International Summer Universities Bring the World to Hessen

As the days get longer and campuses get greener, students from all five continents and countries ranging from the United States of America to the island country of Cape Verde come to Hessen to take part in the Hessen International Summer Universities or “Hessen:ISUs.” These month-long courses were created to give international students with no knowledge of German the opportunity to get a taste of some of Hessen’s top fields of research and study.

Now in its 11th year, roughly 250 undergraduate and graduate students attend one of the five Hessen:ISU programs each year to earn credits in their field of study, to explore a new area, or to take advantage of the combination of an intense academic experience alongside a full cultural and recreational program.

The courses all combine academic seminars and lectures on particular topics – or “modules” as they’re now known across Europe – with German-language training, visits to companies or museums, as well as an introduction to German culture through cooking classes, movies, trips to neighboring areas, and more. Students generally earn 6 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation (ECTS) credits for the academic seminars and an additional 3 ECTS credits for the German-language classes that are offered at all levels.

The student body of the Hessen:ISUs is truly international and the opportunity to experience life inside and outside the classroom with new friends from around the world is one of the most important parts of the experience for most participants. Pam Berkeley, who attended the program in Kassel in 2004 while a student at UMASS Dartmouth, visited ISU friends in Hong Kong after the program and said, “The courses, trips, and daily life in Kassel provided lasting lessons and great friendships between ISUers.”

Some of the ISUs take place during the summer break for German universities, but there are always ways to integrate into the day-to-day life in Germany. The University of Kassel offers a homestay option that nearly every student takes advantage of, and many of the programs have “tandem” language programs where ISU students are paired with German students to exchange language training. At Fulda University of Applied Sciences, students are given a bicycle and a cell phone upon arrival to use for the summer, so that they can get around – and stay in touch – just as easily as their German counterparts.

Offerings for 2011 include:

•  "European Integration and Financial Markets" at Goethe University Frankfurt and the Fachhochschule Frankfurt am Main (July 17-August 13) offers two seminar tracks:

1) The seminar "European Studies", includes the following fields of study: Intercultural Communication, History of European Integration, European Economic and Social Policy, and European Central Banking

2) The seminar "Finance and Financial Markets" includes the following fields of study: Intercultural Communication, Money and Macroeconomics, Finance and Law, Financial Markets, and Financing of an Entity.

More information about the ISU Frankfurt can be found at:

•  "Biotechnology and Intellectual Property" at the Justus Liebig University of Giessen (July 16-August 13). Modules include: Business, Law, Biotech Applications and Biotech Ethics as well as study tours ". More info about the ISU at Justus Liebig University of Giessen can be found at

•  "New Perspectives for a Globalized World: Environmental and Cultural Dimensions" at the University of Kassel (June 18-July 16). Modules on environment and technology include: "Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change", "Environmental Engineering and Integrative Environmental Studies", and “Earthquake Engineering”, while cultural modules include "German History and Politics", “German Fairytales”, “German History and Politics of the 20th Century” (in English or German), and "Intercultural Communication". More info about the ISU at the University of Kassel can be found at

•  "Peace and Conflict. Near and Middle East – A European Perspective" at Philipps-Universität Marburg (July 26-August 19).Modules taught in English include: "Religions, Cultures, and Conflicts", "Iraq – Conflict between Old and New Europe", "The Palestine-Israel Conflict: European Perspectives", and "Economic Aspects of the Near and Middle East Region and European Influences". Additional seminars taught in German plus language courses in Arabic are also offered. More info about the ISU at the University of Marburg can be found at

•  Advancing Sustainability – Economic and Social Dimensions from a European Perspective at the University of Applied Sciences Fulda (July 16-August 13). Seminar topics include: "Music Therapy", “Intercultural Communication”, “Stress Management”, “German Language and Culture”, and "Marketing". More info about the ISU at the University of Applied Sciences Fulda can be found at

More information about all of the Hessen:ISUs can be found at