The Experiential Teaching of Berlin— Theoretical Reflections and Best Practices from a Study Abroad Site


  • Thomas Wagenknecht



Experiential teaching, Study abroad, Berlin, Germany, Intercultural learning, Education Abroad


This article revisits approaches to experiential teaching of the city as conducted in various courses of a study abroad program in Berlin, Germany. While the processes of the students' intercultural learning take on many different facets, the article focuses on the cultural manifestations of Berlin and their intercultural and experiential teacher-student mediation in and outside the classroom. With a joint interest in holism, authenticity, and problem solving, the synthesis of experiential education and intercultural teaching yields a worthwhile perspective of thinking about the city as a study object (Brennan, 2007; Lutterman-Aguilar, 2002; Itin, 1999). Based on the analysis and interpretation of qualitative interviews conducted with study abroad educators, the article taps into their experiences of teaching the city against the backdrop of intercultural dynamics. After theorizing about an experiential education of the city and the role of the actors involved in it, the article describes ways of navigating cycles of experiential learning and discusses best practices of teaching the city by means of experiential education. Since these practices do not exhaust the potential of experiential education, the article also serves as a plea for more experiential teaching of the city.


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Author Biography

Thomas Wagenknecht

Thomas Wagenknecht is currently both pursuing his work at IES Abroad and completing his PhD degree in American Cultural Studies, for which he is researching American identities and the way they are impacted by study abroad experiences. He has taught classes on American cultural theory and on research methods for inquiries into metropolitan studies. His research interests encompass the narrative construction of identities, intercultural education, and questions of environmental justice. 


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How to Cite

Wagenknecht, T. (2011). The Experiential Teaching of Berlin— Theoretical Reflections and Best Practices from a Study Abroad Site. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 20(1), 137–153.