Go Global Office of Global Engagement

Poland - Experiencing Eastern Europe and Witnessing Auschwitz

CENS 304 or SLAV 307 | 3 Credits

Program overview

This course is led by Bozena Karwowska and Dariya Prykhodko, Faculty of Arts 

  • Course dates: March/April - June 2024 
  • Travel dates: May 8 – May 26, 2024 
  • Format: Hybrid* 
    • *While in Vancouver, the course will be offered in hybrid format – in person and online lectures (taught by both the instructor and our international partners). Students will continue the course online and in person in Poland 
  • Locations: Krakow, Oswiecim (possibly Warsaw)  
  • Approximate fee: $2500 - $3000 (Go Global fee, Tuition, flights, and food are not included) 
  • Funding available (click through to learn more about each award) 

Information Session Recording


Passcode: W4Gt=kbk

    Application deadline extended to January 30, 2024

     Application instructions here

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    About the course                                                                                                              

    Located in the heart of Eastern Europe, Galicia (today’s southeastern Poland and western Ukraine), is a region with a rich and distinct cultural history. With its medieval university culture, common war experiences and the region’s unique multiculturalism, Galicia retained a separate entity until the WWII, despite ever-contested geographical divisions (by Austro-Hungary and the Russian Empire). In addition to Polish and Ukrainian majorities, the region was characterized by a large and diverse Jewish presence. Studying cultural and historical experiences that shaped the cultures of Eastern Europe in Kraków and the nearby small city of Oświęcim will provide students with an immediate local experience of the region’s traditions and the pre-war multicultural setting.  

    The camp-complex of Auschwitz was located in close proximity to Kraków, a major city in Galicia, making these locations important study-sites for exploring topics related to both the Holocaust and the importance of Jewish culture before and after WWII.   

    The course will start in Vancouver with an introduction to Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish (along with selected other Eastern European) cultures and history as presented in Slavic literature. Then, while in Poland, students will be immersed in distinctive cultures of the region, embrace an Eastern European way of life, and witness by proxy the impact of the Holocaust on geographical and cultural landscapes of the region.  

    In addition to the literature and culture of Eastern Europe in Kraków, students will study Nazi German camp related topics at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. As a memorial site, with archives and a research center, The Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum offers an unparalleled opportunity to study the Holocaust in a multidisciplinary approach that, in turn, will hone academic skills and knowledge that can be applied back into a variety of disciplines - especially those that focus on other genocides and local stories of violence, drawing connections to territory - all the while helping students take up social responsibilities as researchers.  

    Students can choose to focus on the literature/culture of the region or Holocaust studies.   

    Most important themes: Eastern European literatures and cultures,  multiculturalism, forced migrations, the fall of European empires, the Holocaust, antiSemitism.

    Trigger warning: The course deals with difficult subjects that might be triggering for some students.  

    Program eligibility  
    General Global Seminar requirements

    To participate in a Global Seminar, students must: 

    • Be in good-standing in their faculty (as defined by home faculty)  
    • In the year leading up to the Global Seminar, have full-time student status (as defined by home faculty)    
    • Have completed 2nd year requirements before the start of the program (i.e. 3rd or 4th year standing)  
    • Have at least a 70% academic average in your last full-time academic session before applying    
    • Maintain a 70% academic average leading up to the program  
    • Meet any program specific requirements listed below including pre-requisites before participating 
    Specific requirements
    • This is an interdisciplinary program: All are welcome! 

    Final selection will be done by the lead faculty program directors. Spots in the program may be limited. 

    Students who wish to participate in the summer after graduating may be eligible on a case-by-case basis.

    Experience and conditions in the Field

    Throughout this course, students will attend on site lectures, workshops, guided tours and participate in individual and group activities.     


    Students will be paired up and sharing relatively small dorm-style rooms.

    Program fees and costs
    Approximate fees: $2500-$3000*

    *The final fee depends on the number of students in the seminar. All Global Seminars only run if there is a minimum number of students enrolled.  

    Program fees include:
    • Accommodation  
    • Program- related travel in-country; (e.g. buses)  
    • Excursions and entrance fees  
    • Some group meals  
    • On-site guest lectures
    Not Included:  
    • Go Global Fee 
    • Flights 
    • UBC tuition for credits   
    • Visa/country entrance fees   
    • Health or travel insurance  
    • Most meals 
    • Personal spending money*   

    * Some examples of personal costs included: mobile communication, personal transportation that is not related to the learning outcomes of the program, additional meals that are not already identified as part of the Program Fee, immunizations, Visas, etc.  

    Arts Research Abroad (ARA) Funding 

    This seminar is designated as an Arts Research Abroad (ARA) course. ARA courses will provide an award which will cover up to 50% of program costs and flights for eligible students. In cases of demonstrated financial need (determined by Enrolment Services), ARA may fund up to 100% of the program costs and flights. 

    All eligible Arts students selected for this program will be automatically considered for the award. No application is required. To see more details about eligibility requirements, please visit Go Global Awards

    If selected to receive ARA, the program fee listed above will be reduced by 50% or 100%, depending on the funding you receive.  

    For example: 

    Students selected for ARA 50% will have program fee reduced from $2500-$3000 to $1250-$1500. In addition, 50% of your flight will be covered (assessed based on the value of a roundtrip flight from YVR to destination during time of travel). Typically, students will need to pay for the flight first and be reimbursed through an award early in the summer term. 

    Please note that not all Arts courses have ARA designation.