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The Catalyst Program 2016

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Quick Details: Dates and Price

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No city in Europe has been recreated as many times as London.  Take a wak over the Thames and then wander like a local through so many connected greenways and parks, and you will have your own very clear eyes open to how this place can and does live multiple urban lives at the same time.  Where were bears baited in the time of Shakespeare? Where did The Clash rehearse? Where does Roman Londinium exist just steps away from a Baroque masterpiece? All of those Londons will become yours, as you fan out on The Catalyst to put the contours of this great city forever into your understanding of the modern world.


This city was the fulcrum of the Cold War, and its street art and edgy cultural energy are reminders of how central Berlin has been to the history of the world in the last five decades.  Deeper digging finds the layers of history and culture that are still the place’s bedrock, too, from the first half of the 20th century, when Berliners were part of the political energy that launched two world wars. On a single street here, you can look and find a building that the Nazis built to last a 1000 years, while snaking just around the corner are remaining segments of the Berlin Wall. Prepare to be amazed!

(Also be ready for some of the nightlife energy of Berlin to shock you, because this city is where even the Spanish come to let loose after dark. Nobody’s night in Europe is ever bigger than what native or transplanted Berliners live on the weekends.)

Our four classroom cities won't just change your summer

The Catalyst is a new-school study-abroad program that uses Europe as a moving classroom. London is the start of your learning, with Paris, Berlin and Prague as the classroom cities you'll move to over the course of 5 weeks. After week two of the program, you'll activate your own wanderlust and venture forth to experience a week of independent travel we call “Acceleration.” When you've conquered Europe, the program reconvenes in Berlin. After Berlin, you'll travel together with your fellow students to your final classroom city, Prague, to spend a last week living and learning in Europe. Your stay in each classroom cities is for a week, and you'll have at least one full day in each city for our "city sojourn" experience, which is all about you finding your own way and doing what you most want to do in each city.


The pull of Paris is something nobody has ever been able to measure, and yet explanations for its incredible hold on our romantic imaginations are born anew with every generation. The suvivors of World War One came here and stayed, forming the nucleus of what Gertrude Stein called “the lost generation.” Since the 1920s, almost everyone else has found a reason to come here, too and love the place. Is it the unmatched regality of the buildings and the fantastically wide and lovely streets? Or is is the Seine, snaking through the city like some vital artery that produces art, beauty and life? Your Catalyst course will meet almost every day you’re here, seeing to it that you’ll come to know Paris so well that you’ll love it for a lifetime.


No city is more suggestive of the “new” Europe than historic Prague. And no city has featured more centuries of hope, struggle, beauty and frustration. Our classrooms will be everwhere in this jewel of a city, from the historic clock tower in the center of Prague to the tortured village of martyrdrom just a few miles outside of the city, Lidice.

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Finding real passion for your learning can be tricky in any given semester, because you have so many different classes to take and so many responsibilities outside of school. Enter The Catalyst. With us, you will be taking two courses that relate to our classroom cities in vitally important and exciting ways. (Meanwhile, you and your fellow students will be freed from work commitments and all of the other distractions of a typical semester.) The dynamism of our program's academics is its beauty. In each of our cities, our faculty will give you the wide-angle view of the European classroom you meet each day, from the Renaissance to the Holocaust. While your two Elective Courses will be your summer's telephoto lenses, bringing your classroom cities and your material into a special focus that only specific disciplines can help you to attain. You will take one of these three-credit courses in London/Paris and the other of them in Berlin/Prague. Students who come on The Catalyst receive credits approved and administered by the University of West Florida. If you're not a student at UWF, no worries. Our credits transfer to any university or college in the USA, but you should still be sure to discuss the program with your academic advisor(s).

First Session Elective Courses meet in London and Paris

Choose your first-session Catalyst elective course so that the disciplinary and intellectual direction you take feeds your passion and advances the goals you’ve set for your Catalyst journey. All courses are three credit hours and are taught in London and Paris, during the first two weeks of The Catalyst. You must take one of these courses but may not take more than one.


--ENGLISH: BawdyWORKS: Shakespeare and Rabelais and the Literature of Fleshly Desire in Renaissance Europe focuses on how Shakespeare and Rabelais construct desired and desiring bodies in their imaginative works. We will view their writings through the radical theoretical lens of Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of the carnivalesque. While we will use Bakhtin’s theories as a starting point, the goal of the course will be to test and revise those theories as we visit the physical places in which Shakespeare and Rabelais “made” the early modern body. Along our journey through London and Paris, we will explore the themes of eating, drinking and subverting as we seek to answer a few key questions about how Europeans lived and relished in their stunning and at times controversial literary arts during the Renaissance. Click here to review a draft of our 2016 Syllabus for BawdyWORKS.


--ART: Shutter/SPEED: Art Photography in Europe will reveal that there may be better cities one can go to learn to love art photography in than ours, but London and Paris raise pretty strong arguments on their own behalf.  So will you, when you've taken a week of living and learning in each of these amazing cities, all the while you immerse yourself in the techniques of art photography. Your own facility as an art photographer will improve daily, as our classes use museums, galleries, streets, parks and outsider art/street art to improve how you and where you see and capture beauty. Click here to review a draft of our 2016 Syllabus for ShutterSPEED.


--HISTORY: Throne Games: The History of Statecraft as a Blodspoort from the Tower of London to the Guillotine will show that massacres, beheadings and murders of future saints? Except for the dragons, the Game of Thrones has few plot twists that can rival the real life drama in the histories of the kings of England and France. This course will explore some of the most dramatic moments in the history of both realms—including the execution of the future saint Thomas More, the drama surrounding Henry VIII’s many wives, the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre during royal wedding celebrations in Paris, the courtly intrigue of Louis XIV’s Versailles, and the beheading of Charles I of England and Louis XVI of France. Through these events, we will explore London and Paris as our living classrooms, while we examine the brutal realities of power politics at the highest level in pre-modern Europe. Click here to review a draft of our 2016 Syllabus for ThroneGames.


--PSYCHOLOGY: Madness! Psychopathology in European History and Today examines how Madness has been conceptualized in many ways over the centuries. From the iconic statues of “Raving and Melancholy Madness” that stood outside of Bedlam in the 17th century; to the fits and poses of the “hysterics” in Charcot’s La Salpetriere; to the mute soldiers of the Great War suffering from “shell shock”; to modern day notions of “mental illness”. This class travels to these historic institutions and takes a close-up look at the connections between trauma and the development of human problems over the centuries. And what does social psychology teach us regarding the development of historic political movements like the French Revolution and the rise and fall of Nazism? This course will use social psychological concepts to analyze these movements, the coming to power of individuals like Napoleon, Robespierre, DeGaulle, Churchill, & Hitler, and the various methods and workings of propaganda. An analysis that informs not only the past, but current political movements and world leaders as well, Madness--as we explore trauma, propaganda, and leadership, will definitely not be your typical psychology class. But then, London and Paris are far indeed from you normal classrooms! Click here to review a draft of our 2016 Syllabus for Madness.



Your 6 hours with us will change your life  

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Our learning is high impact and active, always. (We don't like traditional classrooms) Second Session Elective Courses: Berlin and Prague

 Choose your second-session Catalyst elective course so that the disciplinary and intellectual direction you take feeds your passion and advances the goals you’ve set for your Catalyst journey. All courses are three credit hours and are taught in Berlin and Prague, during the last two weeks of The Catalyst. You must take one of these courses but may not take more than one.


--INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS--Business Management and Human Resources in the Eurozone Today. Ever wonder how people end up getting those plumb jobs in Europe?  Or maybe what it's like to work over there? You should, because in our globalized world of today the best way to end up leading as a business professional at home may be to get a great job abroad first.  This course will delve deeply into how European states, corporations, and multi-nationals go about the always delicate challenge of managing their most dynamic and vital business resource: people. Our class will take Berlin and Prague as unforgettable sites to learn, as we set out to meet Europe's business management protocols head on and in real time. From the work being done by America's Chambers of Commerce in our key cities to the battle being fought everyday by European headhunters to attract the best business talent in the world to Eurozone, we will assess what's right and what's different about how human resources issues are managed among an EU population that now numbers more than 506 million souls. Perfect for any business major who seeks to understand in "real world" terms what globalization looks like from a European perspective, this is also an ideal course for Psychology students who want to study salient elements of human resources theory and practice in a European context.  We will make daily use of myriad corporate and public settings as our course fans out all over two of the jewel cities of the "new" Europe.


--ART: MultipleEXPOSURES: Documentary Photography in Theory and Practice. Camera optics were originally not fast enough to keep up with the human smile. By the time that changed, the pace of modern life had increased to a frenzied degree that nobody could have imagined when photography began. If you love art, museums, cameras and photography, ARTwork should be at the heart of your Catalyst journey. As you traverse The Catalyst cities, you will make galleries, museums, urban ruins, monuments and the hidden vestiges of Europe’s complicated past your unforgettable classrooms, while you take time to delve deeply into the techniques of art photography and prepare a professional-grade portfolio from the images you shoot. Click here to review a draft of our 2016 Syllabus for Multiple Exposures.


--ENGLISH--Being and Nothingness: Mann, Camus, Fallada, Koestler, Kafka and the Contours of 20th Century European Literature. Fascism. Communism. Totalitarianism. Nationalism. Existentialism. Cubism. Dadaism. Surrealism. To the student of culture in the 20th century, it would seem that the century was driven by belief systems and movements that controlled art and politics. The individual caught in the force and current of these movements often had few options for survival; the currents of destruction and terror and isolation seemed overwhelming. This course examines these historical forces, but more importantly, it looks at the human response to these historical forces: the attempt on the part of the individual to maintain some semblance of routine and normality, the attempt on the part of the individual to maintain some sense of self and individuality, the attempt on the part of the individual to maintain some sense of meaning and purpose. Click here to review a draft of our 2016 Syllabus for Being and Nothingness.



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Dates and Pricing 2017

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Acceleration Travel: your time to independently explore Europe

Everybody knows what it's like to ride shotgun. The feeling of being the driver is always different. Because that's what it feels like to be in charge. Acceleration is your time when The Catalyst asks you to be the driver, together with the other students with whom you decide to travel. Set your plans up, make your arrangements, and climb on the great trains and cheap planes of Europe and make this continent your own over a week of travel, as you make your way gently from Paris to Berlin. Housing and meals are your own responsiblity during Acceleration.


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