Iceland, affectionately labeled the “Island of Fire and Ice,” is known for its volcanoes and glaciers. However, there are also impressive waterfalls, places offering solitude and silence, and beautiful sandy beaches stretching for miles.
Slated for Summer 2018, IU South Bend will sponsor a new study abroad program for students to experience this magical place. Using Holar University College, located in Holar in Hjaltadalur, as our base, we will explore places such as Snaefellsnes (the mystical volcano known as the entrance point to the planet’s interior, made famous by Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth), Reykjavik (the world’s northernmost capital), Gullfoss (Iceland’s best known waterfall, also labeled the “golden falls”), Vestmannaeyjar (comprised of 16 small islands – Heimaey, the only inhabited island of the chain – and is one of the world’s newer volcanic creations), and Akureyri (Iceland’s second city having the country’s most photographed attractions).
The purpose of the SUST-B399: Human Behavior & Social Institutions course, besides exploring the places listed above, and others, is to investigate through assigned readings, onsite explorations, and interactions with native Icelanders the sustainable living practices occurring there, including those embedded within the country’s social, scientific, political, and educational institutions, and contrast them with what is currently evidenced within the United States. The goal is to develop a critical and analytical skill set necessary in becoming global citizens guided by mutual respect and trust.
Canada, our near neighbor to the North, seems very familiar, but also very different. It has a unique history and has developed its own characteristic approach to public issues, social policies and the rights of its citizens, and lately is playing an outside role on the world stage. What can we learn from this country with its universal health care, embrace of refugees, and charismatic, yoga-loving feminist Prime Minister? At the same time, how can other democracies learn from Canada’s attempts to reconcile a painful genocidal history and continued mistreatment of indigenous communities? In a cost-effective B399 course, slated for travel between Spring and Summer 2018 semesters, students will spend 10 days divided between Canada’s beautiful capital Ottawa, a diverse and green city in the province of Ontario, and Montreal, a major historical and cultural French Canadian city in Quebec. With local Anglo, Québécois, and indigenous experts as guides, and drawing on the rich museums, universities, and cultural sites in each city, students will learn that while all nations face challenges with regard to social, civil, and human rights, there are many different ways to meet these challenges, even among the pluralistic democracies of North America.
Many people offer guided tours of various indigenous sites around the beautiful and culturally significant areas of Canada. Pictured here is Jaime Koebel, who designed and runs the powerful Indigenous Walks tour that our students will experience. This experience exposes students to some of the vast cultural diversity North America has to offer in the best way possible, by giving them a tangible experience through which to learn.
Blog post by April Lidinsky