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Printing, Protestantism, and Progress

Held in Germany and Switzerland, this program explores the impact of technology on Western Europe and Christianity since the invention of the printing press in 1440.

Program Overview

The printing press is arguably the most revolutionary and profound agent of change the world has seen in its political, social, religious, and economic affairs since the phonetic alphabet. How Johannes Gutenberg, the son of a religious economist and himself a goldsmith, combined the technologies of paper, oil-based ink, hot-metal type, and the screw-type wine press to achieve the medium of the book, the world’s first mass-produced commodity, and what its immediate and long-ranging effects were, will be the primary focus of the course. Along the way we will also learn about the genealogy of the interchangeable part, the invention of the clock, representative money, the rise of capitalism, and other techniques contributing to the modern world as characterized by market economies of mass production. How these changes in media forms affected the religious practice, and subsequent heritage of Germany, Switzerland, Western Europe, and the globalized world as a whole will be traced through a technology and culture tour that focuses on the rise of the machine and its impact on subsequent world history.

  • Sponsoring Department(s):  Communication and Education
  • Program Leader(s): Dr. Read Schuchardt and Dr. Mark Jonas
  • Term: Summer
  • On-Campus Dates:  May 8 - May 13, 2017 
  • Travel Dates:  May 14 - June 16, 2017
  • Estimated Cost: $7,900.00 (airfare not included)
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Eligibility: Open to Wheaton and non-Wheaton students; although the program was created primarily for Communication/Media Studies majors, it is useful, applicable, and of relevance to Philosophy, Education, Economics, Political-Science, Art, Theology, and German language majors as well.  Each year, about half of the students are from academic areas other than Communication.
  • Highlights:  One month of travel, two weeks in Germany and two weeks in Switzerland, with on-campus instruction prior to travel. 

Course Offerings

All students will take the following courses for six credit hours:

COMM 444: Printing, Protestantism, and Progress (4 credit hours)
The course is a combination of one week of on-campus instruction plus four weeks of in-country travel in eight key cities in Germany and Switzerland that are historic sites of significance in relation to: 1. The invention, evolution, and impact of printing press technology, 2. Martin Luther's formal education and origin of the Protestant Reformation (and later in John Calvin's Geneva and Huldrych Zwingli's Zurich) and 3. The evolution of propaganda from religious practice to political strategy in WWII Germany, and how these technological changes subsequently contributed both to the material and political culture of modernity in European and Western history. 

PHIL 330/EDUC 310: Nietzsche on Christianity, Ethics and Education (2 credit hours)
This experiential education course will trace the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students will learn how Nietzsche influenced philosophy, social theory, literary theory, aesthetics, politics, religion, education and culture. While in Switzerland and Italy, we will visit the places Nietzsche lived and worked while writing and discuss the cultural contexts that contributed to his views. The goal of this course is to explore some of his most important and influential ideas relating to Christianity, ethics and education.

Program Fees

The estimated program fee covers tuition, room and board for the on-campus week (meals available M-F only), two weeks of lodging in Germany and two weeks of lodging in Switzerland, museum and/or site entry tickets at all scheduled museum/site visits, schedule guided tours, German and Swiss Rail Passes, and two meals per day while in Europe. Students will be responsible for the cost of international airfare from Chicago to Frankfurt and the return from Zürich to Chicago. Students will also be responsible for:

  • The cost of textbooks and course materials
  • Saturday and Sunday meals while on-campus 
  • Transportation costs from Wheaton College to Chicago O’Hare airport on day of departure
  • Transportation costs from Frankfurt International Airport to Koenigshof Hotel
  • One meal per day (on average) while in Europe
  • Passport fees
  • Personal expenses

    Learn More

    If you would like further information or have questions about the program, please contact Dr. Read Schuchardt, Associate Professor of Communication. 

    How to Apply

    For more information and to apply, visit GoGlobal, Wheaton College's registration system for off-campus study and international travel, research, and internships.

    This film is from the 2011 Media, Medievals & Modernity trip.