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Graz International Summer Institute

Graz International Summer Institute
Study contemporary global affairs at an interdisciplinary institute in Austria.
Seggau Castle, Austria
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
-Open to All Majors
Communication Studies
Strategic Communication
Jewish Studies
Program Type: 
Open to non-KU Students
Faculty Led
  • Expand your understanding of current European and international affairs.
  • Develop academic writing, critical thinking, and public speaking skills. 
  • Network with students and faculty from more than 30 countries.
  • Spend two weeks living in a historic castle in Austria.
Program Summary: 

Constant political uncertainties. Climate change. Demographic transformation. New technologies that redefine the notion of work. The Graz International Summer Institute uses today’s most pressing societal challenges as the basis for interdisciplinary academic contemplation and scholarly discussion of global change. During this two week program, students live and study side-by-side students and faculty from more than 30 countries to gain a deeper understanding of current global affairs while developing personal, academic, and professional skills.

This program is offered in conjunction with the University of Graz and the Graz International Summer School Seggau. The 2020 institute theme, “Stability, Security, and Happiness: State-Society-Religion”, seeks to explore the social, political, cultural, and economic impacts of personal and institutional engagement with current global challenges. Through a combination of lectures, discussion, and small group sessions, students will gain insight into the forces that shape responses to global challenges.

In addition to a rich academic curriculum, this program includes several cultural and social activities including an excursion to the city of Graz, reception at City Hall, sports activities, and international nights. The modern facilities and beautiful grounds of the Seggau Castle create a perfect backdrop for personal reflection, academic inquiry, professional development, and intercultural exchange.


This program takes place at a castle venue in the Austrian state of Styria. The picturesque Styrian region in southeast Austria is known for its rolling hills, vineyards, spas, and stunning castles. Schloss Seggau (Seggau Castle) dates back to Roman times and served as the residence for the first Bishop of Seckau. Until 1786, Schloss Seggau was the seat of the Styrian Bishopric and continued to serve as a summer residence of its Bishops until the mid-20th century. Perched on a hill overlooking the city of Leibnitz, today the castle has been renovated as a modern hotel and conference space that beautifully fuses tradition with modernity.

Academic Information: 

The Graz International Summer Institute is designed for internationally-minded students from any academic discipline who wish to study contemporary global issues, develop an international network of colleagues, and gain skills in critical thinking, academic writing, and public speaking. The program is organized by the University of Graz, Austria’s second largest comprehensive university.

Upon successful completion of the program, 3 credit hours are granted by the University of Kansas. Course credit is assigned based on the afternoon seminar subject selected. Pre-approved KU course equivalencies are indicated below and additional departmental approvals will be forthcoming. The language of instruction is English. 

Successful completion of the course includes participation in all of the following:

Morning Lectures: Daily lectures and discussion that provide context for the afternoon seminars. Delivered by a select group of guest lecturers, the morning sessions will broadly address the institute’s central theme: Stability, Security, and Happiness: State-Society-Religion.

Afternoon Seminars: Specialized, discipline-specific small group modules that allow deeper exploration of the institute’s theme. Choose one of the following afternoon seminars.

  • Unhappy Nations: Histories and Politics [Pre-approved as: HIST 389: Topics in Western History; other departmental approvals may be possible]
  • The Digitalization of Politics: Media and Populism [Approved as: JOUR 409: Special Topics, POLS 669: Topics in Comparative Politics, or SOC 495: Study Abroad Advanced Topics]
  • Economics and Inequalities: GDP and Happiness [Approved as: GIST 550: Issues in Global Studies or SOC 495: Study Abroad Advanced Topics]
  • Narratives of Jewish Migration [Approved as: GIST 350: Study Abroad Topics, JWSH 327: Secular Jewish Culture, or JWSH 300: Topics In___]
  • Ageing Masculinities: In Pursuit of Happiness
  • Philosophy of (Un-)Happiness: Passion and Nostalgia

Seminar Paper: The course culminates in a seminar paper that encourages students to synthesize their experiences and learning during the institute. Details on the requirements for the seminar paper will be provided at a later date.   

Optional Workshops

Students may also participate in optional workshops that offer additional opportunities for professional and academic development. The workshops will focus on the following skill areas: academic writing, public speaking, and creative writing.


All accommodations and program sessions take place at Schloss Seggau, a modern hotel and convention facility in a historic castle. Students will stay in double, triple, or quad rooms and have access to hotel amenities including internet access, a swimming pool, and beautifully landscaped castle grounds. All meals are included in the cost of the program. Special dietary needs can be accommodated.


Open to students of all levels and majors. Minimum 2.75 GPA required (exceptions considered after submission of a petition). This program is designed especially for internationally oriented, highly motivated students.

Program Faculty: 

Cheryl Lester is Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Kansas where she was a Conger-Gabel Teaching Professor and triply appointed in the departments of English, American Studies, and Jewish Studies. Her main research interests and publications are in the field of the American novel, especially William Faulkner, with emphases on modernity, race and ethnicity, migration and immigration, family, and aging. Dr. Lester earned her Ph.D. from SUNY-Buffalo and has taught numerous courses in multiple departments during her tenure at KU.

Philip Barnard is Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas where he was Chancellor's Club Teaching Professor of English. His research interests are in contemporary cultural theory and cultural politics of the Atlantic Revolutionary Age, focusing on the novel and Charles Brockden Brown.


Summer 2022 programs now accepting applications !

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