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Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Berlin, Germany; Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Program Terms: Penn Summer Abroad
  • Budget Sheets: Penn Summer Abroad
Fact Sheet:
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

Discover the lively culture and practice of sustainability, environmentalism, and policy-making in Germany and the Netherlands.

This program introduces students to the cultural aspects of sustainability in two exemplary European countries. In Germany, the focus is on the Energy Transition to renewables and the cultural factors that predispose this populace to embrace green politics and sustainable practices, even at personal cost. In the Netherlands, the focus is on how cultural factors play a role in the way the Dutch approach issues relating to sea level rise and flooding in a country where 26% of its terrain is at or below sea-level and a further 29% subject to inland flooding.

This 13-day program, taught exclusively in English, with a preparatory online component, gives students the chance to see sustainability in action in Germany and the Netherlands, two countries widely recognized as leaders in innovative response to climate change. The highlight of the course is travel to Berlin and Rotterdam where students meet local and federal policy makers, ecologists, architects, urban planners, engineers, and activists. Students also tour sites such as a biodynamic farm, an innovative storm surge barrier, a university dedicated to sustainable development, floating architecture, and specialized research facilities. In addition, students are encouraged to enjoy the vibrant cultural scenes of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Berlin.


General Eligibility Requirements

Penn Summer Abroad programs are available to undergraduate students at Penn or another accredited US institution. To take part in a Penn Summer Abroad program, all students, including Penn and visiting students, must complete an online application and maintain a strong academic standing.

Personal Conduct and Academic Integrity

In order to qualify to study abroad, you need to be in good academic standing at Penn. In addition, your disciplinary status may affect your eligibility to study abroad. You may not be eligible to study abroad if you currently stand charged or are charged prior to the beginning of your study abroad semester with a violation of a University regulation under the University of Pennsylvania's Code of Student Conduct or Code of Academic Integrity, or if there is a pending, current, or outstanding disciplinary matter (academic integrity or conduct). When the charge results in a warning or reprimand, the student may be eligible to study abroad pending a review of the situation. When the charge results in probation, suspension-not-imposed, suspension, or any sanction as serious as or more serious than probation, students are not eligible to study abroad during the period of the sanction.

Students who have received a sanction of probation or suspension-not-imposed may be eligible to study abroad during a future semester after the expiration date of the sanction. However, students must provide confirmation from the Office of Student Conduct that the terms and conditions of their sanction have been met before receiving Penn Abroad approval to study abroad. If there are new charges during the period of the sanction, approval to study abroad may be rescinded.


All students register for a total of one course unit (c.u.)*. Course offerings are subject to change. Course registration is completed by the Penn Summer Abroad office for students who confirm their intent to enroll and submit the required pre-departure documents.

Comparative Cultures of Sustainability
GRMN 181 / ENVS 181 / URBS 181 (1 c.u.)
  • Taught by Simon Richter
  • Fulfills requirement: Cross-cultural analysis
This hybrid course (with online and study abroad components) explores the role that cultural and cultural-historical factors play in predisposing citizens to accept sustainability as a national, local, and personal priority. In the online portion, students will become acquainted with the cultural histories and current situation of German and Dutch attitudes toward sustainability and the environment and develop tools for analyzing and interpreting cultural difference. The course highlight is a 13-day trip to Berlin and the Netherlands for on-site visits to exemplary institutions and sites in countries noted for their ecological leadership.

Special Features


Students may be interested in pursuing an internship at the conclusion of the program:
  • The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania offers $5,000 of competitive funding for Berlin-based, unpaid internships with a focus on energy policy. The deadline for application for Kleinman funding is April 15, 2018. Application instructions will be posted later in Fall 2017.
  • The Department of Germanic Languages can offer assistance in finding a sustainability related internship in Berlin or another German city. Early applications get the best results. Please e-mail Simon Richter for more details about the process, and get advice and strategies on how to find an internship in Germany. German language proficiency is required for most internships.
  • Students are encouraged to contact companies, NGOs and ministries in Germany and the Netherlands directly.
  • The Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German development office) offers internships in departments across their company. 


Students will be housed in stylish hostels in Amsterdam and Rotterdam and in a centrally located dorm in Berlin.

Cost and Finance

Tuition and fees are subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and may change without notice.
Tuition and fees for 2018 will be posted in February 2018.

Tuition for Summer 2017: $4,072
Program Fee for Summer 2017: $2,400
Includes accommodation with breakfast, all museum entrance fees, cultural activities, all local transport costs, and administrative costs. It is expected that the Program Fee for Summer 2018 will be significantly lower because of a generous grant from the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures.

There are three options for funding support:

1) The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures provides grants of up to $1500 to undergraduate students who are currently (2017/18) or have been enrolled in advanced German courses (GRMN 301 and above, taught in German). These grants may be used to defray program and/or travel costs. Applications accepted through March 1. Please allow the review committee ten business days to consider all applications. To apply, send an email indicating your interest and intention to participate in Penn in Berlin and Rotterdam, along with a list of German courses you have taken or are currently taking. Successful applicants will be asked to contribute to a blog about their experience on a Departmental site and to participate in an informational event during the subsequent fall semester. Applications and any questions may be directed to Program Director Simon Richter at 

2) The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy supports qualified undergraduate and graduate students pursuing professional and academic research opportunities related to energy policy through competitive grant funding. Students are encouraged to apply as either as individuals or as a team. Support may be used to cover research expenses, team project costs, conference registration or travel, and other professional development activities. Applications must be submitted online by February 1, 2018. A brief description of the request and an itemized budget are required. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis during both the academic year and the summer months. Please allow the review committee ten business days to consider all applications. Questions may be directed to Kleinman Center Deputy Director, Cory Colijn, at

3) The Penn Program in Environmental Humannities will also provide grants. Details and deadline TBD.

Next Steps

For more details about Penn-in-Berlin & Rotterdam please visit our website or attend one of our info sessions:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 
Williams Hall 319

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Williams Hall 319

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Location TBD