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Psychology of Ethnicity, Ethnic Conflict, and the Holocaust in Germany and Poland


Munich, Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, Germany, Poland

Program Description

The course is open to ALL majors.  PSYC majors can enroll as PSYC 200 or PSYC 400 in this course.  Non-PSYC majors may register for PSYC 200 credit.

How did the Holocaust happen? What other inter-ethnic conflicts persist in Germany and Poland? How have historical forces changed the psychology of ethnicity today? This course uses psychological theory to examine the culture of ethnicity, ethnic identity, and ethnic conflict in Germany and Poland. A multidisciplinary and multimodal approach will be used via on-site experiences and cultural visits, lectures, readings, and written assignments. Visits to historical sites will be included as part of the course, and will include the Berlin Wall, Dachau concentration camp, Auschwitz, the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw and Łódź, and Kazimierz and Oskar Schindler’s enamel ware factory-museum in Kraków.

Course objectives:

§ Determine the extent to which aspects of culture and cultural identities affect individual and group-level thought, emotion, and behavior. Provide specific examples of ethnic and cultural norms for these phenomena.

§ Describe how different aspects of cultural identity affect your own individual actions, attitudes, identity, self-perception, self-esteem, and relationships.

§ Communicate and ask questions from people of similar and different opinions and cultural backgrounds, and identify cultural barriers in communication.

Cluster 5 Goals (Sociocultural Dimension)

§ Describe the sociocultural contexts that influence individual differences.

§ Explain how individual differences influence beliefs, values, and interactions with others and vice versa.

§ Explain how privilege, power, and oppression may affect prejudice, discrimination, and inequity.

§ Recognize prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behaviors that might exist in yourselves and others.

Location Description

Munich is in the heart of Bavaria and is a great place to introduce oneself to German culture and identity. Our city tour will include Marienplatz and the famous city Glockenspiel, the food stalls of Viktualienmarkt, the hallowed halls of Hofbrauhaus, and famed scientific exhibits at Deustches Museum. From Munich, we will take day-trips to Dachau for its vast concentration camp, Füssen to see the historical King Ludwig's massive "fairytale" castle Schloss Neuschwanstein, and finally Stuttgart for the Mercedes-Benz Museum and to learn more about the Swabian ethnicity. We move onto Berlin next to understand more on how the Holocaust and the division of Germany into East and West impacted people and present-day psychology. Visits will include the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the DDR Museum, Pergamon and Museum Island, and the artsy up-and-coming former East Berlin neighborhood Kreuzberg.

From here we train to Warsaw where we will meet descendants of survivors of the Holocaust, and immerse ourselves in Polish culture, as we learn about the German occupation and Communist influence on today. Visits will include the Uprising Museum, the brand new Jewish Culture and History Museum, the Praga district, a Communist era milk bar, and a day-trip to Łódź to see Polish art, industry, and the "Holly-Łódź" of Poland. Our last days will be in the heart of Poland, the former capital city of Kraków. Here we will see the famous Rynek Głowny and city castle, and the Jewish district of Kazimierz with Oskar Schindler's former enamel-ware factory nearby. We will be based in Kraków for day-trips to Auschwitz (Oswiecim) concentration camp and the UNESCO heritage-named Wieliczka salt mine.


Matt Lee | | Psychology


Accommodations will be tentatively provided for through hotels, with two meals per day covered in the program fee.

Additional Items to Consider

Open to ALL majors.

Knowledge of German or Polish preferred but not required.

No visa is required.

Application Process

For this program, students are required to submit the following material(s):

  • Attend an interview with the program director prior to the application deadline: Matt Lee | | Psychology

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.7.

For more detailed instructions and to download the application, please click on the following link to the Applications and Forms section for JMU Short-Term Programs.

Official transcript required for first-semester transfer students and non-JMU students.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


PSYC 200: Topics in Psychology: Study Abroad in Germany and Poland (3 credits)

PSYC 400: Advanced Topics in Psychology: Study Abroad in Germany and Poland (3 credits)