Systemic Change: Berlin's History and Current Social Policies

Program Dates: July 11, 2023 - July 17, 2023

This graduate course will focus on systemic approaches to preventing discrimination as demonstrated by examining the historical treatment of LGBTQ people in Germany. Berlin is a unique venue for learning about historical LGBTQ civil rights efforts and current progressive efforts to expand the rights of LGBTQ individuals andfamilies, as well as the work being done to end the societal discrimination that many LGBT individuals and relationships experience. 

Students will increase knowledge of LGBTQ history, civil rights, and culture through an exploration of Berlin, Germany. Berlin has an important role in LGBTQ history and is an international leader in advancing LGBTQ civil rights. 

• Visit the Schwules Museum to learn about the history, culture, and art of LGBTQ communities

• Experience the Brandenburg Gate, Kurfürstendamm Avenue, and the remains of the Berlin Wall

• Visit the Holocaust Memorial and Topography of Terror Museum 

• Experience established LGBTQ neighborhoods embedded within the vibrant and diverse city of Berlin

• Attend the largest LGBTQ festival in Europe 

• Learn about the persecution of LGBTQ people faced during the Holocaust 

This study abroad program will focus on LGBTQ heroes, history, culture, and the struggle for civil rights within the context of a vibrant diverse metropolitan. Berlin is the capital and largest city in Germany that has been the site of many important historical events. Students will have the opportunity to visit one of the world’s oldest and largest museums dedicated to preserving and sharing LGBTQ history and culture. In addition, we will explore well-established LGBTQ neighborhoods within Berlin, as well as learn about the experiences of LGBTQ individuals during the Holocaust. This study abroad program will further involve attending the Lesbian and Gay City Festival (known locally as the Motz Street Festival), the largest LGBTQ street festival in Europe, which includes musical performances, presentations by politicians, booths hosted by LGBTQ organizations, and so much more. At the conclusion of the study abroad, students will gain a global understanding of LGBTQ history, culture, and civil rights.



Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. It's 3.7 million inhabitants make it the European Union's most populous city. Berlin is known for its numerous cultural institutions, many of which enjoy international reputation. The diversity and vivacity of the metropolis led to a trendsetting atmosphere. An innovative music, dance and art scene has developed in the 21st century. Young people, international artists and entrepreneurs continued to settle in the city and made Berlin a popular entertainment center in the world.



All participants will be enrolled in the following course. Each student will take the course for 1-3 credits. Please discuss your credit requirements with the faculty leader.

Course Prefix

Course Name



HPC 5545

Systemic Change: Berlin's History and Current Social Policies


Kristen Benson


Faculty Leaders

Dr. Kristen Benson
Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling


Kristen Benson, Ph.D., LMFT, is an Associate Professor and Program Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy at Appalachian State University. She earned her B.S. in Family Science from Florida State University, M.A. in MFT from Appalachian State University, and Ph.D. in Human Development from Virginia Tech with an emphasis in MFT. Her research, clinical, and teaching centers on social justice and inclusion, with a focus on providing ethical and inclusive therapy to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) people and relationships. She has published and presented her research nationally and internationally. Dr. Benson is a clinical fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a member of the National Council on Family Relations. 

Program Cost: $4,233

Program cost includes airfare, most meals, lodging, in-country transportation. 

Estimated Additional Expenses


Tuition - Resident

$152.54 / credit hour

Tuition - Non-Resident

$172.54 / credit hour

Meals not included




Please note that non-billable costs are estimates only and will be affected by personal spending habits, currency fluctuations, etc. Prices listed in USD unless otherwise noted. Students are encouraged to start planning for their study abroad program costs well in advance. 

Payment Schedule





 Upon receipt of application

Payment 1



Payment 2 



Payment 3



Appalachian reserves the right to cancel or alter the program format or to change costs in case of conditions beyond the university's control.  Further details about Appalachian's withdrawal/cancellation policy can be found at this link.


Application Process

  1. In order to apply for this program, you will need to contact one of the program leaders and provide your Banner ID and email address. Program leaders may request additional information or a meeting to discuss the details of the program and your interest.
  2. When permission to apply for the program is granted, you will receive an email from your faculty leader with a link to the application and further instructions.
  3. Your application will be considered complete when you have submitted it and paid the $300 deposit fee. The fee cannot be paid until it appears on your student account. Please note that it may take 2–3 business days for it to post to your account. You will receive an email with Instructions for paying the deposit fee. Instructions can also be found in the application.