Penn Global Seminars Course Offerings by Term

Penn Global Seminars travel has been suspended for the Spring 2021 semester. For Spring 2021, Penn Global Seminars will run as Collaborative Online International Learning (PGS-COIL) courses. Within the COIL model, students participate in collaborative work with individuals, classes, and organizations outside of Penn in a virtual environment.

COIL activities may include:

  • Collaborative projects with community members abroad

  • Guest lectures and workshops delivered by international experts

  • Ongoing partnerships with peers abroad (e.g. pen pals)

While the global collaboration occurs online, the courses will be offered regardless of Penn's chosen format of instruction for the Spring 2021 semester. No application or program fee will be required to participate in a Spring 2021 PGS-COIL course. Students interested in a Spring 2021 PGS-COIL course may register in Penn-in-Touch. Please refer to the course meeting times and pre-requisites as listed on Penn-in-Touch.

Spring 2021

Information Communication Technologies for Development
Dr. Guy Grossman, Political Science; School of Arts and Sciences
This seminar will study the role that innovations in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can play in improving development outcomes in low-income countries. Bringing together research and case studies from tech gigs, policymakers, and non-governmental organizations, the course will focus on the promises and perils of utilizing mobile technologies and GIS for better governance to improve citizen voice and government accountability. The course will survey innovative applications of ICTs in agriculture, financial services, health services, and governance. Students will have the opportunity to meet virtually with NGO staffers, educators, and local government officials in Uganda who are experimenting with new products and technologies to hear their challenges and brainstorm new applications.

People of the Land: Indigeneity and Politics in Argentina and Chile
Dr. Tulia Falleti, Political Science; School of Arts and Sciences
This course will compare the evolution of relations between states and indigenous peoples and movements throughout the Americas, with a particular focus on the Mapuche people of the Patagonia region of southern Argentina and Chile. Throughout the course, students will comparatively study the organization of indigenous communities and analyze their political demands and proposals regarding plurinationality, autonomy, territory, prior consultation, living well, and intercultural education, as well as the different ways in which nation-states accommodate or respond to such demands. COIL activities may include virtual guest speakers from Mapuche communities, and collaboration on a video project exploring Mapuche culture, recuperation of identity and language, territorial claims and arrangements, and different models of economic and environmental sustainability. 

The Atomic Bomb: Science, Art, History
Dr. M. Susan Lindee, History and Sociology of Science; School of Arts and Sciences
This seminar will focus on the impact of the atomic bombings of Japan in world history, the global arms race, the rise of nuclear energy, and the continuing legacies of radiation exposure today. Students will learn about the culture and religion of Japan, read novels and poetry engaging with the atomic bombings, and explore the development and use of the atomic bomb in 1945, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in the 2011 nuclear power disaster in Fukushima Prefecture (the so-called “third atomic bombing of Japan”). Over the course of the semester, students will have the opportunity to engage remotely with survivors and scientists in Japan and gain critical tools that can help them understand the atomic bomb and its continuing importance in geopolitics and in the human imagination.

Disability Rights and Oppression: Experiences within Global Deaf Communities
Dr. Jami Fisher, Linguistics, Penn Language Center; School of Arts and Sciences
This course explores the linguistic and social statuses of global Deaf communities in order to understand the specific experiences of Italian deaf people and their quest for national recognition of their sign language (LIS) and 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. We will use first-hand accounts via text and film to elucidate a variety of global deaf perspectives. In Spring 2021, Penn will be collaborating with Gallaudet University, an all-Deaf university in Washington, D.C., using a COIL model involving joint classes and class discussions on common readings (facilitated by ASL-English interpreters) as well as collaborative, project-based learning. There will also be guest lectures and panel discussions featuring scholars and Deaf community members from Italy (also interpreted), elucidating the current status of LIS recognition as well as the everyday lives of Italian Deaf community members.

Malagasy (Elementary II/Intermediate II): 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

Combining the Elementary II and Intermediate II levels of Malagasy, this class will create a communicative language environment where students will explore the language and culture of Madagascar. The course offers 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. COIL activities may include online language exchange with Malagasy speakers, a Malagasy cuisine cooking workshop tailored to Penn students, and a virtual marketplace experience allowing Penn students to correspond with local 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. 

The Great War in Memoir and Memory
Dr. Warren Breckman, Department of History; School of Arts and Sciences
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. COIL components may include virtual 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.

Communicating Change in Mongolia: Using Science Writing to Investigate Shifts in Land Use & Livelihoods
Dr. Aurora MacRae-Crerar, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences
Fulfills Writing Seminar Requirement
Mongolia is experiencing monumental change. This landlocked country is especially susceptible to climate change, becoming hotter and drier faster than many other places on Earth. These changes are accompanied by shifts in land-use patterns, including a rise in mining towns and a decline in the nomadic herder’s way of life. This writing seminar will investigate the causes and consequences of such shifts and explore the best ways to communicate these to diverse audiences, from scientists to the public. Overarching questions include: What are scientists and herders observing about the effects of global warming on Mongolia’s ecosystems? How is the changing environment influencing Mongolian livelihoods? What environmental and political debates have emerged as a result of rapid socio-economic shifts? Students will learn how to write about science across genres and reflect on how their own opinions change after visiting the country. COIL activities may include guest lectures from leading ecologists based in Mongolia, and virtual collaboration with students at the National University of Mongolia.

Fall 2020

Winter break travel associated with Fall 2020 Penn Global Seminars has been suspended due to continued travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Exploring Traditional Chinese Medicine
Dr. Jianghong Liu; School of Nursing
Travel to Taiwan
This class introduces students to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a form of complementary and alternative medicine to Western Medicine. Students will learn about TCM theory, including the historical development of TCM, the Yin-Yang principles, the concept of the Five Elements, and the application of Yin-Yang and Five Elements to medicine. Students will learn about the existing research on TCM, the clinical applications of Chinese herbal medicine, and the safety, regulation, and healthcare policies surrounding TCM. The prevention and treatment of COVID-19 will also be emphasized throughout the course theory and modalities. The travel component will bring students to Taipei, Taiwan. Students will attend seminars, observe clinical settings, participate in hands-on experiences, gaining a global perspective and understanding of the implications of TCM.

Laboratory of Evolution: The History, Philosophy, and Science of Evolution in the Galápagos
Dr. Michael Weisberg, Philosophy; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to the 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.