Urban Places and Spaces: Analyzing and Exploring Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Urban Places and Spaces: Analyzing and Exploring Berlin

  • Host University

    Freie Universität Berlin

  • Location

    Berlin, Germany

  • Area of Study

    Architecture, German Culture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Studies and Planning

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Ideal for students of cultural, political, and social sciences, this seminar seeks to bring to the foreground connections between Berlin's topography, its history, and its current functions as a political and cultural space.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Urban studies and its discourse on the city combine scholarship in fields as diverse as human geography, history, and the arts. Berlin, with its seemingly infinite possibilities for creative societal- and self-fashioning, provides an excellent socio-cultural analytical model. It is at once a fixed “place” with a distinct topography and an interactive “space” comprised of residents and visitors of multifarious social groups.

    A balanced appreciation of the interplay of place and space in Berlin’s cityscape is key for students eager to learn about the city’s past and present. In turn, one requires a sound historical overview of Berlin’s spatial and social makeup in order to comprehend contemporary Berlin fully.

    FUBiS invites you to join us as we analyze and explore places/spaces in Germany’s ultimate “urban text”, Berlin. This seminar seeks to bring to the foreground connections between Berlin's topography, its history, and its current functions as a political and cultural space.

    In-class analysis and discussion of academic and literary texts about Berlin will prepare you for our course excursions. We begin at the Pariser Platz, Berlin’s “living room” and connected to such important sites as the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. Here you will learn more about these landmarks and their meaning in Berlin’s social imaginary, linking temporal layers of past and present in Berlin.

    In the following sessions, we continue our temporal-topographical inquiry, discovering quite diverse sites in Berlin (such as the Alexanderplatz, the Topography of Terror, and the Berlin Wall Memorial). We will conduct on-site discussions of these unique places/spaces in historical, spatial, social, and even literary terms. Upon completing the course, students will have compiled a portfolio of short essays reflecting their critical reception of Berlin’s place/spaces.

    In this manner, our course not only teaches you how places/spaces fuse Berlin’s past and present and shape contemporary Berlin: it also enables you to create a uniquely personal connection to Berlin.

    Learning Objectives:

    After attending this seminar, students will

    • understand the topographical, social, and symbolic organization of place/space in an urban setting and in Berlin in particular;
    • gain insight into the meaning of place/space in their own culture by means of a critical comparison with place/space in their hometown and Berlin;
    • be well familiar with Berlin’s key historical places/spaces and how these continue to shape contemporary Berlin and the social imaginary.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations