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Ethnic Identity, Conflict, and the Holocaust


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. All students take a 1-credit prep course in Spring 2015.

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 Ghettoes in Warsaw, 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.

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Location Description

Munich is in the heart of Bavaria, a wonderful place for an introduction to traditional German culture and identity. Our city tour will include Marienplatz and the famous Frauenkirche and its two towers, and scientific exhibits at Deutsches Museum. From Munich, we will take day-trips to the notorious Dachau concentration camp to learn about the Holocaust, and Füssen to see the historical King Ludwig's massive "fairytale" castle Schloss Neuschwanstein. We move to Berlin next to understand more about how WWII 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, and the artsy Kreuzberg neighborhood. Along the way we will learn about German ethnic identities, including Bavarian and Swabian, and new immigrant ethnic populations such as the Turkish-German minority.

From here we train to Warsaw where we will learn about the German occupation and Soviet Communist influence on present-day psychology. Visits will include the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the brand new Jewish Culture and History Museum, a Communist-era milk bar, and the former city ghetto for Jewish residents. Our last days will be in the heart of Poland, the former capital city of Kraków. Here we will see the beautiful city square Rynek Głowny, 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 (Oświęcim) concentration camp and the UNESCO heritage-named Wieliczka salt mine. We will explore traditional Polish ethnic identity, the Silesian ethnicity, and Jewish culture and identity.


Matthew Lee | | Psychology


Students will be in shared double or triple rooms or suites. Housing accommodations are centrally located and public transportation is easily accessible. Hotels will be 3-star (or above) and will have lifts and wifi. All rooms will have ensuite bathrooms/toilets, and some will have an ensuite kitchenette.

Students will be allocated a weekly meal stipend that will cover approximately 7 meals for the week.

Regular group meals in local restaurants sampling ethnic German and Polish cuisine will be paid for by the program.

Additional Items to Consider

Open to ALL majors.

No visa required for US passport holders

No language ability in Germany or Polish required.

Scholarship Announcement

  • JMU Study Abroad in Germany and Poland 2015

The purpose of this summer Social Justice Scholarship is to award up to two (2) students funding to help offset the costs of participation in the course, particularly for students demonstrating financial need and a commitment to service and social justice.  These materials must be submitted to Dr Lee ( by email by 12pm, February 23, 2015. See apply now button for further scholarhsip details. 

Students must apply and be accepted to the program (Summer 2015) -AND- complete the scholarship application by 12pm on February 23, 2015.

Apply for a Scholarship

This APPLY now! button is just to apply for the scholarshp. Be sure you apply to both.


Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.7

Prerequisite: At least one course in psychology

PSYC majors seeking to take this class at the 400-level must have completed (or be completing) at least two 300-level courses in PSYC.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now 

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)

PSYC 290: Prep Course for Study Abroad in Germany and Poland (1 credit) *spring 2015 course

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.