Six Credits

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 Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. If you’re not a student at APSU, no worries. Our credits transfer to any university or college in the USA, but you should still print up the syllabi below for the classes you want to take with us and discuss these with your academic advisor(s).

  1. First Session Electives

    First Session Elective Courses: 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.

    • HISTORY: When We Were Very Young: Generation War and Remembrance in Europe, 1914-1944 (INS3000)


      Still We Hear the Guns

      We are living ten decades since the end of World War One and nearly 75 years after World War Two. And yet these conflicts still carry immediate claims over us today. How and why this is so will be at the heart of our class’ learning journey each day this summer.  As we use the historic core of London and Paris as our classroom, exploring a mosaic of secret gardens, hidden memorials, battered stone walls and hushed courtyards. To know what it felt like when a generation of young soldiers marched to war in the throes of a passion that was called “the spirit of 1914.” And what it was like for their families at home, when so many veterans came back unable to live lives that struck anyone as “normal.” Finally, we’ll explore the tragic confluence of irony and history that made the battered generation of World War One go on to become the parents whose own children would board the trains and ships and aircraft in 1939 and 1940. To start it all back up again, and on a scale this time that –God willing–the rest of humanity won’t see surpassed after the end of Generation War.

      Still We See the Signs

      Our course will fan out each day through the narrow alleys and lost spaces of two cities where war held vast dominion from 1914 through 1940. Some days, our work will feel familiar to history majors, because we’ll teach about the causes of war at the British Library or in the shadows of the Louvre. Other days, you’ll be asked to think like students of Psychology. Because our attention to what Sigmund Freud developed as his modified view of the human psyche will focus first on World War One and then on World War Two, as we teach you at the home he made in London after he was forced to flee the Nazis. While another day’s focus on Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and J.R. Tolkein will feel like the best literature class of a lifetime. What will tie all of this together will be our use of active learning sites to make our material come alive, from the Imperial War Museum to the Bethnel Green Tube Stop to the Shoah Memorial and Paris’ Museum of the Resistance and Liberation.

      Our Teachers: The Heroes of Generation War

      If you’ll learn many things from the literary, scientific and political members of Generation War, you’ll likely remember more about the several expert “guests” whose lives will be central to how, where and what you learn in our course. These experts won’t have names you’ll have heard of, and yet the stories of their lives will feel eternal when you come to know them as your learning journey in this class sweeps you across London, Paris and all over the hallowed battlefields of northern France. 


    • COMMUNICATIONS: The Castle of My Skin: Identity Politics and Media Culture in London and Paris (COM444)

      In London and Paris today, it’s impossible to walk even a block without hearing a dozen languages spoken. It’s equally difficult to wander through most neighborhoods without smelling the ethnic spices, simmering curries, and savory pho that have stretched to new limits what can be called “British” or “French” food. But if these and other realities of globalization are embraced well enough in London and Paris, it’s equally clear that virulent flavors of nationalism and bigotry loom menacingly over the UK and Europe.

      That’s why Brexit gained the ground it did in 2016, and it’s why voters today in many sectors of the UK are prepared to blame immigrants and refugees for what seems to be ailing the country. It’s also why the French government has had such a difficult time finding anyone willing to name the hateful villagers who have recently desecrated so many Jewish cemeteries in provincial France.

      To understand the scope of identity politics, our course will explore hallowed shrines to faith–like Southwark Cathedral in London and St. Eustache Cathedral in Paris–as we interrogate, too, the pilfered bounty of Empire that comprises the collections of the British Museum and the Louvre.  Some days we’ll walk the verdant gardens of our classroom cities–marveling at how Kensington Gardens and the Jardin Luxenbourg seem to do with green space what ideas about civilization utterly failed to do most anywhere else–while other days we’ll venture into the great consumer meccas of our cities. And wander among their elaborate power displays of food, clothes and jewelry.

      Hence High-Tea in London might be a classroom experience worth our time. Or watching part of a cricket match in an iconic Westminster pub. Or having Moroccan tea in the heart of the Latin Quarter, within the secret garden of the imposing Mosque of Paris. But the darker histories of bigotry and violence that have been part and parcel of British and French identity will be explored, too. Where and why did the IRA wreak terrorist havoc in London during the long era of the Irish “troubles” and what about Jihad in the city today? Similarly what was the French reaction to the Nazi occupation and World War II where the city’s Jews were concerned? And what of the 2015 Jihadist attacks in Paris?

      Our course will be an analysis of urban geography and its attendant layers of culture, myth, power and media.




    • ART HISTORY: The Power and the Glory: Art and Beauty in London and Paris (ART324X)

      The title of our course comes from the 18th-century writer Goethe, who left Germany as a young man in a stage coach in the middle of one night, crossing the Alps to see Italy for the first time. He came home home two years later. You’ll have only two weeks in our course, but our goals will be similar to the ones that sent Goethe on his journey to Italy.

      You’ll see the greatest architecture every day, as we explore public gardens and incomparable cathedrals and monuments first in London and then Paris. While you stand face to face with the most consequential paintings and sculptures in the cannon of European art. As you interrogate, too, the scope of the world that Europe conquered, looted and then lost.  From great museums to lesser collections and buzzy galleries, the beauty that is London and Paris will be your classroom each day.

      You’ll also spend time exploring the place of public and outsider art in London and Paris. From Banksy’s latest in a Shoreditch alley to the vibrant taggers who come out in Paris every night to spray the gray away, you’ll find and explore how street art has become its own major force in the urban beauty of today.

      Whether you’re an art majors or just a student who knows that an appreciation for art belongs in their cultural toolkit, this course will gently but forever expand how you see and value beauty in your life and world.


    • PSYCHOLOGY–Mindfulness: Theories and Practices of Positive Psychology in Europe Today (PSY4610)

      Our world today is addled in so many ways by tensions and stress points that living in a mindful manner can seem impossible. With technology and communication devices overtaking almost everything we do, it’s easier to talk about “being unplugged” than it is to actually turn off media and “go inward.” This class will take away the excuses you’ve been finding to avoid yourself and your own company and comfort. As it teaches you a serious and affirming practice that’ll continue long after you’ve been to Europe and come home: how to be yourself in an authentic and essentially present way.

      Yoga in Hyde Park

      Vast bodies of research have shown that the negative stories we tell ourselves are contrary to our own wellness. Similarly, it’s well documented that higher expressions of personal and collective wellness can correlate with the mindful practice of everyday life. This course explores how positive psychology is understood and developed in the UK and France by various governmental and institutional entities today. As it also takes you into the amazing green spaces of London and Paris where your yoga mat and you will practice mindfulness with bells on! Our students attest to the fact that starting their Euro days with yoga and a teaching walk through our cities is among the greatest learning experiences of their time away!

      Meditation and Art

      Art therapy isn’t a new idea. But our students report that the time this class takes using architecture and art to help our students lock into the present and feel connected to their creative and hopeful sides of self is a critical kind of learning. So we take time in each city to find ourselves learning in historic cathedrals and storied gardens. Just as we take time to make the art collections of our cities become our own treasure troves of mindful learning. The formal practice of meditation isn’t something all of our students have done before our course. But after time in our great museums and cloisters, meditation comes to most of our students as a welcome and energizing approach to feeling better about life overall.

      Silence, Reflection, Gratitude

      One of the goals many of our students bring to Europe is  desire to engage less often with their phones and other devices. We make progress on this goal most every day, but our highlight in this regard is something we save until the middle of our Paris week. When our class goes together into the great love and silence of a Buddhist monastic world, where many of the monks have taken vows of near total silence.

      Each year we have alumni tell us that their own experience with us in Europe has given them new coping skills where their own issues around anxiety and depression are concerned. We have an equal number of students report a sense of more positivity and mindful affect in their lives. While our students also learn how the UK and France have health systems at least partly predicated on a collective engagement with mindfulness and wellness.

    • PSYCHOLOGY–Madness: Psychopathology in European History and Today (PSY4620)

      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. Then on 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. The course also explores what social psychology teaches us regarding the development of historic political movements like the French Revolution? This course will use social psychological concepts to analyze these movements, the coming to power of individuals like Napoleon, and Robespierre and the various methods and workings of propaganda during the eras of the two world wars. An analysis that informs not only the past, but current political movements and world leaders as well, Hysteria–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, and neither are the D-Day landing beaches, where we’ll study first-hand the battlefield context for what would be called “battle fatigue” in the era of World War Two.


  2. Second Session Electives

    Second Session Elective Courses: Berlin and Prague

    Choose your second-session Catalyst elective course to complement what you studied in London and Paris. All of our second session courses are three credit hours and are taught in Berlin and Prague, during the second two weeks of The Catalyst. You must take one of these courses but may not take more than one.

    • HISTORY–In the Garden of Beasts: Nazism and the Holocaust (HIS4910)


      Few classrooms can compare to Berlin and Prague when it comes to studying Nazism and the Holocaust. Berlin was the epicenter of the New Order that Hitler built, and the vestiges of the 1933-1945 era remain very present here.  From the museum that stands today where Gestapo Headquarters was in the Nazi era to the roll-call field at Terezen Concentration Camp, our class will walk the terrible trail that was the path of the Nazis and their war against the Jews and others whom the regime deemed “undesirable.” Our course will explore how the Nazis came to power and how their history can be connected to the long “sonderweg” of the German people from the 18th century to the 20th.


      Our class will learn much about the Nazi state by the enemies and evils its architects identified. To understand that horrible need to identify as “other” and “inferior,” our course will enter into spaces that nobody going to Berlin can find alone. Like the upstairs of the iconic Rot Rathaus, where so much of the political war between Weimar Germany and the rising Nazis took place.  And in the long-forgotten interior of the Hummingbird Cabaret–where transvestite entertainment was all the rage in the era that Nazis called “degenerate”–we’ll find an amazing and forgotten space that seems to reverberate with the ghosts of those who millions murdered under the banner of the swastika.


      From Berlin, we will go as the Nazis did and follow their swath of occupation and murder East to the jewel of former Czechoslovakia: Prague. It is the city where Hitler and Himmler installed their most trusted and brutal soldier, General Reinhard Heydrich, to govern the conquered city and the “protectorate” of which it was the centerpiece. Prague is also where the covert mission “Anthropoid” crystallized in 1942 with the assassination of Heydrich. We will study how the Nazi occupation worked as we also explore how resistance movements grew up in Prague and elsewhere. We’ll take as our classroom such hallowed places as the Cathedral of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, Prague Castle itself and the museum of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp and Ghetto.

    • PSYCHOLOGY: Sexuality and Gender (PSY430)

      The pink triangle was born in Nazi Germany as a means of identifying gay people to discriminate against, round up, and eventually murder in the 1940s. Yet as this class will show, the sometimes brutal cultural and the medical and state politics of sexual orientation and gender identities were not born with Hitler. Before and after the Nazis, sex and gender roles have been hotly contested aspects of social life in Europe and beyond, and remain so to this day.

    • ART/scope: Museum, Street and Public Art in History and Today (ART410X)

      Is there a more head-spinning way to experience the scope of art in society than by chasing beauty for half a month throughout Berlin and Prague? When you’ve cut back and forth all over these great cities with us, you’ll sure to agree that no learning has ever been more eye-popping than this.


      Museums as Classrooms

      Lovers of art will tell anyone to get a new bucket list if their life plans don’t include serious learning in the museums we use for our class. Nothing in the world compares to Berlin’s amazing Museum Island and all the grandeur that its unparalleled range of museums holds. Our formal time in these astonishing museums will ask you to push your own perspective as an art lover into totally new realms.

      Street Art

      If you’ll love learning about art and the creative process as you stand face-to-face with masterpieces from the past, you’ll relish searching all over Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood for the latest world-class talent in street art. You’ll follow the famous Czech taggers who argue with obvious power that their outsider art is more important today than anything featured in posh galleries. And in your free time, go ahead and stake out the banks of the Vltava in the evening when the young graffiti artists head to the Lenin Wall to lay their spray paint claims to greatness.

      Art as Survival: The Holocaust

      Finally, you’ll experience how we teach art and its creative processes as a dynamic and gut-punching energy that has always stood at the heart of what civilizations depend on for social identity. We use architectural monuments and public art all over Berlin and Prague to tease out this argument. Then you’ll take a look at the role art has always played in making physical and creative statements that have reached for the embrace of eternity. You’ll feel this eternal touch inside of and around the Berliner Dom and the Vilnius Cathedral. And you’ll experience it when we have our high-impact field exercise at the Terezen Concentration Camp, where the art of children flourished amidst the horrors of life in a transit camp whose residents were all bound for the gas chambers of Auschwitz.


      The Requirement: From Art Theory to Art Practice

      Welcoming art majors and non-majors alike, our class will expose you to new ways of seeing as you also explore how so many generations before you have defined and fulfilled the expanding scope of art. Get ready to explore your own artistic scope as you work individually and with your fellow students on what our course calls “The Requirement.” This unique element of our class will become the art that you choose to create in reaction to where and how you learn with us.


Professors are selected to join The Catalyst because of their expertise in our teaching fields and because of their vast experience in global research and education. That Catalyst routinely draws top professors from 5-6 different academic institutions in the USA. If you’d like to learn more about how you can join our faculty in a future summer, contact Dr. Doug Mackaman, Director of The Catalyst.

Dr. Douglas P. Mackaman is Director of The Catalyst. Previously,  Dr. Mackaman was tenured full professor of French History and Global Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi, where he served as Director of The British Studies Program and was also founding Director of both The Abbey and The Compass Programs. Dr. Mackaman has written widely in the cultural history of Europe from the 18th century onward and has been teaching US students abroad since 1996. Dr. Mackaman consults widely in global program development. Dr. Mackaman is well known by generations of students as being a professor who can mostly out-walk anybody when the goal at hand is learning a European city.

Dr. Richard Seefeldt is Professor of Psychology at The University of Wisconsin River-Falls, where he is a counseling psychologist who teaches courses in General, Abnormal, Personality, and Clinical Psychology. His research interests have focused on addictive behaviors, social cognitive aspects of evaluation and relationships, and the history of madness. Dr. Seefeldt has taught study-abroad students all over Europe for more than a decade. His knowledge of our Catalyst cities is without peer, as his familiarity with the old rehearsal spaces and first live venues of the greatest punk bands in history.

Dr. Andrew Woolley is Professor of English at Southwestern Adventist University, where he also is Director of Honors. Dr. Woolley has been teaching US students abroad regularly since the early 1990s, with London, Athens, Rome, Venice and Paris as his more recent abroad “classrooms” of choice.  A class with Dr. Woolley is a life lesson in every sense, and no student who has learned from him abroad will ever forget his gentle genius and incomparable wit.

Dr. Travis Tubre is Professor and Chair of Psychology at The University of Wisconsin-River Falls and Senior Lecturer at the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. Dr. Tubré has taught US students abroad in England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scotland. His students wax fondly about his infectious enthusiasm and the unending passion he has for our teaching cities in Europe.

Dr. Darren Bernal is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina Asheville. He teaches counseling, group psychology, multicultural psychology, community psychology, abnormal psychology, and cultural psychology. Bernal’s research focuses on socioeconomic status, social connectedness, mindfulness and well-being. If you take his Catalyst course, you’ll walk the great parks and cityscapes of both London and Paris. As you explore what the built environments, museums and green spaces of these places do every day to encourage a mindful and positive encounter with social life. And will you adopt the practice of yoga? Will you take to meditation? Dr. Bernal is well known for bringing students into touch with a holistic way of living. His students adore these gifts.