Gabriel 2008 ES

"Live and Learn: Europe Semester Fall 2015"

Application deadline is now past.

LEADERS: Dr. Ken Kihlstrom, Professor of Physics and Dr. Randy VanderMey, Professor of English with Guest Instructor, Gabriel Fawcett, Oxford-educated historian, writer, and tour guide, and Dana VanderMey, R.N.

TENTATIVE ITINERARY: Scotland, England, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic and Italy.

GE: II E Performing & Interpreting the Arts, II G Thinking Historically, II H Understanding Society; pending IIF Thinking Globally, III D 1 credit PE



What is Europe Semester?

Westmont’s Europe Semester Program has been going for over forty years since its beginning in 1969 with 10 students. Enthusiasm for the unique learning opportunities it affords has remained strong ever since. During its history, over 1500 students have completed the program.

Europe Semester couples intensive study with first-hand experience of the places and people that have shaped European history and cultures. You'll travel widely, read, research and write extensively, and learn from experts and everyday people from across Europe. Your courses will fulfill four Common Inquiries requirements from Westmont's General Education program, but your academic experience will be much more than meeting requirements. You will discover new perspectives, wrestle with challenging questions, and see abstract ideas embodied in real people's lives, all while being a part of a small, Christian learning community.

Your learning will begin well before we depart, as you equip yourself to get the most from your experience in Europe with summer readings, research, and essays. Once in Europe, our learning will take many forms: some scheduled, like traditional classroom lectures and discussions, site visits to museums and galleries, and cultural events such as concerts and plays; some unscheduled, like good conversations on long bus rides, one-on-one chats with a professor, and encounters with locals on a subway or in a coffee shop. In the end you'll find that learning permeates your whole experience--your classes, your worship, your play, and even mundane tasks like grocery shopping and laundry.

Europe Semester can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Travel is exciting, but can also be tedious. A close community is supportive in hard times, but can also test our patience. Study deepens our experience, but can also limit our freedom to see the sites. But these very challenges often bring the greatest growth--personally, intellectually, and spiritually. We hope you'll share these opportunities and challenges with us.


Europe Semester 2013 Program Description

Students on Europe Semester 2013 will cultivate the twin longings of the traveler: on the one hand to explore the new and unknown, and on the other hand to develop a sense of place, of familiarity, of knowing and being known. Four cities—Athens, Rome, Madrid, and Paris—will serve as our sojourning “hubs” where we will make a home for three to four weeks at a time. Our path will follow the historical trajectory of European social and political thought; our steps will take us from the Areopagus of St. Paul to the Sistine Chapel, from the plains of La Mancha to the Louvre. In Athens we will begin our journey through ancient thought with Plato and Aristotle, even as we engage contemporary Greek culture through a course on film. After a long travel weekend on the way to Rome, we will turn to the social thought of Augustine and Cicero, consider Christian pilgrim practices, and explore the creativity of Italian cinema. During the final week in Rome we will begin a three-week course focused on art and architecture that will carry us through Rome, Florence, and Madrid. After settling in Madrid we will resume our cultural engagement through film, explore the Jewish and Islamic social thought of medieval Spain, and continue to consider Christian pilgrimage in the context of the historic Camino de Santiago. After Madrid, students will make a pilgrimage of their own choosing and planning before we reunite in Paris for the final three weeks. Throughout the semester we will contrast being on the road with being planted, the past with the present, and the tourist with the pilgrim.


Athens (3 weeks); Rome (4 weeks); Florence (1 week); Madrid (4 weeks); Paris (3 weeks). Planned excursions include Corinth; Delphi; Venice; Naples; Toledo; Salamanca; Segovia; and London, among others.








2013 Courses

*** GE credit is pending and awaiting the approval of the GE Committee***

The Art of Italy and Spain (4 Units; fulfills the GE: Performing and Interpreting the Arts)
Instructor: John Carlander
This course will survey the Art of Italy and Spain firsthand. Emphases will be put upon the Art of Ancient Rome, Early Christian Art and then the Art of the Italian Renaissance. These periods will be studied in the classroom and then the major works will be studied in person. In Spain, the greatest artists of Spanish history will be surveyed, including El Greco, Velázquez , Goya and the 20th Century figures of Picasso, Dalí and Miró will be included. Hands-on studio projects will be introduced and museums including art from many great historical periods will be visited. In Rome sites will include the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum, St. Peter's and the Vatican Museums. In Florence the Ufizzi and the Bargello will be a focus and in Madrid the great Prado Museum will be emphasized along with other museums.

European Culture in Film (4 Units; fulfills the GE: Understanding Society)
Instructor: Jesse Covington
This course will ask students to consider the political, religious, and popular culture of contemporary Europe through the powerful and evocative medium of visual narrative. With particular emphasis on films made in and by those who live in the cultural centers where we will live and study, students will be invited to see their new cultural context through the eyes of a native. Moreover, this course will draw students' minds and affections into the joys, questions, pains, and complexities of the diverse populations of each metropolitan center, helping them to engage those around them both critically and empathetically.

Introduction to Classical Social Thought (4 Units; fulfills the GE: Thinking Historically)
Instructor: Jesse Covington
Following the path of our travels through Athens, Rome, Madrid, and Paris, this course introduces students to the historical development of classical social and political theory. Readings and discussions will emphasize Plato and Aristotle while in Greece; Augustine and Cicero in Rome; Alfarabi, Maimonides and Averroes while in Madrid; and Thomas Aquinas in Paris. A central theme of the course will be the scope of what politics can accomplish--whether it can produce comprehensive human flourishing or only a more limited peace and compromise among those who disagree.

On the Road: Christian Pilgrimage (4 Units; fulfills the GE: Thinking Globally)
Instructor: Holly Covington
This course will look at the Christian practice of pilgrimage from theological, historical, and cultural perspectives and from the more personal point of view of the individual pilgrim. Together we will consider the various ways in which one can be fully engaged as a “resident alien.” Centrally, the course will invite students to engage in Christian practices associated with pilgrimage, including contemplation, worship, and hospitality. Special attention will be given to the traditional pilgrimages to Rome and Santiago de Compostela, as we will set our feet along sections of those paths. We will compare Christian pilgrimage to that of other world religions, including Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj), and functionally secular pilgrimage. There will also be a language component to this course, preparing students for basic daily communication with those along the road in four world languages.


Program Leaders

Jesse Covington, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Westmont. He has studied and lived abroad and teaches political theory and constitutional law. He is particularly interested in the intersection of religion and politics and the liberal arts in Christian contexts.

Holly Covington, MAR, ABJ, has studied and traveled extensively in Spain and has more than six years of experience as a Spanish language instructor. She earned her master’s degree in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary and has particular interests in language, liturgy, culture, and Christian practices.

John Carlander, MFA, taught studio art at Westmont for 30 years, and has taught art history courses at Westmont and elsewhere for 15 years. He has led seven tours of Rome and Florence for Westmont. Professor Carlander will be joining Europe Semester 2013 for a week each in Rome, Florence, and Madrid.






Europe Semester Program Objectives

For each participant, the Europe Semester faculty desire:

  1. An enlarged understanding and appreciation of the history and contemporary character of European culture and society, including the role of the Christian faith in Europe’s past and present.
  2. An increased grasp of Europe’s place in the world both historically and in the twenty-first century.
  3. An enhanced ability to acquire knowledge through observation and experience.
  4. A new empathy for the perspectives and perceptions of other peoples and cultures.
  5. An experience of the need for and process of creating a caring Christian community.
  6. A personal maturation in Christian graces such as loving, forgiving, communicating honestly,and experiencing Christian freedom responsibly.

Expenses and Payments

Westmont College attempts to secure reasonable group travel rates and adds these costs to regular campus charges to arrive at a final fee for Europe Semester. This final fee, in other words, is the sum of campus tuition, fees, and full room and board, plus a Europe Semester supplemental charge as yet to be determined.


Faculty leaders take into consideration all of the following:

  • Class standing
  • GPA (minimum 2.3 gpa for eligibility)
  • How many Common Context courses you have completed (since these will provide an intellectual foundation to better understand and appreciate what is seen and learned experientially in Europe)
  • Application essays
  • Familiarity/proficiency with a foreign language
  • Leadership experience
  • Faculty and personal recommendations