Penn Global Seminars Course Offerings by Term

Applications for offerings in Spring 2024 will open in alignment with advance registration on October 30 and close on November 13. You are invited to join our mailing list to receive course updates, reminders, events, and notices regarding application deadlines.

Fall 2023-Spring 2024

Travel Over Winter Break 2023 

Darwin’s Laboratory: History, Philosophy, Evolution and Social Ecology in the Galápagos Archipelago 
Dr. Michael Weisberg, Philosophy; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Galápagos
Charles Darwin's first impression of the Galápagos was not a positive one. Upon landing on San Cristóbal Island, he was underwhelmed, commenting that the island reminded him of "what we might imagine cultivated parts of the Infernal regions to be." But Darwin quickly recognized that the Galápagos is a unique place to study geology and natural history. We will follow in his footsteps, studying ecology, evolution, and the natural history of Galápagos, along with the growing impact of humans on this fragile place. The course will culminate in a visit to the Galápagos archipelago to examine first-hand the issues and theories discussed throughout the seminar.

Health and the Healthcare System in Chile
Dr. Eileen Lake, Biobehavioral Health Sciences; School of Nursing
Travel to Chile

This seminar provides interdisciplinary perspectives on health and illness in Chile, health system organization and financing, the health workforce, national health priorities, strategies, and recent reforms. Penn faculty in nursing, sociology, demography, economics, and Wharton share their expertise. The winter break field experience, which is summertime in Chile, focuses on health services delivery in metropolitan Santiago, including visits to a public and a private hospital, a primary care center, and a geriatric institute. Chile's unique political and economic history provides the context for its current healthcare system and challenges.  Therefore, we also visit cultural sites, notably the homes of the Nobel poet Pablo Neruda, the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, the bustling port city and bay of Valparaiso, and historic and government sites in the city of Santiago.

Exploring Traditional Chinese Medicine | China Education Initiative
Dr. Jianghong Liu; School of Nursing
Travel to China

This course, which is supported by Penn’s China Education Initiative, introduces students to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a specific form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The course will cover introductory principles on TCM theory, common therapies, and efficacy of this practice. The first component of the class will meet on-campus every other week through lectures, discussions, and demonstrations with Penn professors and experienced TCM practitioners. The cohort will participate in a local field trip in the Philadelphia area for clinical observation. The second part of the course will involve travel to Shanghai, China, in which there will be guest lectures by TCM professors and practitioners, clinical observations at Longhua Hospital affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and other immersive experiences.

Travel Over Spring Break 2024

Writing Health and Healing in Botswana 
Dr. Sara Byala, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences and Dr. Rebecca Tenney-Soeiro, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia 
Travel to Botswana
Fulfills Writing Seminar Requirement. Priority will be given to first-year students, but all students who have not yet taken a writing seminar are eligible to apply.
This writing seminar investigates health and healing in contemporary Botswana and will include travel to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Botswana partnerships in Gaborone. Using a case study of a hospital ward in Gaborone as its primary text, students will investigate and write white papers that speak to areas of interest to partners on the ground whom we will then visit. In collaboration with CHOP, students will learn about medical narratives and medical writing. This seminar follows the curriculum of all writing seminars, so that significant attention will be devoted to peer review and revision in the interest of producing multiple authentic genres. The course will focus on creating a set of transferable writing skills that are informed by real world writing experiences that transcend the global north/south divide.

Palermo: Empires, Migrations, and Mafia 
Dr. Domenic Vitiello, Urban Studies Program from Weitzman School of Design
Travel to Italy
This seminar explores Palermo across its many eras of colonization, imperial rule, and especially the migration and settlement of diverse peoples from Africa and Asia. Today the fifth largest city in Italy, Palermo was founded by Phoenician traders and over time has been one of the most “conquered” cities in the world, ruled by Carthaginians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish, briefly the British and Americans, and finally the nation of Italy. It was also home to Greeks, Jews, and other migrants, and slaves of various races and ethnicities, and has been Sicily’s capital for over a thousand years. Since the mid-19th century, the city and region of Palermo have also been the center of the Sicilian and transatlantic mafia. Palermo is today a diverse immigrant city, with communities of people from North and West Africa, South and East Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, some of whom work in sectors still controlled by the mafia. In recent years Palermo has also been one of most welcoming cities in the world, what Americans call a "sanctuary city." Leaders of the Association of Diasporas for Peace will be our partners in the city, helping the class engage with migrant communities and their civil society organizations.

Paris under the German Occupation and Its Places in [Non-] Memory
Mélanie Péron, French and Francophone Studies; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to France
This seminar will aim to understand the dark historical period of WWII France through the study of the visible and invisible traces left on French memory and the Parisian landscape. The class will start by studying the conventional history of Vichy France, then turn to the writers who testified of that time, some as victims, others as witnesses or coming from the post-memory generation. Each of them has, in his or her own way, tried to find the words to fill the places of non-memory. The course will be open to French speakers and non-French speakers alike and will feature two recitation sections: one in French and one in translation. The travel component will feature visits to key sites of the German occupation and trace the lives of the key Parisian residents whose first-person accounts make up the bulk of the course readings.

Travel in May 2024

Spain: From Civil War to Post-Francoism, 1930-2020
Dr. Antonio Feros, Department of History; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Spain
This course will focus on three moments in the history of Spain that are fundamental to understanding the constant political debates in our current societies about how a country should remember and commemorate its history. The reality is that we live in a moment in which the past is more present than ever. The debates, sometimes violent, in the USA about Confederate monuments and symbols; the publication of critical comparative studies, such as the extraordinary work of Susan Neiman Learning from the Germans; or the considerable number, every day larger, of works on historical memory in many countries and regions, from Germany to Argentina, the former Yugoslavia, Japan, to the United States and Spain. In Spain, debates about the past and how the country remembers and celebrates have become central to struggles about government and the future of democracy. This course is structured into three parts. Part I centers on the Spanish CIVIL WAR, 1936-1939. Part II will focus on the consequences of the Civil War (1939-1975), both from internal and international perspectives. Part III will pay attention to the period 1975-2022, paying particular attention to debates about how the country should remember the Civil War, what type of sites of memory to conserve and build, and the importance and political and social effects of several essential laws - the 1977 Amnesty Law and the 2007 and 2022 Historical Memory Laws. This last section will prepare the class for the trip to Spain in May.

Case Studies in Environmental Sustainability
Dr. Alain Plante, Department of Earth and Environmental Science; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Iceland
This course aims to introduce students to myriad Earth and environmental issues (understanding how humans interact, affect and are influenced by our environment) through the analysis of several environmental cases studies, as well as giving students an introduction to how complex cases are analyzed and what goes into decision-making at the individual, group, state, federal and global levels. Students will select, research and present a case study on an environmental topic specific to Iceland. Potential case study topics within environmental sustainability can span the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. At the end of the semester, case studies will be put into practice during the field trip through site visits with local university faculty and practitioners.

Tourism, Sustainability and Local Impact in Indonesia
Dr. Helen Jeoung, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Indonesia
Fulfills Writing Seminar Requirement. Priority will be given to first-year students, but all students (except graduating seniors) who have not yet taken a writing seminar are eligible to apply.
In this writing seminar we focus on Indonesia as a window into the complex dynamics and impacts of tourism. Many visitors travel to Bali and other Indonesian destinations for cultural exploration, adventure tourism or beach vacations. The tourism industry supports the local economy and promotes cultural heritage, yet tourism in Indonesia has an uneasy relationship with local culture and environmental sustainability. We explore these issues by reading The Changing World of Bali by Leo Howe, and students pursue subsequent research and writing in related topics. The course also includes travel to Bali at the end of the semester. We will connect with local institutions to hear local perspectives on the tourism industry, and visit a range of tourist sites, including religious temples, hotels, beaches, and open-air markets.

Korean Language & Culture (Beginning Korean II and Intermediate Korean II)
Dr. Siwon Lee & Haewon Cho, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Korea
Offered at both the Beginning II and Intermediate II levels, these Global seminar courses are designed to develop students’ linguistic and cultural competence in Korean. Under the overarching theme of exploring Korea’s past and present, students will have an ample opportunity to explore and engage in the use of real language and the learning of cultural perspectives, practices, and products. In addition, students will work on a bilingual mini research project with language partners on a topic of their choice related to various aspects of Korean culture and society (e.g., history, language, architecture, music, art, food, etc.). The travel components include various cultural sites, historical monuments, museums, exhibits, and educational institution(s) to explore and develop an in-depth understanding of Korea’s past and present. Students who are interested in taking this seminar must complete Beginning Korean I or Intermediate Korean I in the preceding fall or exhibit equivalent proficiency as measured by the placement test.

Sacred Stuff: Religious Bodies, Places, and Objects
Dr. Donovan Schaefer, Department of Religious Studies; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to the United Kingdom
Does religion start with what's in our heads? Or are religious commitments made, shaped, and strengthened by the people, places, and things around us? This course will explore how religion happens in the material world. We'll start with classical and contemporary theories on the relationship of religion to stuff. We'll then consider examples of how religion is animated not just by books, but through interactions with objects, spaces, bodies, monuments, color, design, architecture, and film. We'll ask how these material expressions of religion move beyond private faith and connect religion to politics and identity.

The Great War in Memoir and Memory
Dr. Warren Breckman, Department of History; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to France
For all who passed through it, the Great War was transformative, presenting a profound rupture in world history and personal experience alike. It was a war that unleashed an unprecedented outpouring of memoirs and poetic and fictional accounts written by participants. In its wake, it also produced new forms of public commemoration and memorialization—tombs to the unknown soldier, great monuments, soldiers’ cemeteries, solemn days of remembrance, and the like. One hundred years after World War One, this course will explore the war through the intersection of these processes of personal and public memory, focusing on the Western Front. This will not be a seminar in military or diplomatic history, but rather an exploration of personal experiences of the War, representations of experience, and the cultural and political dimensions of memory. Travel to France will include visits to preserved battlefields, various national war monuments, and several WWI museums, as well as opportunities to interface with French historians, museum directors, and local residents.

Scientific Nationalism in Japan
Dr. John Kehayias, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Japan
Fulfills Writing Seminar Requirement. Priority will be given to first-year students, but all students (except graduating seniors) who have not yet taken a writing seminar are eligible to apply.
This course will follow the same rigorous curriculum, assessment process, and standards as all critical writing seminars. Modern Japan has an international reputation as an economic power at the forefront of technology and scientific development. However, this has been a recent direction for the country, born during a period of intense nationalism in World War II. The course will seek to understand the development of science in Japan, the nature of political, scientific, and wartime discourse, and the interplay between science and nationalism. Is there an inherent conflict between nationalistic goals and the international and universal nature of scientific development? How did Japan quickly transition from its strong grounding in traditional mythology to a modern and "scientific" nation? How is Japan's current status as an international leader in science and technology built from its wartime past, and what does that mean for the future? What is the role of science in nationalism? These are some of the questions that will be explored in this writing seminar. Travel to Japan will include a number of relevant site visits like international laboratories, scientific experiments, and cultural sites. Students will have the opportunity to speak with administrators and Japanese and non-Japanese researchers in a variety of fields on the current nature of science in Japan and its relationship with Japanese culture.

Seeing/Hearing Globally Indigenous Music and the Arts of Healing 
Dr. Carol Muller, Department of Music; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Australia
This course will explore issues of culture, politics, history, and heritage of four indigenous communities: Native Americans in the United States, Indigenous Canadians, Kalahari Bushmen in southern Africa, and Aboriginals in Australia. Students will experience a diversity of views and perspectives on Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing, which will be infused with exposure to various forms of Indigenous art, music, and cultural expression. Students will have the unique opportunity to attend lectures and site visits in Australia. Travel to Australia will include visiting with Aboriginal communities and meetings with local musicians and artists to gain a deeper understanding of their culture and history.

Chinese Language (Intermediate II and Advanced Modern II)
Dr. Jiajia Wang & Shihui Fan,Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to China
This is a Chinese language course with a field study component, which is designed to put students’ linguistic skills to use as well as to deepen their understanding of contemporary China through first-hand experience. The curricula of the language training are the same as the regular CHIN 0800 Advanced Chinese II and CHIN 0400 Intermediate Chinese II courses. Students have an option to choose CHIN 0801 or CHIN 0401, depending on their linguistic proficiency and previous training in the target language. The field study travel incorporates a 10-day visit to Beijing and Qufu (曲阜 the hometown of Confucius) in Shandong Province in late May 2023. The proposal of two cities—the capital and a 4th-tier city—would provide social context for students to observe, compare and evaluate contemporary China’s daily life and work, economy and urbanization, infrastructure and technology, education, preservation of tradition, etc. Students will meet local college students in both cities and exchange ideas with their contemporary Chinese peers.

American Race: A Philadelphia Story
Dr. Fariha I. Khan, Asian American Studies Program, School of Arts and Sciences & Fernando Chang-Muy, JD, Penn Carey Law
Travel to Greece
This introductory course frames the academic study of race in the United States through a multi-disciplinary approach with a focus on international law, U.S. law, and the lived experience in Philadelphia. Specific themes on race are analyzed through readings and class discussions with local community leaders, scholars, and activists. The historical and contemporary overview introduces key concepts of race and racialization in relation to U.S. and international laws, key theoretical methodologies, and major scholarly works. The course will also offer a specialized international focus on Greece as a case study.  “American Race: A Philadelphia Story” has been supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Paideia Program, which serves as a hub for civic dialogue in undergraduate education at Penn. 

Exploring the Business Environment in China, Wharton International Program | China Education Initiative
Dr. Sara Jane McCaffrey, The Wharton School
Travel to China
This Wharton International Program (WIP) course, which is supported by Penn’s China Education Initiative, is a short-term international business course that explores China’s business environment and culture. The course will focus on developing an understanding of the region’s business environment and local business practices though a variety of business site visits, lectures at Wharton partner schools, cultural excursions, and networking opportunities with undergraduate students and business contacts. This course earns 0.5 course units that can be used towards the business-breadth or elective credit for Wharton students. Non-Wharton students are also eligible to apply.

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics | China Education Initiative 
Dr. Jianbo Shi, Penn Engineering, GRASP Laboratory
Travel to China
This course, which is supported by Penn’s China Education Initiative, exposes students to recent developments in technology through an immersive project-based curriculum. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to think “out of the box” to incorporate their classwork, projects, and training to generate their own ideas for a startup. The course pairs with high school students in China, whereby Penn students are trained as mentors to these local students. During travel to China in May 2024, Penn students will connect with their mentees to work together on completing their projects. Students who are interested in taking this seminar must complete CIS 1210 Data Structures and Algorithms prior to enrolling.