I firmly believe that "learning by doing" is one of the most transformative experiences that a student can have. Study abroad programs not only give students an opportunity to see "the real world" beyond the classroom, but they also teach them crucially important "soft skills" such as communication, collaboration, compromise, resilience, and critical thinking. I have been fortunate to help develop and lead multiple programs for the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at ASU. Below are three of the programs I developed and led with my collaborators.
Switzerland: Global Problems, European Solutions
Bringing together social science faculty from ASU with some of the top social science experts in Europe, this innovative program examines some of the most complicated and challenging problems we face in the US and globally. Using the unique perspectives and often remarkable advances made in Switzerland and other Western European nations as our setting off point, we explore the role of culture and institutions in the way that we understand and frame solutions for some of our world's greatest challenges. Key concepts used in the course include economics, sustainability, health, and resilience, all viewed across multiple levels of analysis (from family to transnationally). Through lectures, readings, and hand-on activities and excursions, students come away from this experience being able to express a sophisticated and persuasive comparative understanding of how European solutions to complex problems are different from those typically applied in the US, and what lessons can be learned.
France: food and Culture
Food represents the most basic of human needs, and yet its very pervasiveness in our everyday lives often prevents us from seeing how extensively it defines us socially and culturally. Cultural differences in how we understand and use food have massive implications for our diverse identities and our social ties to each other and how we organize our political and economic systems. This hands-on course uses perspectives from anthropology, global health and other allied fields to explore the relationships between humans and food in the country most notorious for its cuisine: France. Through excursions, walking tours, museum visits, day trips, and (of course) eating, students will learn how food is not only deeply embedded in French culture, but also how food culture in France has changed throughout history due industrialization, urbanization, and globalization and how these changes impact social ties, cultural meanings, and human health.
Fiji: Culture, Health, & Environment
This study abroad program uses the case of Fiji to better understand the complex connections between culture, society, health, technology, globalization, and environment. Fiji has two major ethnic groups–indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, with very different (and often separate) cultures, as well as histories, opportunities, and challenges. The contrast between how the groups live, their health, and well-being can be startling. Both groups have to cope with the challenges of living in a small country with limited resources to help its citizens. In this course we think about the relationships between ecological constraints (such as food availability and climate change), culture (including ethnic differences), and health and social inequities. We are interested in developing a more nuanced understanding of how poverty and environmental and social constraints and opportunities are linked to each other.