Penn Global Seminars Course Offerings by Term

Travel associated with Penn Global Seminars is planned to resume during the 2021-2022 academic year. Please note that the travel component may be canceled if Penn Abroad determines it to be unsafe or no longer logistically feasible. Students can review updates and travel information for Fall 2021 on the PGS COVID Travel Information page.

Applications for the Spring 2022 Penn Global Seminars will open on November 1, 2021. Find the current course list below for a preview of what will be offered, additional courses may be added through October.  You are also invited to join our mailing list to receive reminders, updates on programs, events, and application deadlines

Spring 2022

Travel Over Spring Break 2022

The Parthenon: The Many Lives of a Monument (ARTH 328)
Mantha Zarmakoupi, History of Art; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Greece
This seminar focuses on the Parthenon, the centerpiece of Pericles’ building program on the Athenian Acropolis, to address its design and history, its aftermath as a ruin, its reconstruction, and its meaning as a national and cultural symbol in the modern period. The Parthenon is arguably a monument of perfection – the culmination of the search for the ideal proportions in Doric temple design in the 5th century BCE – and the course will analyze its architecture to shed light on its design and construction processes, including its architectural refinements. The course will also address the history of the building as a ruin and the important work of its restoration as a monument after the 19th century, thereby tackling the aesthetics of “purity” intertwined in the planning of interventions on ancient ruins and elucidating the ways in which such interventions are entwined with national and supranational debates about cultural identity in the discourses of modernity. Travel to Greece will include a week in Athens to study the Parthenon up close, as well as to observe the current work of the Acropolis Restoration Service, whose recent work has shed light on the design and construction of the monument.

Travel in May 2022

Case Studies in Environmental Sustainability (ENVS 302)
Travel to Iceland
Alain Plante, Earth and Environmental Science
This seminar asks students to research and present a case study on an environmental topic specific to Iceland, including climate change, renewable energy production, land management, fisheries, food production, and many other issues of environmental sustainability that span the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. Iceland offers an unrivaled opportunity to study geothermal and other energy production, ecology, the effects of tourism on the environment, agriculture, aquaculture, and issues of environmental ethics, nature interpretation, and resource management. Travel to Iceland will include visits to Reykjavik and other neighboring small towns to take deeper dive into the students’ case study. Site visits include Þingvellir National Park, the South Waterfalls, black beaches, and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Colonial and Cosmopolitan Encounters in Mumbai (WRIT 012)
Fayyaz Vellani, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to India
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. This writing seminar provides an in-depth examination of Mumbai, India. Having served as a locus of colonial power for Portuguese and British empires, as well as the Gujarat Sultanate, Mumbai has a rich and fascinating history peppered with competing imperial claims. Contemporary Mumbai is a prime site for exploration, serving as home to Bollywood--the world's largest film industry--and to three UNESCO World Heritage sites including the world's second-largest collection of Art Deco buildings. With a population of more than 25 million people, metropolitan Mumbai is the world's second-largest city. Mumbai's population is extremely diverse, its residents speaking Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, English, Telugu, Konkani, Dangii, Varhadii, Hindi, and more. Students will encounter Mumbai's vibrant cultural life through readings, writing, class discussions, and explorations during the travel component. Site visits will include the Gateway of India, the Prince of Wales Museum, Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus, Malabar Hill, Marine Drive, the National Gallery of Modern Art, and the former Portuguese colony of Goa.

Mongolian Civilization: Nomadic and Sedentary (EALC 004)
Christopher Pratt Atwood, East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Mongolia
This course will explore how two intertwined ways of life – pastoral nomadism and settling down for religious, educational, and economic reasons – have shaped the cultural, artistic, and intellectual traditions of Mongolia. In this course, students will learn about Mongolian pastoral nomadism, and how the Mongolian economy, literature, and steppe empires were built on grass and livestock. We will also explore how Mongolians have also just as consistently used the foundations of empire to build sedentary monuments and buildings, whether funerary complexes, Buddhist monasteries, socialist boarding schools, or modern capitals. Over time, these cities have changed shape, location, and ideology, all the while remaining linked to the mobile pastoralists in the countryside. We will also explore how these traditions of mobile pastoralism and urbanism were transformed in the 20th century, by urbanization, communist ideology, and the new reality of free-market democracy, ideological pluralism, and a new mining-dependent economy. We will meet modern painters and musicians who interweave Mongolian nomadic traditions with contemporary world trends and consider the future of rural traditions in a modern world.

The Tangled Web: National Competitiveness and International Security in Northeast Asia (INTR 290)
Frank Plantan and Tomoharu Nishino, International Relations Program; School of Arts and Science
Travel to Japan
The course will use the experience of Northeast Asia to explore the problem of security in East Asia. In the 20th century, the region was one of the most conflict-prone parts of the world. Today disputes over territory, maritime influence, and nuclear proliferation make the region potentially one of the most volatile. The region is unique in a number of ways: it is where the world’s three largest economies meet, it is a region that is arguably the most integrated into the global economy, and the region has long been the manufacturing hub of the world. Intra-region trade is essential to each country, while technological development is at the root of national competitiveness. At the same time, the region is uniquely primed for volatility. It is where four nuclear powers operate in close proximity to each other, and the four largest and best-equipped navies of the world (US, China, Russia, and Japan) jockey for position. The course will explore the evolution of the region over the last 100 years in an effort to understand the historical and contemporary forces that have shaped it, and the legacies those forces leave behind. Travel to Tokyo and Hiroshima will include meetings with personnel within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense as well as visits to Hiroshima Peace Park, the Atom Bomb Dome, and the Maritime Self Defense Forces Kure District Headquarters.

Scientific Nationalism in Japan (WRIT 012)
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 and will offer students the opportunity to speak with government officials 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 (MUSC056)
Carol Muller, Music
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 organized by Charles Darwin University (CDU), based in Darwin, Australia. CDU has strong Aboriginal ties, with 10% of its student population being Aboriginal as well as offering an Aboriginal Studies program. Travel to Australia will include visiting the Larrakai Nation in Darwin and Northern Arnhem Land and allow students to speak with local musicians and artists to gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history.

The Great War in Memoir and Memory (HIST 202)
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.

Fall 2021

Travel over Winter Break 2021/2022

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, Ecuador
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.