Germany, Berlin

Resilience and Transformation in Berlin

when 4 June 2016 - 16 July 2016
duration 6 weeks
credits 6 ECTS
fee EUR 1350

How can environmental contexts influence how some people survive through atrocities, even coming back from crises stronger than ever? Resilience is the ability to recover from or adjust to change. This ability comes from resources available in the environment as well as individual characteristics. This course will examine personal and contextual influences that contribute to resilience, with particular emphasis on historical and contemporary contexts of Berlin. Students will use ecological theory[1] as a framework for studying how past and present events have influenced individual resilience and transformation in famous residents and/or community level movements (i.e., sustainable living, urban gardening) in Berlin.

Due to historical and ongoing structures and events, Berlin is an especially interesting venue to examine intersections among place, time, and resilience. The Nazi regime, the Berlin Wall, and the "Staatssicherheit" of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), contributed to a great deal of volatility in Berlin’s recent history. We will explore how living through these events might contribute to resilience. We will also consider examples of artists such as David Bowie who returned to a life without drugs when he moved to Berlin in the 1970s. Developmental theorists would interpret Bowie’s extraordinary productivity in Berlin to be partially a function of his interactions with the environmental context of Berlin in that time.

[1] In concert with theories of personality and resilience used in many social science disciplines such as Human Development, Family Studies, Community Development, Psychology, and Education.

Course leader

Dr. Loriana Yancura

Target group

This course is open to all students. No previous experience with human, social or educational sciences, etc. is necessary.

Course aim

Through readings, coursework, assignments, site visits, and a personal project, you will learn to apply theories discussed in class to specific examples of resilience and transformation. The pedagogical focus of this course will be on oral communication. Upon completion of this course, students will have:

Described and analyzed theories used to understand the influences that social, physical and cultural environments have on individual and community level resilience
Created a personalized project to investigate how theories of resilience, personality change, and ecological factors apply to a figure who live(d) and or work(ed) in Berlin.
Applied aspects of the theories you have learned about to five specific sites in Berlin.
Demonstrated progress in your oral presentation skills and evaluated the oral presentation skills of your peers.

Credits info


Attendance and Active Participation: 20%
Reading Summaries: 15%
Site Reflection Journal: 15%
Berlin Vignettes Activities 10%
Course Project (incl. elevator speech and oral outlines): 40%

Fee info

EUR 1350: Tuition
EUR 250: Program fee