Penn Global Seminars Course Offerings by Term

The deadline for PGS Spring 2023 has passed. Applications for offerings in Fall 2023 will open in alignment with advance registration during the spring semester. You are invited to join our mailing list to receive future course updates, reminders, events, and notices regarding application deadlines. 

Spring 2023

Travel Over Spring Break 2023

Cairo as Palimpsest (WRIT 0120 302) 
Dr. Fayyaz Vellani, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Egypt
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 first-year writing seminar provides in-depth engagement with the city of Cairo through an examination of its cultural and geopolitical landscapes. Based on the concept of the palimpsest in urbanism, this course studies contemporary Cairo with a view to tracing the multiple layers of history which permeate the city. With more than 21 million inhabitants, Metropolitan Cairo is the most populous urban agglomeration in Africa, the most populous Arab city, and the sixth-largest city in the world by population. Founded by the Fatimid Caliphate in 969, Cairo has been a seat of power for empires including the Ayyubids, Mamluks, Ottomans, French, and British. Each of these eras has left an indelible mark on Cairo, suffusing the city with a richly cosmopolitan flavor. Greater Cairo is home to world-famous monuments including the Giza pyramid complex, the ancient city of Memphis, numerous Islamic architectural splendors, and Belle Epoque-style grand boulevards. This course examines the intersection of these various facets of Cairo, including visits to the aforementioned sites, connecting the city’s cultural scene to its multi-dimensional, living history.

Global Radiation History: Living in the Atomic Age 1945-Present (STSC 3185 and HSOC 3185) 
Dr. M. Susan Lindee, History and Sociology of Science; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Japan
In this seminar, students will engage with broad experiences of radiation risk since 1945, of Navajo uranium miners, scientists producing and testing nuclear weapons, physicians studying those exposed to radiation, Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings, and of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and others.  We will read novels and poetry relating to the atomic bombings and other radiation incidents, consider the protracted and complex ethical debate about nuclear risk, meet with artists who have contributed to the public debate, participate in meetings with survivors and scientists, museum professionals, activists, and others, and work together to come to understand the impact of the atomic bombs, the rise of nuclear energy, and the continuing legacies of radiation exposure and risk today. 

Comparative Cultures of Resilience and Sustainability in the Netherlands and the United States (GRMN 1151 and URBS 1151)
Dr. Simon Richter, 
Germanic Languages and Literatures; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to the Netherlands
Coastal and riverside cities worldwide are under increasing pressure from sea level rise and other effects of climate change. Resilience and sustainability are paradigmatic concepts for the ways in which cities address them and their impacts on water, food, energy, and housing. This course focuses on the cultural side of resilience and sustainability in four notable cities: Rotterdam (with areas 6 meters below sea level), Nijmegen (which has devised a new way to live with a major river), New York City (which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy), and New Orleans (one of the most vulnerable American cities). Of course, other cities (Amsterdam, Arnhem, Boston, The Hague, Houston, Miami, as well as cities from the Global South such as Jakarta) will also come into play. In deeply uncertain times, cities such as these confront an array of interconnected choices that involve not only infrastructural solutions, but priorities, values, and cultural predispositions. Ideally, the strategies that cities devise are generated through inclusive processes based on the understanding that resilience and sustainability should be grounded in the cultural life of their communities. When this is the case, resilience and sustainability can become unique and motivating narratives about how cities and their residents co-develop the kinds of hard, soft, and social infrastructure the climate emergency requires. With this in mind, we will analyze climate action plans and resilience strategies; explore cultural histories relative to flooding events; and consult with Dutch and American experts in climate adaptation, governance, community development, and design. The highlight of the course will be travel to the Netherlands during spring break for site visits and discussions with experts.

Travel in May 2023

Information Communication Technologies for Development (PSCI 2103)
Dr. Guy Grossman, Political Science, School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Uganda
The seminar will focus on the role that innovations in Information Communication Technologies can play in improving development outcomes in low-income countries, and focuses especially on the promises and perils of utilizing mobile technologies and GIS for better governance: to improve citizen voice and government accountability.

Becoming Zimbabwe (WRIT 0120 301)
Dr. Sara Byala, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to South Africa
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 explore how and why so many Zimbabweans have migrated to South Africa. It will further investigate the two paths this move has taken, the legal route and the far more common illegal route, often typified by border jumping. Putting this southward migration in the context of historic patterns of migration towards South Africa (and its mines and industry) the class will query what this pattern reveals about struggles in contemporary Zimbabwe and what immigrants’ experiences reveal about contemporary struggles in South Africa. Each student will research and write an individual white paper on a topic of his/her choosing followed by an op-ed that derives in part from the white paper to speak to an issue of contemporary relevance. This course will follow the same rigorous curriculum, assessment process, and standards as all critical writing seminars. This curriculum ensures that students learn real-world writing genres, including a literature review and an op-ed. This means that students dive deeply into individual topics, becoming mini experts on them by the end. Students will aim their public arguments at Zimbabwean and/or broader African audiences and topics, thereby enhancing both their knowledge of the genre and their engagement with contemporary African debates. The course topic is such that student work may also come to see Zimbabwean migration and immigration struggles as a case study for larger theoretical questions around legality, borders, and nationalism. In South Africa, we will visit several sites that render migration visible and meet with a range of migrants. Several visits will include writing, extending students’ knowledge of writing in different settings.

Communicating Change in Mongolia (WRIT 0120 303)
Dr. Aurora MacRae-Crerar, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Mongolia
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.
Mongolia is experiencing monumental change. This landlocked country is becoming hotter and drier faster than most other places on the planet. Along with the climate, Mongolian culture is dramatically changing. For millennia, nomadic herding across the expansive steppe has been the central way of life. Now, the country is experiencing unprecedented urbanization rates, with over half of Mongolians moving to cities within the past thirty years. Such drastic changes make Mongolia an invaluable window into the hotter, more urbanized future facing as all across the globe. In this writing seminar, we will hone our science communication skills across international borders in order to explore the intertwined effects of climate and culture in Mongolia and beyond. Students participate in collaborative work with individuals, classes, and organizations outside of Penn.

Disability Rights and Oppression: Experiences within Global Deaf Communities (ASLD 1039-680)
Dr. Jami Fisher, Linguistics; School of Arts and Sciences

Travel to Italy
This course explores the linguistic and social statuses of global Deaf communities. It utilizes the Italian Deaf community as a framework for understanding its quest for national recognition of their sign language (LIS) and their continued efforts toward parity with hearing people. Topics to be explored include the following: an overview of the cultural model of being Deaf; the social and historical underpinnings of Deaf people’s oppression and marginalization by hearing people; social construction of deafness as disability and Deaf-as-asset (Deaf-Gain); sign language as a human right; and language policy and practice as it relates to Deaf people’s access to or restriction from learning a sign language as a first language. The course will use first-hand accounts via text and film to elucidate a variety of global Deaf perspectives. Travel to Italy will bring the theoretical topics discussed in the semester to life via the following experiential activities: academic and social interactions with Italian Deaf community members; visits to sites important to Italian Deaf people and their history; intensive beginner LIS instruction to facilitate direct conversation with Italian Deaf community members.  No previous sign language experience is required to take this course.  

Malagasy (Elementary II MALG 0201 680 and Intermediate II MALG 0401 680 ): Language in a Cultural Context
Travis Aldous, Esquire (JD), Penn Language Center; School of Arts and Sciences
Alex Delbar, Penn Language Center; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel Madagascar
Offered at both the Elementary II and Intermediate II levels, these classes will create a communicative language environment where students will explore the language and culture of Madagascar. These courses offer a unique opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of an island that has remained largely isolated from the rest of the world while fulfilling a language requirement. Emphasis will be placed on exposing students to Malagasy culture through speaking, reading, writing, and listening, and students will be expected to use the target language in class as much as possible. Activities may include language exchange with Malagasy speakers, a Malagasy cuisine cooking workshop tailored to Penn students, and a visit to a local market to correspond with market vendors. Students who are interested in taking this seminar must complete Malagasy Elementary I or Malagasy Intermediate I in the preceding fall. Malagasy Elementary I is available to all students. 

Robotics and Rehabilitation (ENGR 1400)
Dr. Camillo Jose Taylor, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Dr. Michelle Johnson, Perelman School of Medicine
Travel to Jamaica 

This course focuses on understanding the design of intelligent technologies and robots for community-based diagnostics and rehabilitation. To do so, topics in biomechanics, computer science, robotics and mechatronics, and human-centered design principles are covered. Beyond technology, this course explores the design processes by which diagnostics, robotics, and medical technology are developed for foreign economies, cultures, and healthcare systems. Student projects focus on understanding stakeholders needs and developing technology able to address a Jamaican client with needs ranging from health needs such as dealing with disability, health monitoring, and virus detection to community-based needs such as increasing energy access, monitoring water quality, and supporting produce and animal health. Students are expected to engage in a semester-long project with Jamaican students and will travel to Jamaica in May to complete and present project designs.

Can China Stop Climate Change? Politics, Geopolitics, and China’s Role in the World’s Renewable Energy Revolution (PSCI 3151-001) | China Education Initiative
Dr. Scott Moore; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to the United Arab Emirates
This course looks at one of the most important issues facing the world today: China’s climate policy and its role in the global energy transition away from fossil fuels. The course aims to expose students to the driving forces behind China’s position and policy related to climate change and its involvement in the global energy sector, with a strong emphasis on technology and international relations. The course will also examine barriers and challenges related to meeting China’s ambitious climate commitments. The course will be featured as part of the pilot phase of the China Education Initiative, which provides enrolled students with the opportunity to engage with key questions and issues related to China through a travel component, which this year is planned to examine a solar energy project in the United Arab Emirates built and largely financed by Chinese entities. Another important part of the course will be guest speakers representing government officials; multilateral institution officials; researchers; journalists; and civil society. This course will be conducted in a seminar format. Prior coursework related to, or knowledge of, China, science, technology, or environmental issues will be helpful but is not a prerequisite.

Fall 2022

Travel Over Winter Break 2022-23

Sustainable Development and Culture in Latin America (SPAN 0091 or SPAN 3910)
Dr. Teresa Giménez, Hispanic and Portuguese Studies, School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Costa Rica
This interdisciplinary course exposes students to the three dimensions of sustainable development -environmental, economic, and social- through an examination of three products—peyote, coca, and coffee—that are crucial in shaping modern identity in areas of Latin America. The course integrates this analysis of sustainable development in relation to cultural sustainability and cultural practices associated with peyote, coca, and coffee and their rich, traditional heritage and place in literature, film, and the arts. The course also includes a one-week immersive experience in Costa Rica. While immersed in Costa Rican culture, students explore firsthand the biodiversity of the coffee fields, the science behind coffee production, and its impact on soil, water, and wildlife. Through site visits to sustainable, conventional, and transitional coffee farms and cooperatives, to roasters and point-of-sale locations, the course analyzes the practices employed in the production and consumption of various types of coffee and their impact on sustainability and biological diversity.

Exploring Traditional Chinese Medicine (NURS 3430 – 002) | China Education Initiative
Dr. Jianghong Liu; School of Nursing
Travel to Thailand

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 Thailand, in which there will be guest lectures by TCM professors and practitioners, clinical observations, and other immersive experiences.

Health and the Healthcare System in Chile (NURS 343-001)
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.

Living Deliberately:  Monks, Saints, and the Contemplative Life – Thailand (REL 3560)
Dr. Justin McDaniel, Religious Studies; School of Arts and Sciences

Travel to Thailand
This is an experimental course in which students will experience monastic and ascetic ways of living.