VIU expands study abroad program with field school to Poland

November 18, 2011 - 6:12am

Vancouver Island University’s study abroad program offers an exciting opportunity to students or community members interested in Polish culture. A new interdisciplinary field school to Wroclaw, Poland will be led by English and Art History professors from May 7 to 28, 2012.

“The field school will provide students or community participants with a wonderful opportunity to learn through hands-on study how literature, art, history, and politics shape identity,” said English professor Terri Doughty. “It’s also a chance for participants to experience European life and culture in one of central Europe's most interesting border zones.”

Doughty and Dr. Justin McGrail (Art History) will host two information sessions for potential participants at the Nanaimo campus onTues. Nov. 29, 6:30-7:30 pm, Building 325, Room 211, and Wed., Nov. 30, 12:30-1:30 pm, in Building 325, Room 204. The field school can be taken for course credit or audited.

According to Doughty, globalization works to erase borders; however, for a country like Poland, borders and transgressions of borders have defined its identity.

“The primary focus of this field school is on the study of cultural contact zones: what happens when borders shift, when cultures collide?” she said. “Is there a productive opportunity for collaboration and cooperation? Are cultural values maintained or are they at risk? How are such encounters recorded in literature, history, architecture, and visual and performing arts? What are the impacts of these records?”

Doughty said Wroclaw presents an excellent case study. Over centuries, it and surrounding territory have been subject to various rule: Bohemian, Habsburg, Prussian/German, and Polish. Its history in the twentieth century was particularly turbulent, its population decimated and transformed by war and forced migrations.

“Today, the city is reinventing itself as a meeting place. We will study its cultural record,” she added.

As well as day trips to Auschwitz and Krakow, the field school includes guided tours of the Wroclaw and of secondary sites, the City Museum of Wroclaw, Ethnographic Museum, National Museum, Ostrów Tumski, art galleries, Raclawice Panorama, Hala Ludowa, and the Jewish Cemetery to name a few.

Guest lectures will be offered by faculty from the University of Wroclaw, and field school participants will meet students from the University of Wroclaw as well.

For more information about the field school, visit

Tags: In the Community

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