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European Studies

The interdisciplinary major in European studies (EUS) is designed for students who want to broaden their awareness of the European experience and to prepare for international careers or advanced study involving history, political science, economics, the fine arts, and/or literature. The program curriculum is designed to provide disciplinary breadth with cross-disciplinary expertise in a specialty of the student’s own choosing. In consultation with the director of EUS, students select a major focus and specific courses that will fulfill the requirements for the major. This focus might consist of a thematic or comparative topic (such as culture and society in the 1920s, the 1960s, or the era of the French Revolution), a regional or sub-regional topic (e.g., European integration, the Iberian Peninsula) or the culture and society of a particular nation (e.g., France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain). In addition to the core requirements, majors enroll in relevant courses in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and take a foreign language of the student’s choice.

Most EUS majors also participate in one of the Vanderbilt study abroad programs in Europe and/or reside in the McTyeire International House on campus. Both experiences have proven to be immensely useful in preparing students for future careers with international awareness. The EUS minor entails 18 hours of coursework with the usual concentration and distribution requirements. Additional options allow students to combine their EUS major with one of the language and literature majors (French and European Studies, German and European Studies, Italian and European Studies, Russian and European Studies, Spanish and European Studies, or Spanish, Portuguese, and European Studies).

Recently Offered Courses

Given the program’s emphasis on both breadth and depth, the EUS curriculum offers its majors a diverse array of course options. Some recent examples include: European Culture and Society, The Idea of Europe, The European Union, European Cities, West European Politics, Music in the Age of Beethoven and Schubert, The Holocaust, Religion and Politics in Modern Europe 1648-Present, Berlin in the 20th Century: A Mapbox Project, From Romanticism to Symbolism, Italian Renaissance Art, Contemporary Philosophy, Jews in Russian Culture, and Literature of the Spanish Golden Age.

Honors Program

Students admitted to the EUS Honors Program have an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary reading and research on the specific thematic focus of their program of concentration under the tutelage of a EUS faculty member. To qualify for honors, a candidate must have a minimum GPA of 3.3. Honors candidates enroll in 6 hours of independent research including EUS 4960 and EUS 4998. Their work culminates in an honors thesis. Normally this process begins in the student’s junior year, and concludes with a comprehensive oral examination in the spring semester of the senior year.

Other Special Opportunities

The Max Kade Center for European and German Studies regularly sponsors faculty colloquia, international conferences, and lectures by distinguished scholars, governmental officials, and corporate leaders. These events augment students’ understanding of European and transatlantic relations.

The 2014-15 lecture series included fifteen presentations and co-sponsorship of two symposia. Lecture topics included the following:  “Waging War through Images: Drones’ Precarious Visions;” “Imperial Germany’s Peculiar War, 1914-1918;” “Lives on the Outside: ‘Gypsies’ in Germany and Italy, 1861-1914;” “Remembering November 9;” “Max Weber Worldwide: The Reception of a Classic in Times of Radical Change;” “Schiller’s ‘An die Freude’: Leonard Bernstein and the Freude and/or Freiheit Debate;” “Engineering and Philosophy: Social, Technical, Intellectual Elites in Interwar Germany;” “From Berlin to LA and Beyond: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities;” “The Ethics of the Algorithm: Close and Distant Listening to the Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive;” “Beyond Colonial Questions: Germans in Guatemala since the 1880s;” “Ferdinand Lassalle, the First Socialist Celebrity;” “Masculinity, Mafia, and (Male) Melodrama;” “The Fisk Jubilee Singers on a Nineteenth-Century European Tour;” and "Disability and Able-bodiedness in Grimms' Fairy Tales.”

After Vanderbilt

Given the economic, political, and cultural implications of globalization and the emergence of the European Union, an understanding of Europe and its peoples and of transatlantic relations has rarely been more relevant. The EUS major is particularly well-equipped for pursuing a career in international business, law, banking, international aid organizations, and U.S. governmental agencies. EUS alumni have entered these fields or   pursued advanced work in graduate or professional schools.


EUS draws upon renowned teachers and scholars in numerous Vanderbilt departments.


Dr. Helmut Smith, Director
Max Kade Center for European and German Studies
243 Buttrick Hall
Phone: (615) 322-6220

European Studies Website