2014 Global Field Study Courses
Americans in Paris (GFS301.1/GFS401.1)
Location: Paris, France; May 7-14.
Paris was at the global heart of aesthetic production among writers and artists during the first half of the twentieth century, and making a pilgrimage to Paris was a rite of passage for young American writers. Why? What did Paris symbolize for American expatriate writers like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Langston Hughes? Why was being part of an international artistic community in Paris so crucial to their work? And how did the realities of French life compare to the Paris they had imagined? In pursuit of answers to these questions, students will read and interpret the literature that expatriate writers produced in and about Paris, and during our class's own journey to Paris students will deepen their understanding by retracing the expatriates' steps and recreating some of the key experiences that shaped the expatriates’ writing during the 1920s.
Beyond Conflict in Sierra Leone (GFS381.13/GFS481.13)
Location: Sierra Leone; May 23-June 3 (tentative).
This semester long course will meet weekly throughout the Spring semester. Our in-class course work will be interdisciplinary and will provide the following: a brief overview of the history of Sierra Leone in the context of Africa, an overview of the conflict and a discussion of the factors that led up to the conflict and its resolution, an overview of theories and best-practices in post-conflict development and reconstruction. The week long field study in Sierra Leone will enable students to meet with a variety of actors at different levels including politicians, university leaders, leaders of civil society and grassroots actors. We will visit a series of programs all oriented towards rebuilding the country politically, economically and socially following the conflict.
Biodesign Atacama (GFS 381.5)
Location: Chile; May 22-June 1.
This is an interdisciplinary course that will expose students to the biological concept of descent with modification in the novel and culturally rich environs of the Atacama Desert (the highest and driest desert on Earth). During the semester, we will be interacting, through a blog, with 5th grade students from the Wissahickon Charter School. These students are also learning about principles of evolution and will be proposing hypothetical organisms that can survive in various environments. We will be interacting with these students by providing feedback and asking questions to help the students construct their hypothetical organisms. While in Chile, we will be making our own observations of the flora and fauna and proposing hypothetical organisms that have adapted to the extreme environment of the Atacama Desert. Upon return, we will visit students at the Wissahickon Charter School to present our hypothetical organisms. We will also have discussions throughout the semester about the flora, fauna, geography, and climate of the Atacama Desert, as well as the archaeological, anthropological, astronomical, and geological features it has. In addition, Chilean art, literature, cuisine, music, culture, politics, and music will be discussed.
Conflict, Governance, and State Building: The Balkans
Locations: Serbia and Kosov; May 27-June 6.
The course introduces students to key concepts of post-conflict governance and state building. It will concentrate on politics and political solutions to conflicts, including those stemming from improved domestic governance and international post-conflict governance. The students will attain better understanding of the state, institutional causes of ethnic conflict, the role of government in causing and resolving conflict, problems of post-conflict state building, key aspects of inclusive governance in multiethnic societies, power sharing, and minority accommodation and integration. The course will explore key aspects of a case of a recent ethnic conflict in the Balkans: the roots and causes of the conflict, its history and consequences, the role of the international community, and post-conflict institution building. The course includes a field study to the Balkans visiting with leaders on both sides of the conflict: senior government officials, party leaders, local mayors, conflict resolution professionals, as well as U.S. and European diplomats.
Deliberate Living: Experiencing Walden (GFS381.8)
Location: Walden, Massachusetts; May 18-24.
“Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?” asks Henry David Thoreau in Walden. During the Industrial Revolution, Thoreau observed so-called progress all around him, but rather than improving our lives, he saw them being “frittered away by detail.” So on July 4th, 1845, he moved to Walden Pond: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” As technological growth and consumer consumption remain pillars of our society, Thoreau's quest to "live deliberately" is just as relevant today. As such, the focus of this course will be the individual student’s pursuit to determine what it means to “live deliberately" for themselves. Their pursuit will be guided by the major themes of Walden, like simplicity, solitude, nature, and paying attention / present moment awareness. And mirroring Thoreau's experiment at Walden, students will systematically investigate their lives, taking account of their basic necessities of food, shelter, clothing, and fuel, as well as personal habits and pastimes, working to determine which aspects of their lives enrich it and which may fritter it away.
Divided Cities in Cyprus (GFS381.12/GFS481.12)
Location: Cyprus; May 7-14.
Three themes related to peace and conflict resolution on the divided island of Cyprus are explored in this field study course: Division, governance, and reconciliation. Together, we will examine the historical context of the Cyprus conflict and the impact of its legacy on daily life in the capital city of Nicosia, the various proposals to address the grievances of the different communities, including the various proposals from the UN and the EU to govern the Island. To counter the narrative of division, the course also examines the various points that bring the different communities together out of the necessity of inhabiting “shared space,” visiting practitioner organizations on the ground that work toward peace and reconciliation through grassroots initiatives. The course meets throughout the spring semester, culminating in a weeklong trip to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus in May.
Marine Biology and Cultural History (GFS381.4)
Location: St John Island, Virgin Islands; March 8-15.
This is field course on St John Island, Virgin Islands that introduces students to the basics of marine biology and cultural history of St. John Island. It will be hosted by Viers marine station in St John. The course will cover the basics of marine biology from ocean currents to marine biota and explore the cultural history of St. John Island during the field component in St John Island. This is a global experience course with a global reflection option. St John is about 20 square miles is size, is part of the Virgin Islands and has one of the largest national park systems in the Caribbean. We will be staying Viers, the University of the Virgin Islands marine station. This is a remote biology field station with eco-camp living quarters and full lab facilities including water tables and microscopes for sample processing. We will be taking daily trips to explore the various habitats of the island. Trips include hikes and snorkeling to explore the various marine communities and ruins of the island. During these excursions we will learn about the different habitats and learn to identify both the marine plants and animals of the island. However, we will focus on the marine plants since they are less well characterized. Evening activities will include lectures by island experts, campfires and other lab activities. An interest in nature, marine biology and/or Caribbean culture is essential along with being a reasonable swimmer. Snorkeling will be taught in the 2 required pre-sessions.
Politics and Ethnic Conflict Management in Ukraine (GFS381.10/GFS481.10)
Location: Kiev and Crimea, Ukraine; May 24-June 6.
This course focuses on conflict management and conflict prevention efforts in Ukraine since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Three broad areas will be covered. First, we study the conflict between Kiev and Moscow, and Kiev and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea over the status of Crimea and of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet within a sovereign Ukraine. Second, we study minority rights and the ongoing conflict over the status of the Russian language. Finally, we study the ongoing conflict created by the return of the Crimean Tartars who, as formerly deported persons, are returning to their homeland and assert indigenous rights in the region, which is primarily populated by ethnic Russians. The course meets weekly March-May. The 10 day field study will be split between the capital Kiev and Crimea. During the field study students will meet with a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the region, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Development Program, Foreign Service Officers at the US Embassy, USAID, local activists working on tolerance and peace education programs, and the Crimean Tartar leadership. In addition to the meetings, students will have the opportunity to visit a number of historically significant sites. In Kiev this includes a visit to two UNESCO World Heritage sites and the internationally acclaimed WWII museum. In Crimea students will visit two palaces, including Tsar Nikolai II’s palace, site of the Yalta conference at the end of WWII, as well as Sevastopol, “Hero City” and the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
The Road to Santiago: Spiritual Journey or Physical Challenge (GFS381.7)
Location: Lugo to Sanitago de Compostela, Spain; May 17-27.
Students in this course will undertake a portion of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We will be starting in the province of Lugo (Sarria) and walking 70 miles in 7 days which is the least amount of distance to still get official credit in Spain and a certificate for having walked the Road to Santiago. Students will be provided with a training schedule and a group trainer 2-3x during the semester to make sure that they are in optimal physical shape to begin the endeavor. This pilgrimage was, and is, one of the holiest journeys dating from the Middle Ages. Current participants speak of the discovery of spirituality, the connection with nature, and a way to meet people from all over the world. We will be staying in hostels set up along the route which have been established for this very purpose. We will end the journey at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and spend two days discovering the wonder of this World Heritage Site. The total time of the trip will be 10 days.
Social Justice in the U.S. and Ghana (GFS381.1/GFS481.1)
Location: Ghana; May 18-27.
This course introduces the struggles for freedom from oppression among people of African descent. Through interdisciplinary study and travel to Ghana, we will examine the sociopolitical contexts of Ghana and the United States for people of the African diaspora and contemporary social issues related to education, poverty and cultural identity. The course will include a local experience with members of an African centered educational institution, Imhotep Institute Charter High School, members of the local Ghanaian community living in Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and travel to Accra, Cape Coast, Legon, Kumasi and the Volta Region in Ghana where we will experience Ghanaian culture and complete a service project in a local school and NGO serving women and children. Central to our work will be the investigation of the elements of social change exemplified through strategies for liberation in the African diaspora.