved in much of the former Eastern bloc as part and parcel of the socialist doctrine?

How does the story of LGBTQ+ activism unfold in a social context where homosexuality and trans*sexuality have been discussed in a medical/sexological framework until very recently?

These topics are framed through our discussions of post-colonial, feminist and queer theories, and they are explored through students’ self-designed field research.

Program Structure

Following an orientation to the program, WGSE participants begin a comparative study of Women’s and Gender Studies topics and issues in Utrecht/Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, and Krakow. Students come face to face with leading theories in WGS and have the opportunity to test their knowledge while working on their independent research projects. Participants attend lectures and take seminars with Director Iveta Jusová, PhD, as well as with NGOs, artists, activists, and professors from affiliated European universities, including Utrecht University, Humboldt University, Charles University, and Jagiellonian University.

While in Poland, the group visits the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Weekend excursions take students to the Texel Island (Netherlands), the Bad Saarow thermal mineral spa (Germany), and to Olomouc and Javoricske caverns in Moravia (the Czech Republic).

Accommodations and Meals

Students stay in private apartments, student dorms and home-stays throughout Europe. Specific accommodations will be detailed in information packets sent prior to students’ departure for the program. Typically, accommodations include the following: private apartments in Utrecht and Prague; home-stays in Berlin; student dorms in Olomouc; and hotel in Krakow.

Students are given a stipend to purchase their own meals. They can eat out or purchase groceries to cook (in most accommodations). Because students often select their own places to eat, we can accommodate most diets.