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  • Locations: Berlin, Germany; Paris, France; Strasbourg, France
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Restrictions: Grinnell applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Grinnell Approval Deadlines/Program Dates:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Program by Theme: Peace & Conflict, Human Rights and Social Justice Language of Study: English
Campus Program Advisor: Dan Reynolds, David Harrison Min. GPA: 2.75
Housing: Hostel/Hotel
Program Description:
Contemporary Europe seems to be facing a new wave of intolerance: religious extremism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and outbreaks of violence against people of different beliefs and cultures.  To counter this movement, there are public calls for a renewed commitment to the Enlightenment values of the eighteenth century—values expressed by writers like Voltaire in his Treatise on Tolerance and dramatized by Lessing in his play Nathan the Wise. But what exactly is “tolerance,” as the term was understood in the Enlightenment, and does the original theory still have validity in a Europe that looks much different than it did in the eighteenth century? What, if anything, is intolerable? In this first-year seminar, we will explore these questions from several perspectives.   First, we will look at the history of intolerance in Europe: the religious wars in Renaissance Europe, the long history anti-Semitism that produced horrific violence in the 20th century, the long and troubled relationship between Europe and Islam. We will consider some of the most powerful ideas articulated in favor of tolerance by writers like Bayle, Locke, Voltaire, Kant, and Mendelsohn.  Second, we also look at the issue of tolerance in terms of nation, race, ethnicity, and language as categories that have enabled the state-sanctioned exclusion and marginalization of other people.  What constitutes the nation or the community, and how do such groupings frame exclusion? Finally, we will look at contemporary controversies around tolerance, focusing on France and Germany both locally and in the context of their importance in championing European unity.  At the end of the semester, the seminar will travel to Paris, Berlin, and Vienna to try to understand the contexts in which tolerance and intolerance are encountered today, and to find out how the Enlightenment’s legacy fares in the present. 


Paris - May 23 - June 2
Berlin - June 2 - June 9
Strasbourg - June 9 - June 15

This program is currently not accepting applications.