Germany & Poland - SOC382H5F: Genocide and Memory

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The Course

This research-based course will engage students with the following two questions: Why does genocide happen? How do we construct, present, and maintain our memories of these terrible social phenomena? Students will spend the first part of the course learning about the sociology of genocide. Students will also be exposed to general theories of culture and the social construction of memory, and will be trained in qualitative methods, with a focus on basic field observation and field note writing. Students will take this knowledge and training into the field in Germany and Poland, using a sociological lens to look at museums and memorials, and the people who visit them. The course will culminate in a final project based on the students' observations and analysis during the international experience. 

The Trip

​​Spend 10 days immersing yourself in the history and culture of Germany and Poland superposing the remembrance of the genocide that occurred during the Holocaust with today's society alongside your classmates, Professor Erik Schneiderhan and a UTM staff member. Using a sociological lens you will conduct field research at former concentration camps including Auschwitz, Burkenau, Plaszow, and Sachsenhausen as well as museums including Schindler's Factory Museum, former ghettos, sites of memory, government buildings, and more.

The theories, readings, discussions, and movies you will engage with in the classroom will come to life during your time abroad. You will be exposed to different constructions of memory, the impact of historical events on both perpetrators and victims and how these events are remembered, represented and embedded in a contemporary context. You will experience first-hand the social construction of memory taking the theories you have learned in the classroom into the field. You will challenge yourself to move beyond what you know to experiencing the impact of history today. You will compare and contrast how these terrible social phenomenon are portrayed today in movies such as the Schindler's List with the actual sites, like Schindler's factory and the Krakow ghetto. You will stand in and experience the wide array of emotions that have to be experienced and cannot be described at the largest Nazi concentration camp in Oswiecim. You will question and reflect on how the terrible social phenomenon of genocide is embedded in the beautiful city of Berlin. 

​They say we must learn from our history to avoid repeating it. During this trip you will analyze how this genocide is remembered today and will experience a profound impact on your personal and sociological development. 

Want a student perspective? Read these student blogs from the students who went to Cambodia with this course!

Cambodia Blog Snippet

Cambodia blog snippet 2

Why Participate

  • ­­Put course ideas on genocide and memory to work through field observation in Germany and Poland;
  • ­­Develop qualitative research skills;
  • ­­Learn about current ways of remembering the Holocaust in Germany and Poland;
  • ­­Develop basic understanding of contemporary German and Polish society;
  • ­­Establish connections with fellow students and your professor.


Estimated cost of International Component*: CAD$3300-3600

*The amount posted is currently under review by the University Business Board. Approved amounts will be confirmed in March 2018. 

What is Included: Flights, transportation, accommodation, meals and in-country activities associated with the course. Funding Available!

What is NOT Included: Course fees, fees associated with travel insurance, trip cancellation insurance, additional optional tours/activities while abroad, visa applications, medical exams, vaccinations, and any other additional costs.

Funding: This experience is offered with the generous support of the Office of the Dean, which means;

  • All undergraduate UTM students enrolled in the course will receive $500 towards the international component of the course, should their application be successful.
  • Plus, additional bursaries will be awarded based on demonstrated financial need (not linked to OSAP) as shown in your funding request in your UTM Abroad application.
  • Read more about funding here!

Important Dates

Date Description
Monday, January 22, 2018 Applications Open
Friday, February 16, 2018 Applications Close
Friday, March 16, 2018 Offers Sent
Monday, March 26, 2018 Second Instalment Due
Monday, April 16, 2018 Third Instalment Due
Friday, September 7, 2018 Fourth Instalment Due
September - exact date to be determined Pre-Departure Session
Friday, September 28, 2018 Fifth Instalment Due
September & October - exact dates to be determined Mandatory Safety Abroad Workshop
October - exact date to be determined Second Pre-Departure Session
Thursday, October 4 to Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 

Travel Dates

November - exact date to be determined Post-Trip Session

Need To Know

  • The cost and itinerary are subject to change.
  • Students must be enrolled in SOC382H5F and will be required to abide by the corresponding UTM Abroad application requirements and deadlines to participate in the international experience.
  • Payments can be made over five installments. Fees must be paid in full by the required deadlines.
  • To prepare for the trip, students attending will participate in a mandatory pre-departure and safety abroad session during the month of September.


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