Brussels Semester Course Catalog
In Brussels, SIS has created one of the most innovative programs in Europe for students that are interested in engaging in true intercultural experiences. Some of our courses are mandatory and, of course, there are optional electives for all types of students.
Mandatory Language Courses
All students, regardless of their proficiency level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced), start their SIS Intercultural Study Abroad experience in Brussels by attending our one-week intensive French Language Course. After taking an entrance exam, students are assigned to appropriate language levels. Throughout the first week of the program, they participate in classes and activities aimed at enhancing their linguistic skills. These activities cover various aspects such as listening, reading, writing, speaking, as well as integrated skills like answering questions, note-taking, and transcodification. Our instructors employ a wide range of teaching methods, going beyond the traditional textbook, in order to cater to each student’s individual strengths and promote their development. Additionally, students engage with the city environment and contribute to the creation of their own French language study materials.
8 hrs/week – After the intensive French course in Brussels during the first weeks, students will be placed in the appropriate language level. Throughout the semester, they will continue studying French for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week. Classes will include a mix of activities related to their experiences in the city, such as presentations, discussions, videos, quizzes, and writing assignments. They will also learn specific aspects of French grammar and explore Francophone culture.
Intermediate and advanced levels will focus on a thorough study of grammar and communication. The teachers will use various materials, including French movies, works by French authors, and authentic online resources, to make the learning process engaging and immersive. Cultural knowledge will also be shared to enrich the language learning experience.
Optional Language Courses
15 total contact hours – Brussels is a bilingual city, with French and Flemish (a variety of Dutch) being the official languages. In order to give students a complete understanding of the country’s identity and the coexistence of these two languages, we offer a survival Dutch course.
This course equips students with basic language skills and cultural knowledge to navigate everyday communication in Brussels. It helps them interact with people, for example, on public transportation or during Service Learning activities, and provides orientation when traveling within Belgium. Students will learn common expressions, vocabulary, phrases, and useful language chunks. The classroom activities are designed to quickly grasp the essentials or enhance existing knowledge and skills in Dutch. The main objective of this additional language course is to encourage students to contemplate the significance of multilingualism in Europe and within European institutions and organizations. In essence, we aim to foster students’ alignment with the philosophy and approach that underpin the European Union. It’s important to note that prior knowledge of Dutch is not required to participate in these courses.
Mandatory Intercultural Reflection Course
This course integrates structured and guided reflection on key issues that define the world today, considering both global and local perspectives. Real-life examples from the host society are used to facilitate reflection and encourage the comparison of different viewpoints. Students are prompted and guided to contemplate the evolving challenges they will encounter as future global citizens.
The primary goal of this course is to empower students as active global citizens, equipping them with knowledge, skills, and a reflective mindset. This enables them to engage with the world while maintaining a sense of direction, explore the boundaries of their own culture, view reality from diverse angles, and recognize the underlying bonds of humanity beneath apparent differences.
Content Courses (all worth 3 credits)
AREA 1: Historical-political, legal, and socio-anthropological aspects of the city of Brussels and Belgian society
45 total contact hours – This course aims to explore the transition of Europe, particularly Belgium, from being a place of emigration to becoming a destination that has experienced significant immigration flows in recent decades. While the focus will be on Belgium due to the course location, the experiences of other notable countries, such as Italy, Spain, and Ireland, will also be considered. These countries have witnessed mass emigration in the past and are now grappling with the challenges posed by substantial immigration flows.
In addition to classroom activities, the course will incorporate videos, films, and site visits to museums or documentation centers dedicated to migration. Students will also have the opportunity to visit local agencies that work with migrant communities, asylum seekers, and refugees. These additional experiences will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities and realities of migration dynamics in the region.
45 total contact hours – In recent years, there has been a distorted debate surrounding the integration of Islam in Europe, including Belgium. This debate often presents a biased and incomplete analysis of the religion, its understanding, and its visibility. Unfortunately, this approach neglects a thorough examination of the intercultural dialogue that Islam and its culture can foster with the “Western” world. In Brussels, where the Muslim population has gradually grown to around 160,000 people, representing 39% of all Muslims in the country and almost 17% of the total population of Brussels, this dialogue holds particular significance.
In light of this context, SIS aims to offer a course on the historical perspectives and contemporary challenges of integrating Islam and Muslims in Europe. Students in Brussels will explore the history of Islamic thought, its sociological and political implications, and the intercultural dynamics involved in its integration in Europe. To promote intercultural dialogue, students will have access to various academic and experiential resources. As Brussels is considered “one of the most Muslim cities in the Western world,” students will have opportunities to engage in immersive activities within the city, such as visiting museums, mosques, and sharing experiences during the month of Ramadan.
At the end of each spring semester, the Brussels program will conclude with a trip to Tangier, Morocco, aiming to broaden students’ perspectives gained during the courses in Belgium.
45 total contact hours – Brussels and Belgium are renowned worldwide for their European institutions and exceptional culinary delights. Among the notable contributions originating from Belgium are:
- Belgian fries (often mistakenly called French fries) with a wide variety of accompanying sauces.
- Beer, particularly the Abbey beer crafted by Trappist monks.
- Pralines, delightful chocolate treats with a crunchy exterior and an explosion of flavors inside, perfected over time by master chocolatiers.
This course aims to delve into the origins and global dissemination of these Belgian delicacies. Behind their history lie significant cultural and historical aspects, such as Belgium’s colonial past in the Congo, which facilitated the importation of cocoa. Additionally, intriguing chemical aspects are explored, particularly in the production of the Lambic beer unique to Brussels.
The classes are designed to be interactive, encouraging students to read, discuss, and reflect, while most importantly, savoring these delights! Students will participate in excursions to breweries, beer factories, fries museums, and chocolatiers for guided visits and tastings. Moreover, they will have the opportunity to engage in cooking lessons to create their own pralines and beers. The readings for this course encompass historical and cultural perspectives, providing a comprehensive understanding of these culinary treasures.
** Also offered during Winter Term: in this case the course will also include 12-15 hours of French language. In total the course will be worth 3 credits.
45 total contact hours – This course aims to explore the history and development of the various forms of the French language worldwide, with the goal of fostering a deeper understanding of cultural differences and intercultural connections within the Francophonie. By examining the collaboration between French-speaking countries and the preservation and transformation of the language, we can gain insights into the diverse accents and usage that exist today.
Students will uncover how this linguistic evolution has influenced the culture of over 80 countries, establishing enduring connections among them. We will also specifically examine how Brussels exemplifies this linguistic richness.
Theoretical analysis and discussions will be complemented by written and spoken examples from different varieties of French. Students will be encouraged to conduct independent research to further familiarize themselves with these cultural aspects.
AREA 2: The European Union and its institutions, European law, EU goals and priorities, European identity and its facets
45 total contact hours – The course aims to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the evolution of European institutions and the EU agenda throughout different historical periods. Initially, the focus will be on the institutional structure of the European Union, exploring the distinct competencies of each institution and how the European organizational machinery functions. Additionally, the course will examine the significance of various institutions on the global stage and their impact on member countries.
Special emphasis will be placed on the EU agenda. Students will analyze the development and evolution of its goals, as well as the collaboration between member states and the EU in advancing the agenda in key areas such as digitization, health, environment, security, international trade, and migration.
AREA 3: Business
45 total contact hours – The European Union as we know it today emerged from a desire to embrace the diversity of European countries and transform it into an asset, while also aiming to harmonize the economy and facilitate commercial trade. This endeavor has resulted in the creation of the largest market in the world.
This course takes advantage of being located in one of the European Union capitals to explore the various aspects of European business and marketing. It is designed for students interested in understanding modern European marketing, the unique dynamics of Europe, and its distinctive characteristics and context in comparison to the United States. The course covers historical material, tracing the origins of the European business community and the growth of global companies based in Europe. Additionally, it examines marketing strategies employed in Europe and the business culture prevalent in the region.
To facilitate learning, the course incorporates academic resources and analysis of case studies on European business and marketing. This allows students to analyze and discuss the ongoing changes and the specific attributes of the European business market using concrete evidence and data.