Travel Course Offerings

  • Cross-listings: RLFR 25/COMP 25
    Description: There are many ways that African diasporic culture has performed throughout past and present Paris. From the spectacle-making of Saartje Bartman as Hottentot Venus in the late 1800s to the honoring of American dancer Josephine Baker as the Queen of the Colonial Exposition in 1931, the female African diasporic body has been a source of exoticism and desire in Paris. The privileging of African masks and sculptures in the visual art of Man Ray and Pablo Picasso in the early 20th century characterized the African body as primitive, simple and close to the earth. The sounds of jazz traveling to Paris via the concerts of such greats as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington in the 1930s further conflated notions of African and African diasporic cultures, while also exciting (and sometimes scaring) the French listening public. The mid-twentieth century brought Afro-Caribbean writers Frantz Fanon and Jeanne and Paulette Nardal as well as African American writers Richard Wright and James Baldwin; their African diasporic literature performed political dissent. Today hip hop culture is alive and well in Paris. Morphing beyond its Bronx beginnings, hip hop performers from West and North Africa now reign, dancing and spitting from La Place in the 1st arrondissement to Saint-Denis in the out skirted banlieues. In sum, throughout the ages African diasporic performance has persistently found breeding ground in Paris. Taught in English, this winter study travel course allows students to immerse themselves in past and present Paris via literary, filmic, artistic, musical and cultural performances of the African diaspora. In the first four days of winter study, students will engage with literature, historical essays, film, and music in preparation for their immersive trip to Paris. These classes will be two hours long; a course packet will be created and Glow audiovisual materials posted for homework assignments. Next students will commence a 10-day field trip to the City of Light, their task to observe multiple African diasporic performances as they engage in some of the following activities and venues: jazz clubs, a city tour, a tour of African American writers and artists in Paris, hip hop workshop, art museum exhibitions, a meal at a Senegalese restaurant, desserts from Arab bakeries, visit La Goutte d'Or of the 18th arrondissement (an area of predominately African diasporic population), and meet with professional musicians, writers and filmmakers in Paris. Students are required to maintain a travel journal and create an original final performance for the class. This performance could take many forms; it could be a short film documentary, song, spoken word performance, collage, photo essay, dance, or play. After returning to campus, students will reconvene to present their short performances. Note: All applicants for this winter study should write a 1-page double-spaced report that describes their experience traveling abroad, motivation for joining the course, and any prior courses and/or background in African diasporic performance.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: final project; travel journal
    Prerequisites: none; no previous travel to France or French language proficiency is necessary; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 10
    Selection process: preference will be given to majors and concentrators in Africana Studies, French, and Comparative Literature; priority will also be given to students who have never had an experience studying abroad and/or upperclassmen
    Cost to student: $3500
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Rashida Braggs; Christophe Kone

  • Cross-listings: WGSS 25
    Description: This course focuses on the final stages of preparing an exhibition at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, renowned for its collection of tropical plants, including orchids, in Sarasota, FL. In addition to the climate-controlled room where four Warhol's silkscreens from WCMA will be displayed, we will work on installing other spaces, containing photographs, documents, etc., in the mansion, as well as the garden and conservatory. Students will have the opportunity to work with the entire staff, from the Director to Education, Marketing and Communications, Membership, Programming, Exhibition design, Horticulturalist, Botanist, Preparators, Docents, Members, and volunteers. We will be in residence in Sarasota for 2 ½ weeks (January 11-26). The beginning of the WSP will be spent in Williamstown researching exhibition practices and Warhol's life and work, as well as reviewing extant exhibition materials, including wall texts, labels, and publicity. Class meetings will share and discuss this work. Class time at Selby includes meetings with me and museum staff, aiding with installation and its evaluation, field trips, including meetings with Curators, to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota and the Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: 10-page paper
    Prerequisites: none; open to all upper-class students
    Enrollment limit: 6
    Selection process: preference will be given to Art majors who have had 301 Methods, a 400-level senior seminar, or museum experience
    Cost to student: $2660
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Carol Ockman

  • Description: "Exploring Hong Kong: Past and Present" introduces the history, politics, economy, as well as literary and cultural life of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a metropolitan city which used to be a British colony and now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of People's Republic of China. This course is jointly taught by Williams faculty and faculty from Lingnan University, a liberal arts college in Hong Kong. Eight Williams students will travel to Hong Kong and take the course together with eight Lingnan students on Lingnan campus. Students from both sides are required to have in-depth intellectual and personal interactions both inside and outside of the class. They will meet for two hours a day in a seminar style course for the first two weeks and then devote the last week to a final project. The contents of the course consist of two modules. The first week of class will be focused on the history, politics, and economy of Hong Kong, taught by Lingnan faculty. The second week of class will be focused on the literature and culture of Hong Kong, taught by Williams faculty. Each Williams student will be paired with a Lingnan student as "learning buddies" and meet outside of class for at least one hour a day for discussions or exchange of ideas on the assigned readings. In addition, students are required to participate in a few field trips to visit some government and social organizations, the HK monetary authority, the HK Cultural and Heritage Museum, the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub. Students will also have self-guided tours to explore the city of Hong Kong in order to discover and experience the everyday life of Hong Kong. The instructional language for this course is English. No previous knowledge of Mandarin or Cantonese is required. Students are required to attend and actively participate in class discussions every day, keep a daily journal and complete a final project.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: active participation, a daily journal, final project or performance
    Prerequisites: none; not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 8
    Selection process: This course is aimed at students from all disciplines at Williams who are interested in knowing more about Hong Kong. All interested students are required to attend the Hong Kong travel course information session in the fall and submit a 500-word persona
    Cost to student: $775
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Li Yu

  • Description: Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan has 1200 years of history. It is called Japan's cultural treasure house and thrives on its ancient heritage in architecture, gardens, religion, performing and culinary arts and craftsmanship. Yet Kyoto's appearances can be deceiving. At a glance, its traditional architectures, sacred shrines and temples are absent as they are tucked away behind tall buildings and busy commercial storefronts. In Kyoto, you will find a monumental temple designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site under the shadow of ultramodern high-rising buildings. There is an enigmatic quality to the city with this juxtaposition of old and new. This unresolved tension between tradition and modernization can be Kyoto's fascination. The purpose of this travel course is to explore the cultural history of Kyoto and how traditional craftsmanship is perpetuated and transformed in a modern era as the city of Kyoto developed. Students will visit Kyoto artisans at their studio and through a discourse with thriving artists, they will arrive at their own conclusion about what it means to sustain tradition while pursuing modernization and innovation. The first week of the course is conducted on campus. Students will intensively study the cultural history of Kyoto with readings, films and discussion. Also in pairs, they will conduct research on one selected area of Kyoto craftsmanship to acquire in-depth knowledge. Each pair will be responsible to educate the entire group for the onsite visit in Kyoto. Then, for the second and third week, the class will travel to Kyoto. We will first visit historic sites to learn the context of how craftsmanship developed from courtly culture in the Heian period, samurai tradition in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, religious ceremonies and Noh Theater and tea ceremonies. After and during these excursions, we will visit four to five artisan studios. They are a sacred mirror maker who could be the last of his kind, a textile weaver, a Noh mask maker, and a sculptor of Buddhist statues. Some of these artisans are perpetuating hundreds of years of family tradition. Some started out as an apprentice and established his/her own studio. Students will also have hands on experiences at some studios. Students are expected to participate in all the scheduled activities, keep a daily journal and share in daily reflections. At the end of the Kyoto visit, students will summarize their reflections and present their views on Japanese traditional and modern craftsmanship to the local community and the Kyoto artisans at a public forum. Throughout the course, students will upload their dairy journals, reflections and, at the end of the course, their final power-point presentation to a course website. The class will return to campus towards the end of the fourth week.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: final project; post daily blog to the course website and a public PowerPoint presentation in Kyoto
    Prerequisites: none, but not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 8
    Selection process: personal statements
    Cost to student: $3440
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Shinko Kagaya

  • 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. Students should be aware that our precise meeting schedule week by week may vary to accommodate the schedules and availability of our guests. In addition to reading the work of guests, there will be one required text about reporting and writing. Students will be expected to complete several small reporting and writing exercises, as well as one feature-length news story on a topic they choose 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, MSNBC, Pro Publica, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: participation in class discussions and reporting and writing exercises, and the completion of one fully-reported, original, feature-length news story about a topic to be assigned at the beginning of the course
    Prerequisites: none
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: preference will be given to students with a demonstrated interest in journalism or media (as explained in a statement of interest), with a priority given to upperclassmen
    Cost to student: $900
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Elizabeth Rappaport ‘94 and Bob Krefting
    Liz Rappaport is a Life & Arts editor at The Wall Street Journal. She works at the New York City headquarters. Previously, she was credit markets editor and a reporter. She covered Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as well as credit and other markets during the financial crisis. She wrote about financial markets and Wall Street at and Dow Jones Newswires. Ms. Rappaport graduated from Williams College with a degree in English. Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications, NYU.

  • Description: The course will be based at Williams-Mystic, the College's renowned maritime studies program in Mystic, Connecticut. We will focus on learning about the geological history of the Mississippi River Delta, the history of human settlement in the region, and the musical record of the environmental and socioeconomic challenges faced by the communities of the delta. Experiential learning is important to the course, and we will spend two evenings enjoying Cajun and Zydeco music as well as the blues. Finally, the course will involve synthesizing the experiences and learning of the first two weeks into oral presentations in which students will propose solutions for improving the sustainability of habitats and communities that are threatened by rising sea levels. We will use the multidisciplinary Defining the Delta (Edited by Janelle Collins, The University of Arkansas Press, 2015) as our textbook for the course. This winter-study course thus aims to:

    1. Explain the role of landscape change in controlling the sustainability of the environments upon which the communities and the economic infrastructure of the Mississippi River Delta have been built;
    2. Examine the musical geography of the region as a means for understanding the legacy of landscape and socioeconomic changes for the people who call the delta their home.

    Method of evaluation/requirements: 2- to 3-page paper; final project
    Prerequisites: none, though not open to first-year students
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: preference given to sophomores and then juniors
    Cost to student: $0
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Jose Constantine; Craig Edwards
    Craig is a renowned musician and musical historian of the Mississippi River Delta and majored in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. Reflecting his great talent, he was recently named a Connecticut Master Teaching Artist by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

  • Cross-listings: SPEC 24
    Description: This is an introductory course in photography with emphasis on people and places, and in particular travel to Lima, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu, in Peru. There will be three assignments and a project to complete and hand in, one each week. Each assignment will consist of a number of images and in some cases maybe prints, to be determined each week, to be shown in class.  The final project will consist of a group of slides together with an essay explaining the creative process used in making those images.  There will be one main field trip for about eight days in Peru.  Students will be introduced to basic photographic principles and to the culture of Lima and Cuzco, Peru.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: 10-page paper; evaluation will be based on class participation, completion of  assignments and the final project; students will be expected to come to all classes but there will be one so-called "sick day" that each participant may take
    Prerequisites: none
    Enrollment limit: 10
    Selection process: based on questionnaire and interview
    Cost to student: $4480 ($4065 if students already own an appropriate camera)
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Cesar Silva; Richards Washburne

    In 2010, Mr. Washburne joined the stable of photographic artists who are represented by the Sun to Moon gallery ( in Dallas. Since then he has worked exclusively as a fine art photographer concentrating on landscapes, abstracts and street shooting.

  • Cross-listings: PHIL 25
    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 three 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 expected to attend organizational and training meetings and complete a number of relevant readings prior to the trip.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: final project
    Prerequisites: none
    Enrollment limit: 12
    Selection process: students will submit applications indicating why they want to take the course. It is important to have some students who are fluent in Spanish
    Cost to student: $3800
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Laura Smalarz; Elise Harb

  • Cross-listings: ANSO 25/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 any field. Our students have worked in the Georgian Parliament, 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 Sveti-tskhoveli and the twentieth-century Stalin Museum, take the ancient Georgian Military Highway to ski in the Caucasus Range, see the birthplace of the wine grape in Kakheti and 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 internship experience.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: 10-page paper OR a 3-minute video and short paper about their internship experience
    Prerequisites: none; knowledge of Russian or Georgian is not required
    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: $2670
    Meeting time: TBA
    Instructor(s): Olga Shevchenko; Julie Cassiday

  • Description:
    Solving truly difficult problems facing society in the 21st century requires a purposeful approach that draws on a full range of the experiences and perspectives of those who have studied the liberal arts. Only with the advantage of those with an understanding of the social sciences, physical sciences, arts, and humanities provide a sensitivity to both the dimensions of difficult problems and how to address them for human-centered solutions.
    Design thinking—also known as integrative thinking, critical thinking, and other terms—has become the go-to skillset for both innovation in start-ups and mainline corporations, and for NGOs trying to solve the most difficult social problems around the world. Design thinking involves developing skills for empathy, creative ideation, and effective execution, all aimed at designing human-centered solutions that improve the human experience.
    This practicum will provide liberal arts students with the skills for engaging in collaborative problem solving and leading workshops, preparing them for productive participation in internships, student initatives, and professional settings.
    The practicum will begin with a week’s workshops at the Stanford d-school, the pre-eminent center for design thinking practices. The workshop will provide students with a set of techniques and experience in applying them to cases.
    Depending upon the availability of housing, the second and third weeks will occur either in Texas or Williamstown and will involve an introduction to complementary approaches to design thinking and the opportunity to work in two competitive five-member teams approaching a social problem to be defined by the students. The practicum will advance the solution from research, through the creation of prototypes of potential solutions and their testing, and to the point of implementation. The projects will likely involve designing services or experiences, rather than objects, but this will depend upon the preference of the teams.
    The educational process of the practicum will serve as its own prototype for the program in Design Thinking being introduced at Williams. Students will be able to assist the Williams staff in crafting a program for the future.
    Method of evaluation/requirements: based on observations of active constructive participation in team efforts and evaluating a final team presentation for relevance, sensitivity to human-centered concerns, completeness, effective communication, and realistic probability of success, all of which will be documented in an electronic field journal.
    Prerequisites: none; not open to first-year students.
    Enrollment limit: 10
    Selection process: interested students must attend an informational meeting and submit a short essay about their interest in the course
    Cost to student: no more than $3500
    Meeting time: TBA; regular attendance at all day workshops onsite in Palo Alto or research explorations
    Instructor(s): Richard Grefé, Design Thinker in Residence