Spring 2014 Preview Courses

For First Year and Transfer  |  Transfer Only

Courses for First Year Students

Athens, Greece
Money, War, and Glory in Ancient Greece

Ever dreamed of walking in the footsteps of Plato and Aristotle? How about Alexander the Great? This course focuses on the development of Greek thought and power from the 10th century BCE to the times of Alexander, spanning three different continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. Through the study of ancient literature and archaeological data, social models of interaction are analyzed providing new understanding about the establishment of the Greeks in the local communities with which they were in direct contact, as colonizers first, and as conquerors later. Students will be able to learn about the foundations of the modern social and economic models existing today in Europe and in the U.S. Some experiences in this course, centered in Athens (one of the world’s oldest cities), include: visiting the temple of Apollo, seeing the Acropolis, a day trip to Marathon, and checking out the Platonic Academy.

Bucharest, Romania
Cultural Crossover and Change

For millennia Romania has been poised at the crossroads of Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans and thus subject to constant invasions and occupations. The result is an incredibly resilient people who are a multicultural mix of ethnic Romanians, Hungarians, the Roma, and people of many other races, ethnicities, and nationalities. With the end of communist rule just over twenty years ago, Romania is undergoing rapid changes in every sphere of human activity. This course will examine the fascinating cultural crossroads and changing nation that is Romania today. P.S. Transylvania became a part of Romania in 1918, and that’s where Dracula got his start! Some activities will include: a visit to Galati to tour Danubius University, visiting Brasov to check out Dracula’s Castle, and exploring the capital city of Bucharest (nicknamed “Little Paris”).

Havana, Cuba
Cuba: Myths and Realities

Since the 1800s Americans have long been obsessed with Cuba in complicated and changing ways. This course will examine the many transformations in U.S.-Cuban relations with particular focus on the perceptions and representations that frame American public discourse about Cuba. Using film, text, experiential activities and cultural visits, students will examine the rich complexities, realities, and mythologies of this island nation. Students will receive lectures from faculty at the University of Havana and visit many exciting destinations such as the Jose Marti Museum and Memorial, the Bellas Artes Museum, Fuster’s Workshop, and Varadero Beach.

Galway, Ireland
The Arts, Music, Culture, and People of the West

The West of Ireland is an enchanting place filled with ‘typical’ Irish towns and villages, long stretches of stunning coastline, soaring sea cliffs, and craggy countryside that boasts a uniquely desolate beauty and a vibrant cultural heritage rich in tradition. Students will be introduced to Western Irish history, culture, music, arts and its engaging people. Students will learn about the interconnected relationship of Irish immigration and American history, as well as the specific nature of Ireland’s West. By exploring the city of Galway (“Ireland’s Cultural Heart”), one of the Aran Islands, and the Burren, students will be exposed to three very different environments that are within a 100 mile radius of each other.

Dublin, Ireland and Belfast, Northern Ireland
So You Think You Are Irish?

Ireland today is divided by differences in politics, belief, and self-identity; but the sameness in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland truly helps to shape the concept of what it means to be Irish. Examining what unites and divides these two halves of the island helps to provide a greater understanding of Irish identity. Focusing on history, literature, cultural studies, music, and art, this course will offer reflective insight into Irishness and why 80 million people around the world look to this small island as their ancestral home. While visiting Ireland, students will be engaged with firsthand experiences in both the Republic of Ireland (centered in Dublin) and Northern Ireland (primarily in Belfast). Excursions will include a walking tour of Dublin, lectures on modern Irish history, attendance at a play, visit to the Irish parliament, lecture and tour of Belfast, and a tour of Celtic ruins outside of Dublin.

Zacapa and Antigua, Guatemala
Education and Service in Guatemala

Interested in service learning? This course is an introduction to Guatemalan culture through interdisciplinary study and travel with a focus on the sociopolitical relationship between Guatemala and the United States. Students prepare for and take a trip to Zacapa and Antigua in Guatemala where they work with the service organization Hearts In Motion (www.heartsinmotion.org). Preparation includes learning about the nature of cultural difference, the process of acculturation and the relationship of this study to the personal experience of travel. Students will also be placed in a semester long cultural experience in the Latino community in Philadelphia.

London, UK
British Popular Culture: Past and Present

Have you dreamed of riding the Tube, exploring Notting Hill, touring a Premier League stadium, or talking face to face with British students? This course will consider multiple aspects of British culture from contemporary and historical perspectives. Topics to be covered include: advertising and consumer culture; sports; multicultural society; music; the role of history in contemporary life; and the culture of everyday life. The program will be based in London, with daily excursions to explore the city. Our time in London will be spent visiting a variety of cultural sites, with students also engaging in independent observation. There will be an opportunity to meet with British university students to discuss their educational experiences and cultural matters.

London, UK
Get Your Groove On: Exploring the Urban Music Scene in London and Philadelphia

This course will provide an in depth comparative experience in both the London and Philadelphia music scenes. In the classes before the travel component, students will begin by discussing the history and types of music that are found in the urban music scenes in London and Philadelphia. Students will explore the historical, political, and social events, trends, and forces that have influenced the music scenes in these two cities. Students will then choose one genre of music (e.g., soul, hip hop, or electronica) and will attend a show in the Philadelphia area. They will present in groups on the genre of music as well as their experiences at the show. Students will also learn how the social climate, politics and economics have impacted the music scene. During their time in London, students will again attend a music show and will visit a variety of places related to the music scene (e.g., radio stations, recording studios, magazines, etc). A day trip to Manchester is also planned. Students will make a comparison between their experiences in Philadelphia and London/Manchester.

Madrid and Toledo, Spain
Tradition and Modernity

In order to participate in the rapidly changing world, students need to understand and speak other languages, engage with other cultures, and have a global perspective. Spain has become a land of extraordinary paradoxes in which traditional attitudes and contemporary preoccupations co-exist. Students will focus on issues which affect ordinary Spaniards such as nationalism, belief and Church, women, family values and home truths, social issues: immigration, racism, spousal abuse, changing traditions: flamenco and bullfighting, etc). The class will use the first half of the semester to study the recent history of Spain and different cultural aspects of Spain (food, customs, traditions, etc). Students will also learn travel vocabulary, how to interact in everyday situations such as: greetings, going shopping, order in restaurant, asking for information, etc. During Spring Break the class will travel to those cities to put new Spanish-speaking skills and cultural knowledge to practice.

Rome, Italy
Classic and Renaissance Rome through Poetry and Art

In this course, students will gain familiarity with the basic history of Rome as an ancient society, its decline with the Middle Ages, and its revival under the early Papacy in the Renaissance. Via visits to such famous sites as the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, Piazza del Populo, Basilica San Clemente, and the Pantheon, students will gain first-hand knowledge and will be able to relate their impressions through the readings and art study with their experience. Readings will include excerpts from ancient texts, books on Roman history and art history, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Seoul, South Korea
Visual Awareness: Art and Culture of South Korea

South Korea is a place where 5,000 years of history and culture harmoniously coincide with high-tech 21st century living. During the preview, students will experience major attractions of South Korea’s capital city, Seoul (Buddhist temples, historical palaces, villages, local markets, Gangnam district), and observe its contemporary and traditional art scenes. In this course, students will gain a deeper relationship to an unfamiliar place, both in terms of art and culture, by focusing on visual elements, experience, and awareness. It is about seeing differently. Every place has a unique schema of colors, shapes, and forms in its art and cultural environment. Using a diverse and interdisciplinary approach, this course begins with classroom practice and study of visual elements (i.e. color, shape, and form), as seen through the lens of specific sites/venues in South Korea

Shanghai and Xian, China
A Tale of Two Cities: Changing Urban Landscapes

Much has been written about the rapid changes and frenetic development of China’s metropolitan areas. This course will explore how this has evolved and its effects on socio-economic conditions, the environment, education, architecture and the arts. We will spend time in the Chinese commercial capital, Shanghai. This city of 27 million inhabitants is mesmerizing for its modernity, stunning architecture and global focus. We shall also visit a “small” city in northeastern China – Qingdao – only eight million! Qingdao is affectionately known as China's most livable city because of its clean air, appealing architecture, recreational activities, favorable economic conditions and seaside location.

Tokyo, Japan
Japan, the Old Heritage and Anime World

Japan: The Land of the Rising Sun… a country that has preserved its heritage while it has moved forward, put itself on the edge of modern technology and become one of the leaders of world trade. Although Japan is smaller than the state of California, it has the world’s third largest economy. Students will have the opportunity to learn first-hand, in the classroom and on the road, what makes Tokyo, and some of the historic areas surrounding that capital city, tick. They will be exposed to daily life including Japanese the public transportation system, learn common daily spoken expressions, and have the opportunity to shop, view arts over the eras, explore current music trends, view anime and see samples of some of today’s newest technology.

Courses Open to Both First Year and Transfer Students

Monteverde, Costa Rica
Nature, Bilingualism, and Education at Home and in the Cloud Forest

In order to participate fully in the world, students need to understand and speak other languages, engage with other cultures, and take a global perspective on the natural world. This preview course is especially designed with future educators in mind and aims to give students local and international experiences with Spanish/English bilingualism in community and educational contexts, opportunities to interact with others across cultures, and engagement with ecosystems and environmental education in contrasting locations. Students will be able to compare and contrast languages, environments, and educational approaches in Philadelphia and a Cloud Forest in Costa Rica while engaging with community members over time. Activities during the spring break portion of the course will include: volunteer experiences in schools and community education programs, homestays with Costa Rican families for part of the week, informal interactions with local college-age students, guided tours of the cloud forest and an organic coffee farm and Latin dance lessons.

Vienna and Salzburg, Austria
Music and Culture in Austria

The music and culture of Austria will be examined from multiple perspectives and disciplines but will focus on music. Most of the Preview will be experienced in Vienna, Austria’s capital and music center with an overnight trip to Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart. Students will learn about the cultural and musical history of Vienna and Salzburg and the key musical influences that have inspired others all over the world. Class lectures and assignments will prepare students to make the most of their experiences in two of the most famous cities in the world. Weekly lessons in German will assist students with basic vocabulary skills in these German speaking cities. Although many residents speak English, you will find you will be greeted warmly if you at least try to greet the residents in German. Some highlights may include: city walking tours, a trip to the opera, High Mass and Vienna Boys Choir performance, Freud Museum, Art History Museum, Mozart’s birth house, and a Sound of Music tour. Students need no prior musical knowledge; the only necessity is a love of music.

Granada, Spain and Tangiers, Morocco
Spain and Morocco at a Crossroads

This course explores how the south Iberian Peninsula’s history and imperial past have brought together Arabic, African, Spanish, French and Berber languages, cultures, arts and architectural styles to create a conglomerated, rich cultural tradition unique to the area. Students will visit two cities: Granada, Spain and Tangiers, Morrocco, and will explore the way in which the arts (architecture, writing, music, folk crafts, painting...) have become a locus where culture is negotiated and combined to give this area of the world its distinctive cultural flavor, beginning as far back as the ancient period.

Florence, Italy
History, Culture and Cuisine: Tuscany in Italian and International Context

Description forthcoming. 

Course for Transfer Students Only

Sicily, Italy
The Sea is Not My Home: Immigration, Migration, and Social Justice in the Sicilian Context

People are crossing borders now than ever before, with no letup in sight. Immigration and migration is inextricably linked with other global issues such as human rights, poverty, development and social justice. Immigrants often possess an entrepreneurial spirit and, as seen in the united States, have been proven to be dynamic members of society. In contrast, many countries in Europe are experiencing immigrants, migrants and refugees in unprecedented numbers. Often, the human rights of those crossing borders are being violated, as immigrants are unwanted, particularly in light of the European economy. This class will examine the lives' of immigrants, migrants and refugees and the challenges they face in their new country of Sicily against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful and historic cities in all of Italy: Siracusa. Full of ancient Greek and Arab culture, this port city has been the site of some of earliest migrations, indeed, before it even had such a name! When the class travels to the Bel Paese (the Beautiful Country) they will see the way centuries of invasion and migration have influenced and added a unique mix to the local culture and how it is still changing today.

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