Travel Course Offerings

More information about preregistration (deadline is 11:59 p.m. on September 26th)

  • Cross-listings:ENVI 25
    Description: Tropical marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangrove forests are biodiversity 'hotspots'; they are home to an astounding variety of marine organisms, provide critical support for the livelihoods and food sources of millions of people, but are also highly vulnerable to human impacts such as climate change and overfishing. This winter study travel course will offer a unique combination of classroom, laboratory, and hands-on experiences in the scientific study, management, and restoration of tropical marine ecosystems using the Bahamian island of Eleuthera as a case study. Eleuthera is rich in marine diversity but still in the process of implementing management policies and practices for its many fisheries. As such, it presents a unique opportunity for students to experience conservation-in-action. Students will gain an understanding of the structure, function, and major threats facing tropical marine ecosystems. They will develop practical skills in conducting field surveys of tropical marine species and in implementing management and restoration strategies on the Island. They will also engage with the local community to understand the social and economic impacts of marine conservation policy and to explore alternative sustainable development strategies for subsistence fisheries that rely on these marine ecosystems.
    Students are expected to participate in 2 days travel and 13 days of research on the Island. The daily schedule will include field research and independent study. Students are expected to devote time each day to researching and writing a final paper that integrates their field studies, interviews, and policy research. Students will also use this time to prepare and deliver an oral slide presentation on their research the last two days of the trip. After return to Williamstown, students will be given 5 days to finish writing their final papers.
    Method of Evaluation: short paper and final project or presentation
    Prerequisites: BIOL 203 or ENVI 101 or MAST 311 or BIOL 413/ENVI 423 or permission of instructor; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 8
    Selection process: preference will be given to juniors and seniors
    Cost to student: $0
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Sonya Auer, Sarah Gardner
  • Description: Ancient Greek literature displays a keen awareness of the links between performance and place. Whether referring to the locations of their own performance or conjuring up images of other sites and scenes, Greek songs and speeches demand that we pay attention to setting. This course, therefore, takes an experiential and contextual approach to the study of ancient Greek literature and performance culture. The course will include foundational reading in performance theory, as well as select readings from Greek poetry, drama, and oratory. The core work, however, will occur in Greece, as we visit sites like the Athenian Acropolis, the theater and sanctuary at Epidaurus, and the Temple of Aphaia on the island of Aegina. Each student will be responsible for introducing the class to a specific site, using primary and secondary sources to describe the layout of the space and the kinds of performance events (choral dance, athletic competition, religious ritual, forensic oratory) that took place within it. As a group, we will discuss different approaches to the reconstruction of historical performance events and consider how literary texts of various genres navigate the representation of landscape and architecture. While we will primarily focus on Classical Athens, a brief turn to Greek oratory under imperial Roman rule (the "Second Sophistic") will give us an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which the enduring cultural significance of the city of Athens in later antiquity served as a resource for writers and performers who represent themselves already as belated heirs of an earlier, classical period. This course will encourage us to consider the complex significance of studying ancient authors, performers, and audiences across an unbridgeable gap in time, even as we aim to close the gap in space, in order to explore how physical sites function as archives of memory, practice, and performance that can enrich and nuance our understanding of ancient literature and culture.
    Method of Evaluation: two reports (one on a site, one on a text) to be researched before departure and delivered in Greece, plus an additional reflective assignment upon return
    Prerequisites: none; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: preference will be given to Classics majors and intending Classics majors, and to those with demonstrated interest in the ancient world who have not previously travelled abroad
    Cost to student: $0
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Sarah Olsen, Amanda Wilcox
  • Description: This course will give students an in-depth view of the inner workings of journalism today. It will feature the perspectives of several Williams alumni who work in a broad spectrum of today's media universe, including print, broadcast, and new media. Our guests will help students workshop their ideas for a feature-length piece of journalism they're expected to create during the month. They will discuss the reporting skills to use, as well as their own experiences. In addition to reading the work of guests, there may be required texts about issues and methods related to journalism. Students will be expected to complete several small reporting and writing exercises, as well as one feature-length news story on a topic chosen at the beginning of the course. There will be a week-long trip to New York for field work and to visit various newsrooms. In previous years, organizations visited have included CNN, the New York Times, the Columbia School of Journalism, ABC News, Bloomberg News, BuzzFeed News, ProPublica, the Wall Street Journal and APM Marketplace.
    Method of Evaluation: final project or presentation
    Prerequisites: none; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 10
    Selection process: priority will be given to seniors and juniors, with a preference for students with a demonstrated interest in journalism (as expressed in a statement of interest, if needed)
    Cost to student: $1086
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Christopher Marcisz
    Christopher Marcisz is a freelance writer and editor based in Williamstown. He was a reporter (and later editor) at the Berkshire Eagle. Previously he worked in Washington covering national energy policy, wrote about sports in Moscow, and worked on the international desk at Newsweek. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
  • Description: If you've never read Moby-Dick, you might still think that's a heroic adventure story about humanity's struggle against the sea-the sort of book, in other words, that we give young readers, a cracking yarn, like Treasure Island only much longer. You might wonder, then, why so many people think it's the greatest novel ever written. You might be all the more puzzled to learn that no-one liked Moby-Dick when it was first published. Almost nobody read it. Herman Melville died thinking the book had been a total failure. Moby-Dick is peculiar, to be sure: an adventure story without much adventure nor even much story, a novel that doesn't read like a novel--a funny, joking, frightened, philosophical, and extravagant kind of book, a book that pushes readers to figure out their most fundamental attitudes towards the planet. In this class, we will read Moby-Dick and only Moby-Dick, and we will do so while living in a nineteenth-century whaling port, at Williams-Mystic, the College's coastal and ocean studies campus in Mystic, CT. Students will discuss Moby-Dick in the morning and learn nineteenth-century maritime skills in the afternoon: blacksmithing, carving, chantey singing, boat building, letterpress printing, sailmaking, etc. They will have extensive access to nineteenth-century tall ships throughout.
    Method of Evaluation: 10-page paper
    Prerequisites: none
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: first-years and sophomores
    Cost to student: $530
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Christian Thorne
  • Description: We will spend around ten days in Nicaragua, chiefly in the Atlantic Coast Autonomous Regions. Almost all of the days in those regions will be spent in clinics, where students—in conjunction with optometrists who volunteer their time for the trip—will administer eye exams, write prescriptions, and distribute glasses. While in Nicaragua, the students will keep detailed journals that they will complete following their return to Williamstown. They will interact with Nicaraguans during the eye clinics, and will have opportunities for speaking with them during evenings. Students will also be required to attend organizational and training meetings and to complete a number of relevant readings prior to the trip.
    Method of Evaluation: class participation and journals as described above, along with on-site observation of the students’ participation in the eye clinics
    Prerequisites: none, though it is helpful to include three to six students who are fluent in Spanish; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: students will submit applications indicating why they want to take the course
    Cost to student: $3,350
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Alan White
  • Description: Students spend winter study in Morocco, a country at the intersection of the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Threads of Islam, Arab traditions, and the heritage of the native Berber people are woven into a distinctive cultural tapestry, while traces of French colonialism can still be seen in the political and social structure. Travel there is a powerful way to introduce intellectual themes that require and reward a subtle blend of insight from history, literature, political science, religion, and philosophy. Students spend the first 8-10 days studying at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning (CCCL) in Rabat, attending lectures by local university faculty on various aspects of Moroccan history and culture, and taking introductory lessons in Moroccan Arabic. During this period students live with Moroccan host families in the Rabat medina. In the final week of the course, students travel in the interior of Morocco, exploring contemporary urban centers such Fez, Marrakesh, and Casablanca along with remote Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains.
    Method of Evaluation: active participation in all lectures and language instruction; a 10- to 15-page research paper before the trip on some facet of Moroccan culture (e.g., politics, religion, literature, history, architecture, gender relations); a 5-page reflective addendum to the paper after returning from Morocco
    Prerequisites: none--while Arabic is the official spoken language of Morocco and French is spoken widely, neither is required. The course is open to students in all majors at the college, however, it is not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: 1-page essay describing background and interests in the course; interviews
    Cost to student: $3600
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Melissa Barry
  • Description: This course will explore access to and reliance on public health services, NGOs, and education in a rural Indian social context. As one of the fasted growing and most populated countries in the world, India has the potential to have an enormous global impact. However, the country's future is entirely dependent upon the health of its population, specifically its most vulnerable--and most vital--members: women and children. To understand how public health and education policy can be formed and changed to address inequity and sociocultural biases, students will learn about the context of India and how local, national, and global actors currently interact with social systems. The course will begin with an orientation and introductory lectures in New Delhi. Then students will travel to rural Uttar Pradesh (UP) for 10 days for seminars with local experts and field trips to community health centers, schools, and villages. Following their trip to UP, students will travel to Rajasthan to meet NGO workers in Jaipur. The course will include an introduction to fieldwork methods and an interview project on a topic chosen by the student addressing development in India. This course will be run in partnership with the Foundation for Public Health, Education, and Development (http://fphed.org/). A UP-based organization with its own campus, FPHED's board collectively has decades of experience hosting study abroad programs, including biannual semester-long programs with the School for International Training. FPHED will assist in making all accommodations and travel arrangements, as well as making local connections with experts and translators for students.
    Method of Evaluation: short paper and final project or presentation
    Prerequisites: none; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: Public Health students, then by seniority
    Cost to student: $3260
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Elizabeth Curtis
    Ms. Curtis graduated from Williams College in Spring of 2017 with a degree in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a Concentration in Public Health. She conducted community-based participatory research on government reproductive health programs in rural India through a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship. She has spent a cumulative 17 months to-date studying and researching reproductive health in rural India. She is currently a Health Care Assistant at Planned Parenthood in Boston.
  • Crosslistings: LATS 25
    Description: What are borderlines? How have they been created and how do they affect the lives of those who cross or are being crossed by these borders? Motivated by the attention that borders have drawn recently with the caravans of Central Americans traveling north, we propose a trip to Chiapas, Mexico to explore the realities of the communities, activists, and border entities. This trip will engage students with the visual response and the relationship with spaces created in these borderlands.
    The class will meet for an intensive week of class on-campus with readings and discussion followed by a 10 -12 travel to Chiapas with Borderlinks. The Borderlinks pedagogical model is based on "dynamic educational experiences that connect divided communities, raise awareness about the impact of border and immigration policies, and inspire action for social transformation." Their leaders accompany the delegation at all times.
    Method of Evaluation: short paper and final project or presentation
    Prerequisites: none; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 10
    Selection process: based on statement of interest in the course
    Cost to student: $3208
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Roxana Blancas Curial; Jane Canova
    Roxana Blancas Curial is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Mexican Literature and Cultural Production; Jane Canova is the Administrative Director of Center for Foreign Languages Literatures and Cultures
  • Crosslistings: SPEC 25
    Description: Williams has a unique program in the Republic of Georgia, which offers students the opportunity to engage in three-week-long internships in a wide variety of fields. Our students have helped in humanitarian relief organizations like Save the Children, interned in journalism at The Georgian Times, taught unemployed women computer skills at The Rustavi Project, documented wildlife, studied with a Georgian photographer, done rounds at the Institute of Cardiology, and learned about transitional economies at the Georgian National Bank. In addition to working in their chosen fields, students experience Georgian culture through museum visits, concerts, lectures, meetings with Georgian students, and excursions. Visit the sacred eleventh-century Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli and the twentieth-century Stalin Museum, see the birthplace of the wine grape in Kakheti, and explore the region where Jason sought the Golden Fleece. Participants are housed in pairs with English-speaking families in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital city. At the end of the course, students will write a 10-page paper assessing their overall trip experience.
    Method of Evaluation: 10-page paper
    Prerequisites: none; knowledge of Russian or Georgian is not required; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 8
    Selection process: interested students must attend an informational meeting and submit a short essay about their interest in the course
    Cost to student: $2922
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Vladimir Ivantsov
    Vladimir Ivantsov holds a PhD in Russian Studies from McGill University (Canada). Prior to coming to Williams, he taught at McGill University and St. Petersburg State University (Russia). His research interests cover a broad spectrum of topics, including Dostoevsky, existentialism, and rock and pop culture. He published a book on the contemporary Russian writer Vladimir Makanin.
  • Description: Interested in Entrepreneurship and seeing first-hand what it takes to launch a venture? Visit over ten startups in the Bay area to find out!
    This course is designed to give students interested in Entrepreneurship in-depth insight into the Customer Discovery process, i.e. how startups figure out if their ideas are worth pursuing. We will meet with the founders of 10-15 start-ups in the Bay Area and track their professional and personal journeys. We will look at the impact of company culture, the Bay Area ecosystem and values, financing, and how a Liberal Arts background prepares students for the challenges of entrepreneurship. Student teams will have the opportunity to work on an actual project for one or more of the companies to be visited and present their findings to senior management. We will also visit the Google campus and Stanford d.School While many of the companies will be technology driven, no technical background is needed and we will strive to have a diverse background in the class.
    The course will start in Williamstown with a review of idea development tools used in today's startup environment, particularly those pioneered by Stanford d.School called the Business Model Canvas. Workshops on Design Thinking and maximizing the Williams network will round out the pre-trip coursework. Reading will include "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries, "Zero to One" by Peter Thiel and Edward deBono's "Thinking Course" as well as articles and podcasts. Then we will go see what is actually happening in the market!
    Meeting times:
    1/6/20 - 1/14/20 Williamstown. 10am-1pm
    1/15/20 travel to San Francisco
    1/16/20-1/28/20 San Francisco 10am-5pm or as needed based upon project
    1/29/20 Travel back to Williamstown
    Method of Evaluation: final project or presentation
    Prerequisites: none; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: preference given to students with a demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship
    Cost to student: $3100
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Tonio Palmer
    Tonio Palmer is the Entrepreneur in Residence at Williams. Tonio has had a long career in international business and founded a number of companies. He holds an MBA from Wharton and MA from Upenn as a graduate of the Lauder Institute.
  • Description: Interested in a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of West Africa and do some service work at the same time? This course will explore the close historical ties that exist between Liberia, the US and Williams and how NGO's have succeeded and not succeeded. We'll experience rural living in the tropical environment of the interior of Liberia as we work in the River Gee county. Our project will include health care and preparing classes to be presented in the local schools. We will be directed and supported by the Honorable Francis Dopoh,ll, CDE class of 2010 who represents this county in the Liberian Congress.
    Method of Evaluation: short paper and final project or presentation
    Prerequisites: informational and training meetings with the instructor and some reading of current books on Liberia, eg. "The House at Sugar Beach" by Helene Cooper; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 8
    Selection process: any student interested in this offering will be required to attend an informational meeting and be required to submit a written statement of purpose as to why they want to participate and what they hope to gain from this experience
    Cost to student: $3150
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis is the Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Director of Outing Club.