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May Term Travel


This three-week period is time for intensive study into one topic or research project. These international experiences include opportunities to experience music, art, and culture in Spain, take a photographic journey through Ireland, and so much more. Email International Education Director Jay Wilkinson with any questions or interest.

Morocco: The Legacy of Colonialism
Explore the effects of colonialism on contemporary Morocco through on-campus lectures and two weeks of observation in urban and rural Morocco. Lectures provide a brief history of Morocco and an overview of Western influence on contemporary Moroccan society. Learn how inequality is created and sustained by colonial and post-colonial social forces (economic, legal, and cultural), and how inequality emerges within and between nations in a globalizing world. Complete short quizzes, a pre-travel essay, interfolio photo project, and reflective journal. Destinations include Casablanca on the coast, Marrakesh in the High Atlas Mountains, and at least one rural village where we will complete a service project.

Asia and the Pacific region
What’s a Wat?: Understanding Business and Culture in Thailand and Vietnam
In this travel course, gain firsthand experience with the cultural, religious, and economic realities of Thailand and Vietnam. Visit U.S.-based and local businesses operating in SE Asia, tiny market stalls lining the streets, and temples where worship intersects with daily life. See up close how and why things work in these ancient countries, which are trying to find their places in a modern, entrepreneurial, and global economy. Through preparatory work, learn about the cultural, political, economic, religious, and business backgrounds, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit in both countries.

New Zealand
New Zealand through Photography
As a country about twice the size of Iowa, New Zealand offers an incredible array of breathtaking landscapes: mountains, glaciers, beaches, fjords, plains, and volcanoes. Explore the country through photography, capturing the diverse geography through hands-on learning. Through photo assignments, learn new perspectives, manual photography skills, and Adobe Photoshop technique while gaining insight into the Maori culture. Note: Students must provide their own photography equipment.

Central or South America or the Caribbean
Costa Rica: Health and Education as a Human Right
Costa Rica, known for its natural beauty, differs from its neighbors in its passion for human rights. What’s unique about the historical, economic, and cultural forces that elevate healthcare and education as human rights? Understand these forces through experiences with Costa Ricans and the growing immigrant populations and engagement with government leaders, activists, and educators. Readings and reflective discussions during the pre-course will provide a foundation for in-country journaling, conversations, and experiences. Students proficient in Spanish will help others practice conversational Spanish so all can fully enjoy the hospitality of our “Tico” hosts during our rural homestay.

Saints, Heretics and Witches in Medieval Ireland
This course explores changing perceptions of gender, power, and the sacred in medieval Ireland, with contemporary applications, particularly regarding issues of diversity and inclusion. Write a short and long paper, due at the end of term, and give a brief presentation on the longer paper topic during our last days in Ireland. Write short reflections on the required reading during the prep course, as well as journal reflections during our time in Ireland.

Renaissance and Reformation in Italy: Florence and Rome
The Renaissance-Reformation marks the beginning of Europe’s modern era. The Renaissance represents the reawakening of the classical world and its transformation into innovative ideas while the Reformation saw a revitalization of Catholicism in its own much overlooked reform movement. The heart of both movements was in Italy, particularly Florence and Rome. These two cities represent many of the facets of the Renaissance-Reformation period, like culture, education, politics, religion, and trade. Through exploration, gain greater insight into how western civilization transformed itself from the medieval ‘dark’ ages into the modern. Activities will include a directed journal as well as a short paper and oral presentation.

Walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain
The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage route that traces the path that St. James took to Spain as part of his crusade. This route remains sacred to modern pilgrims and provides an opportunity for deep reflection and spiritual growth, regardless of one’s religious affiliation. Walk a portion of the Camino and develop personal goals for your pilgrimage. Readings range from medieval to modern day documentation (fiction and nonfiction) of pilgrimage. Prior to departure, create a personalized pilgrimage plan and keep a reflective journal. This course is physically demanding, requiring up to 16 miles of walking per day over rough terrain.

Music in Italy and Austria with Music at Simpson
Western Europe, particularly Austria and Italy, has been exemplary in its continuous patronage of music and musicians. Explore the historically significant sites in the development of Western Music, the modern manifestation of musical patronage, and how musicians are giving back through children’s outreach and refugee support throughout Italy and Austria. Present a 20 minute in-class presentation, complete several reading assignments and accompanying reflections, keep an instructor-guided journal of the travel experience, and participate in cultural exchange assignments and opportunities while traveling. Note: Participation in or attendance at choral performances will be expected of all travel participants.

Paris: Turning Points in French History
Paris. There is no other city quite like it anywhere in the world—cutting-edge, yet steeped in tradition and history. Follow in the footsteps of several colorful characters from the time of kings, queens, castles, and palaces, in places like the Louvre, Versailles, Fontainebleau, and some castles of the Loire Valley. Love affairs, bloody massacres, royal court gossip, assassinations, and some pretty eccentric people will all come alive as we study three key events in the period of French history from the Renaissance to the Revolution. The May Term portion of the course includes 10 days in Paris and the surrounding area, as well as class sessions on campus before and after traveling. Graded work will include a photo journal project, a book presentation, and a final learning assessment.

A Photographic Tour of Ireland
The creative act of photography and the experience of recording images in a foreign location will stimulate self-awareness as you learn proper composition, contrast, technical quality, artistic message, and Adobe Photoshop image editing. Other key components to the course include class presentations about the history, physical environment and culture of Ireland. Gain understanding and insight into some of the unique qualities of the Irish culture through talking with Irish artists and visiting Irish educational institutions.