Colorado State University Summer Program at UNYP

A partnership between Colorado State University (CSU) and UNYP, inspired by Professor Tara O’Connor Shelley’s teaching and research activities in the Czech Republic is enhancing the experiences of students from both universities.

Professor Shelley visited Prague for the first time in 2001 as a study abroad student as part of her PhD studies and established a similar program when she became a professor at Colorado State University with colleague Dr. Michael Hogan. CSU initiated their program in 2008 and began a partnership with UNYP in 2014 as they appreciated UNYP’s offering of both European and American degrees in English.  In addition, UNYP provides a learning environment that allows participants 'to meet other students from all around the world’, enhancing the study abroad experience.

CSU's Summer Program at UNYP consists of two Sociology courses that focus on comparative criminology and criminal justice. There is a high demand to study criminology and criminal justice at U.S. universities making it one of the fastest growing academic fields. "By offering these summer courses at UNYP it is now one of the few places in Eastern Europe where you can explicitly study criminology and criminal justice.” Participating in the Summer Program gives CSU’s students a comparative experience about crime and justice in a rapidly changing society like the Czech Republic. “It is always interesting to study crime and justice in a transitioning society,” said Professor Shelley. Participants have a rare opportunity to learn about the nature and extent of Czech crime but also learn about how the Czech criminal justice system works. This type of comparative experience provides important insight for students as their immersion in another country enables a more critical view of their own society. "It's helpful for American students to understand that there are serious flaws in the American criminal justice system and it's important to hear that from European experts and criminal justice practitioners”.

This year, ten undergraduate students from CSU travelled to Prague for the Summer Program where they were joined by UNYP student Ekaterina Strelkova and UNYP student Diana Mosadak Amin Ahmed Ghalib. “We offer UNYP students who don't have the opportunity to study criminology and criminal justice during the regular academic year to enroll in the Summer Program—they are always more than welcome to join us.”

The Summer Program consists of two courses—International & Comparative Crime and Deviance and International & Comparative Criminal Justice Systems. The main objective of the courses is to learn about the nature and extent of crime in the Czech Republic and to understand how the local criminal justice system operates in response to crime. The courses address a number of topics that include corruption, human trafficking, juvenile justice, drug policy, war crimes and the Holocaust, as well as hate crime. The learning method of these courses involves a combination of traditional course work (lectures and readings) supplemented with experiential learning in the field. For example, this summer, participants were immersed in the local system and spent time visiting numerous institutions, including Pankrác Prison, Ruzyně Prison, Všehrdy Prison for juveniles, the Czech Municipal Court in Prague, the Czech Police, as well as a Harm Reduction Drop in Center for active drug users. Students were able to speak with prisoners at Pankrác prison while they worked on assembling products for private industry and ate lunch at Všehrdy Prison where they were served by inmates working in the kitchen.

CSU students coming to Prague for the Summer Program also have the opportunity to help local organizations with research. “One of the things that I like most about our Summer Program is the research opportunities for faculty and students. In a prior year one of our graduate students fielded surveys at several drug treatment facilities as well as Prague’s Drop in Center to support her thesis work on Czech drug policy,” said Professor Shelley, who wishes to see UNYP partner with CSU to eventually offer criminology as a major at UNYP.

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