Bauhaus: The Origin of Modern Design

Seminar Quick Facts

Location: Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin, Germany

Faculty Leader: Kathryn Starkey, German Studies and English (by Courtesy)

BOSP Special Programs Coordinator: Morgan Kapinos

Arrival date in Berlin, Germany: June 23, 2019

Departure date from Berlin, Germany: July 12, 2019


Additional Program Requirements
Ground Rules - In order to optimize safety during the program, students will be required to agree to and sign Ground Rules that may restrict behavior throughout the program. These Ground Rules are in addition to the BOSP Participation and Assumption of Risk, Release of Claims, Indemnification and Hold Harmless Agreement that all students sign and agree to at the time of program application. Students’ parents/families will also need to sign these Ground Rules to confirm that they acknowledge the specific dangers of travel to the program location.

Activity Level
Light/Moderate: Activities may include city walking tours, easy/short hikes, museum and other site visits as well as an occasional physical activity such as snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking. For a full list of program activity levels refer to the Overview page.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Information for Travelers to Germany

US State Department Country Information

Visa Information
Consulate General of Germany

General Information: Visit the Overseas Seminars/Faculty-Initiated Programs Overview page

Application Deadline: October 28, 2018

General Description

This seminar introduces students to one of the most influential design movements of the modern age. The Staatliches Bauhaus was a German design school that ran for only 14 years—from 1919 to 1933—but its impact on architecture and design can still be seen today. The goal was to produce a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art that included painting, architecture, interior design, and items of everyday use. Socialist in ideology Bauhaus design was intended to be accessible to all. In this seminar we will explore the development of this important aesthetic and social movement, concurrent cultural developments in literature, theater, and film, and the movement’s afterlife in the United States.

Students will visit the three major centers of the Bauhaus movement: Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin and have the opportunity to see spectacular private houses, and extensive collections and exhibits of Bauhaus designs curated especially for Bauhaus 100, the Bauhaus centennial that takes place in 2019.

This seminar will appeal to students interested in art, design, society, politics, modernity, and contemporary culture. Assignments include readings, lively participation in discussion, and a final presentation. Students will need to bring laptops.

Students will:

  • learn first-hand about the major aesthetic movement and its afterlife.
  • gain a deep critical understanding of the politics of art.
  • develop tools to describe and analyze architectural structures and cultural artifacts (e.g., literary texts, objects, and art).
  • acquire facility in reconstructing social behaviors and propensities across time and space.
  • hone their skills in the synthesis and presentation of information.


This seminar will take place in three locations that were critical for the Bauhaus school: Berlin, Weimar, and Dessau. The first few days in Berlin will introduce students to the Bauhaus movement, its subjects (textiles, photography, daily-use objects, art, and architecture), and its major players (including Martin Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Klee, Marianne Brandt, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Hannes Meyer, Johannes Itten, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, Gertrud Arndt, Anni and Josef Albers, and others). We will cycle around some of the Bauhaus-built neighborhoods to get a sense of how people might have experienced the movement’s original social living and working environments.

In Weimar our focus will be on the founding of the Bauhaus school and the development of its ideology. As Walter Gropius proclaimed, in his Bauhaus Manifesto (1919): “Let us create a new guild of craftsmen, free of the divisive class pretensions that endeavored to raise a prideful barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us strive for, conceive and create the new building of the future that will unite every discipline, architecture and sculpture and painting, and which will one day rise heavenwards from the million hands of craftsmen as a clear symbol of a new belief to come.” We will have the opportunity to visit one of the earliest Bauhaus communities.

The socialist architecture of Dessau provides an excellent backdrop for discussing the Bauhaus aesthetic and politics. Highlights of our stay in Dessau will include living in the restored student quarters of the Bauhaus school, eating in the Kornhaus (a Bauhaus-designed Biergarten), touring various Bauhaus houses and apartment buildings, and visiting the new extensive Bauhaus museum.

Our discussions when we return to Berlin will center around the end of the movement and its international influences, particularly in the United States. Such influences include the Chicago Institute of Design (founded as the New Bauhaus by Moholy-Nagy), and the Black Mountain College founded by Josef and Anni Albers. The highlights of our second stay in Berlin include exloring the city with the new perspective gained from our visits to Weimar and Dessau.

Living and Travel Conditions

  • Students will be housed mainly in hotels. In Dessau, students will have the rare opportunity to stay in the original apartments of the Bauhaus students. These student apartments have shared bathrooms.
  • We will spend our days walking, hopping on and off public transportation, walking through museums, and on one day we will do a bike tour of Berlin.
  • The weather might range from low 70s to high 80s during the day. Students should bring comfortable shoes and be prepared for rain.
  • All areas are safe with respect to crime and disease.
  • Especially in the eastern cities of Weimar and Dessau not everyone speaks English very well, and it will be very much appreciated if you can speak a few words of German. For this reason, you will be taking a crash course at the beginning of the seminar and will learn to say please and thank you, order food, and ask for directions.
  • Breakfasts will be available in the hotels; we will have many group lunches in restaurants; dinners will be mostly independent. In Germany it is possible to get vegetarian food. Other dietray restrictions can be more challenging in restaurants, but there are many inexpensive grocery stores in the cites where we will be staying, so you should always be able to find something that you can eat.


Kathryn Starkey is a Professor of German Studies in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. She has worked on German culture of the 1920’s, and is particularly interested in film and visual culture from this period. She first developed her familiarity with the Bauhaus school in Weimar and Dessau, which she visited soon after the fall of the Iron curtain in 1990. Professor Starkey has travelled, studied, and worked extensively in Germany and speaks German fluently. In 2015 she taught the Overseas Seminar “Going Medieval” that took place in the historic towns of Freiburg im Breisgau, Basel, Strasbourg, and Constance.

Prerequisites and Expectations

There are no prerequisites. There will be one mandatory group meeting in Spring 2019 (date and time TBD) to discuss seminar plans and answer any questions.

Application Process

Decisions will be based on application materials. There are no interviews. The seminar capacity is 15 students.

Grading Basis

Students will receive a letter grade based on participation in the seminar and the final project.

Passport and Visa

Students are solely responsible for obtaining their passport and visa (if applicable). Every BOSP participant MUST have a signed passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the scheduled RETURN date from the overseas program. Students who do not have a valid passport must apply for a new or renewed passport immediately. For information on obtaining or renewing a U.S. passport please visit the State Department website.

To determine whether a visa is necessary for your program, visit the Consulate General of Germany website. You may also consult with the recommended visa service providers listed below.

VisaCentral by CIBT
VisaCentral by CIBT offers online Stanford rates, or contact the local office:

In person: 555 Montgomery St. Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94111
Walk-in hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
By phone: (877) 535-0688

VisaBy Casto for Stanford Travel Program
VisaBy Casto offers special rates for Stanford online, or through the local office:

Address: 2560 North First Street, Suite 150, San Jose, CA 95131
By phone: (408) 553-4735
By email:

Health and Safety

Students on international programs should be aware that attitudes toward medical conditions, disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and psychological conditions vary by culture and under the laws of the host countries. These differences impact the level of treatment and accommodation available abroad. Students should give serious consideration to their health and personal circumstances when accepting a place in a program and should consult with their clinician.

While the benefits of international travel can be enormous, it is often associated with certain health and safety risks. Thankfully, a number of interventions exist to mitigate these risks including vaccines, use of certain medications, and specific behavior changes. Health concerns vary by the particular destination, time of year, the health of the individual, type of accommodations, length of stay and specific activities. Participants should be up to date on all their regular immunizations, check the CDC website for vaccinations and immunizations. In addition, specific travel vaccines such as typhoid, yellow fever, or rabies vaccines may be indicated. Various types of medication may also be needed to prevent life-threatening malaria or altitude illness; or to treat traveler’s diarrhea. Finally, students should learn and utilize insect precautions, food and water precautions, and general safety precautions. These can prevent illnesses such as dengue fever, schistosomiasis, HIV; or accidents such as those involving motor vehicles. In spite of all the precautions, occasionally students do become ill or sustain an injury while traveling. Thankfully, most of these are minor. However, it is critical that students have a clear plan of care in case of an emergency on their trip. The travel clinic at the Vaden Health Center has produced an online travel health module that provides comprehensive strategies to help you stay safe and healthy while traveling.

Students must review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for complete information regarding the health concerns and vaccine recommendations specific to Germany. Students must also discuss with the on-campus Vaden Health Center Travel Clinic or a travel health specialist about the best ways to protect their health.

Students must review the U. S. State Department’s Country Information for complete information on safety and security in Germany.

As with any foreign travel, students are advised to be alert to their surroundings, and be particularly aware of any health and safety advisories for the area in which they will be visiting. Students should consult with their health care provider(s) to be prepared for potential illness. Additional issues of personal health and safety and precautions will be discussed in detail during the mandatory pre-seminar preparation and upon arriving in the country.

If you are uncomfortable traveling under such conditions, you should not apply to this seminar.

Program Modification and Cancelation

Stanford reserves the right to cancel or modify the Program before or during its operation for any reason, including natural disasters, emergencies, low enrollment, unavailability of facilities or personnel, or compliance with the University travel policy at