Sights and Sciences of Eastern Europe
Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, and Poland
Interdisciplinary Sciences 104: Science Connections, 3 credits
A limited number of scholarships will be available on a competitive basis to matriculated CCSU students with a GPA of at least 2.50 who are registered for at least one of the academic courses associated with this program.
Scientists of Eastern and Central Europe made a significant contribution to the scientific and technological progress--from the Enlightenment, throughout Industrial Revolution, and to the present day. In this course, students will learn about the scientists from Eastern and Central Europe, their contributions and inventions, and visit the places where they were born, studied, worked, and taught. Along the way, students will see many European cities steeped in history and tradition that served not only as a backdrop, but also as an inspiration for the work of these scientists.
Many of the countries included in the itinerary have been under Communist rule for the second half of the 20th century, but today they are widely accessible to visitors. Although being a part of the Eastern Bloc may have left a visible mark on the architecture of their capitals, most of the historic buildings, castles, churches, and other sights have been preserved remarkably well.
Serbia is home to the inventor Nikola Tesla, who is equally famous for his futuristic designs related to electricity, as well as major contributions to the modern alternating current electrical systems. The largest and the most definitive Tesla museum is located in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Bounded by the rivers Sava and Danube, Belgrade has plenty of historic sights that include Kalemegdan Fortress dating back to the first century AD, Temple of St. Sava--the largest Orthodox Church in Balkans, as well as many historic cathedrals and towers. As the capital of the former Yugoslavia, Belgrade was at the crossroads of many military conflicts, including both World Wars and the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, a legacy that has been preserved in a number of historic and military museums.
Hungary has a long-standing scientific history. “Berg-Schola,” the world's first institute of technology, was founded in Hungary in 1735. Since then the country produced many notable scientists. Physicists Leo Szilard and Edward Teller were instrumental in exploring various uses of nuclear energy. Szilard conceived the ideas of electronic microscope and the atomic bomb, while Teller is often referred to as the father of the hydrogen bomb. John von Neumann made fundamental contributions to mathematics, physics, and economics. He is also considered as one of the founders of computer science. In many ways, Hungarian capital Budapest is the capital of the entire Eastern Europe. Budapest was built and evolved as the capital of The Kingdom of Hungary that is much larger than the country it currently governs. Rich scientific and engineering tradition of Hungary left its mark on the city’s development. For example, Budapest Metro is the oldest underground rail system on the continent. Budapest is also home to a charming royal palace and a broad range of fine museums. Legacy of many kinds is preserved in Budapest: the House of Terror museum documents fascist and communist past, while Memento Park contains a collection of monumental statues from Hungary's communist period.
Austria produced a large number of scientists, engineers and inventors, including physicist Ludwig Boltzmann who developed statistical mechanics and kinetic theory, mathematician and physicist Christian Doppler who developed the theory behind the Doppler effect, philosopher and physicist Ernst Mach of the Mach number fame, engineer and inventor Gaston Glock who founded the firearms company of the same name, as well as many others. Vienna, the capital of modern-day Austria, was also the capital of Austro-Hungarian Empire that included much of Eastern and Central Europe. Due to its rich musical history, in many ways thanks to Mozart and his legacy, Vienna is often called “the city of music.” Vienna is also “the city of dreams,” because it was home to Sigmund Freud, the world’s first psycho-analyst. Vienna is home of the rich Habsburg heritage, which includes royal palaces, art collections, and a 21-room treasury full of crowns, scepters, orbs, swords, and gem-studded jewelry. Vienna offers many other interesting sights: a superb opera house, excellent museums, and unique coffee houses offering a chance to sample the Viennese Sachertorte.
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is located within 40 miles from Vienna and is often called the Eastern European melting pot. This country carries the legacy of being occupied by the Ottomans, later becoming a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire, and finally being a part of Czechoslovakia, which was peacefully dissolved into Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. Bratislava is one of Europe's up and coming cities, which, in no small degree, is helped by having six universities attended by about 20% of the city’s population. Bratislava is undergoing a major redevelopment and restoration to rid itself of ugly infrastructure left over from the communist regime. Slovakia is home to many inventors, such as Jan Bahyl who designed and flew the first helicopter driven by an internal combustion engine, Stefan Banic who invented the parachute, Jozef Maximilian Petzval who invented zoom lens and is considered the founder of modern photography, to name just a few.
Prague is probably the most charming city in Eastern and Central Europe, if not the entire continent. Bridges over Vltava River, 9th century castle (the biggest in the world), cathedrals, towers and church domes, cobbled lanes and medieval courtyards create a perfect backdrop for Charles University. Founded in 1348, Charles University is one of the oldest universities in Europe in continuous operation. It attracted scientists and students not only from what is now Czech Republic, but also from the entire Europe. Albert Einstein and Ernst Mach were among the faculty, while Nicola Tesla and Christian Doppler studied at Charles University. Soon after it was founded in the 9th century, Prague became the seat of Bohemian kings, some of whom also ruled as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. Imperial court in Prague attracted many notable scientists such as astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe, both of whom made very significant contributions to understanding the laws of planetary motion. Many Czechs left a legacy with a world-wide reach: Gregor Mendel founded the modern study of genetics, writer Karel Čapek was the first to use the word ‘robot,’ while chemist Otto Wichterle invented the process for manufacturing soft contact lenses.
A day trip to the medieval town of Kutna Hora will include a visit to the mining museum dedicated to the history of silver mining in this region of Bohemia dating back to 1260. A unique Alchemy Museum tells about the pursuit of turning led and other metals into gold, which may have not been an unreasonable thing to do once all silver was mined out.
Mikolaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus) who described the heliocentric theory of the world and Maria Sklodowska-Curie who won two Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry for her pioneering research on radioactivity are among the most famous Polish scientists. Despite being torn by wars and not even existing as a country after having its territory partitioned between the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, and Habsburg Austria, Poland has always had a rich tradition in science. Cracow Academy was founded in Krakow in 1364 becoming one of the great universities of Europe. Some of its notable students include Copernicus, Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła), and Polish sci-fi writer Stanisław Lem. Today, Krakow is home to Cracow University of Technology, which the group will visit during this trip. At different times in history, the Polish city of Wroclaw has been a part of the Kingdom of Poland, Bohemia, the Austrian Empire, Prussia, and Germany. After being almost completely destroyed during the World War II, it has been wonderfully restored and can now be counted among the highlights of Poland and of all Central Europe. Wroclaw has been selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2016. The group will also visit Wroclaw University of Technology located in the city. Finally, no trip to Poland would be complete without a visit to Czestochowa and its Jasna Góra Monastery, the home of the Black Madonna painting, which is widely venerated and credited with many miracles.
Registration Information and Program Costs
The cost of the travel program includes round-trip airport transfers in the U.S. and abroad, economy-class international airfare, double- or triple-occupancy accommodations, most meals, and ground transportation and entrance fees to all required site visits. All personal expenses (i.e., medical, souvenirs, laundry, telephone, etc.) are not included. Course tuition is not included in the Course Abroad program fee.
Fulfillment of the University's International Requirement:
All credits earned overseas on a CCSU-sponsored study abroad program, including courses offered in conjunction with Course Abroad programs, automatically receive "I Designation" and count toward fulfillment of the University's General Education International Requirement.
To be announced
July 6 - 26, 2014
Prof. Stan Kurkovsky
Computer Sciences Department