Study Abroad Opportunities Available for First-Year Students

Tommie first-year students have much to be excited about this fall as they join the UST community. One of the most unique new opportunities available is the chance to study abroad during their first year on campus through two specially developed programs for incoming students: Introduction to Art History 110 in London and Theology 101 in Rome.

London Eye at night (Photo by Anna Twinem)

Photo by Anna Twinem

Introduction to Art History in London is a new initiative sponsored by Art History and College of Arts and Sciences. It was designed to meet both the Fine Arts and Human Diversity core requirements. This course will be led by professors Heather Shirey and Craig Eliason and will rotate through the department’s faculty in future years.

London is an ideal destination for students interested in art history. Home to six of the top 20 art museums in the world, students in this course will have the opportunity to visit many of them, including the Tate Modern and the British Museum. Allowing the textbook to come to life, “we have adapted the existing materials [of the on-campus course] so that students will benefit from the direct experience of works of art in context,” according to co-director Dr. Shirey.

The First-Year January Term Abroad model has been successfully run for eight years with Theology 101 in Rome. Since its inception, the option to take this course in Rome, a city teeming with cultural and religious history, has proven to be wildly popular and has created competition among the incoming class for the 25 coveted spots.

Photo by Adrienne Geile

Photo by Adrienne Geile

The January 2014 course will be co-directed by professors Massimo Faggioli and Michael Hollerich, Theology. When asked what the most unique aspects of this course were for past students, Hollerich explained that, “The course is an academic course, certainly, but it can’t help but have a spiritual impact as well. No one goes to Assisi, for example, and leaves unaffected.” The course has been shown to have another nonacademic impact as well: creating bonds of friendship formed in the crucible of a shared life-changing experience among the participants. Hollerich stated that, “In my experience, groups in this course form friendships that last all four years of college.”

Director of Study Abroad Sarah E. Spencer praises first-year study abroad programs for their “ability to create a significant St. Thomas experience abroad, the impact of which is felt when both faculty and students return to the classroom on campus.” Department-sponsored programs such as these allow both first-year students and faculty to gain international experience and build intercultural skills that enrich the dialogue on campus.

The Study Abroad office anticipates a high number of applicants for both courses, so applying by the priority deadline of Sept. 5 is recommended. If there are spots remaining after the priority deadline, applications will be accepted through the final deadline of Oct. 1. For more information regarding these courses as well as other J-Term study abroad courses available to first-year students, please visit the Study Abroad website.