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Global Education Office announces new Santiago de Compostela summer program

The College of William & Mary’s new Santiago de Compostela, Spain summer option offers students the opportunity to earn six credits in an innovative Pilgrimage Studies program.

Led by George Greenia, professor of Hispanic Studies, the program is designed with modules starting with a two-week intensive seminar on history, art, and the practice of travel for transformation, followed by a three-week research component – either on the medieval pilgrimage routes or in the museums, archives, and city of Santiago. That will be followed by a final one-week research workshop at the epicenter of modern European walking pilgrimage.

“This program is very much in the spirit of other William & Mary summer programs, which are academically rigorous and challenging,” said Molly DeStafney, assistant director of study abroad operations in the Global Education Office at the Reves Center for International Studies.

“Pilgrimage Studies is an interdisciplinary field that fuses insights and methodologies from the humanities and social sciences.  At the root of this field is the quest for something that holds particular meaning to an individual or community, as a spiritual journey, a rite of passage, or openness to new experiences and even personal transformation. Reverent travel is a practice that spans traditions, religions, and peoples.”

The program offers two research tracks during the third through fifth weeks. Track One: The Pilgrim’s Way guides students in field research as they walk 300 miles of the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James, a pilgrimage route that spans northern Spain and concludes at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Students will walk the Camino under the experienced guidance of Professor Greenia, who has led a similar program independently for more than five years, and W&M peer leaders who are veterans of that program.

 “Walking the ancient pilgrimage trails allows modern scholars insight into distances, terrain, and the vast trove of architecture and art the pilgrimage trail left to our modern age,” said Greenia.  “It also puts us in touch with modern pilgrims with wonderful stories to tell.”

Track Two: Pilgrimage ArPhoto courtesy of Steve Salpukast and Community allows students to continue their stay in Santiago at the program’s residential center, the renovated former monastery and pilgrim hostel of San Martin, and pursue their research projects under the guidance of Kathleen Jenkins, professor of Sociology.

 “In line with W&M’s commitment to undergraduate research, this program provides students with an opportunity for guided and mentored interdisciplinary research focusing not only on the societal and historical aspects of the pilgrimage trail’s legacy but also allows for the exploration of its influences in a variety of disciplines related to a student’s own academic pursuits,” said Sylvia Mitterndorfer, director of the Global Education Office.

“The city of Santiago de Compostela provides a particularly rich context for original student research and a chance to practice a variety of field research methods. The intensive academic interaction with two faculty directors will allow for close academic collaboration and enhance opportunities for original research outcomes.”

The William & Mary Santiago de Compostela program will run from May 19, 2012 through June 30. Applications must be completed online on or before February 1, 2012 through the Global Education Office’s website.