J-Term 2021 courses revealed


Photo courtesy of luther.edu

Ellie Palashewski ('22) poses on a J-Term trip in Leipzig, Germany.

Executive Director for Global Learning and International Administration Jon Lund held a presentation about the off-campus courses offered for J-Term 2021 on Feb. 13 in Olin 102.

Off-campus courses during J-Term will include courses in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Europe, North Africa, South and East Asia, Oceania, and various locations in the United States. The range of professors leading these trips stretches from anthropology to religion.

Professor of Anthropology Lori Stanley and Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and History Kelly Sharp are taking students to Tanzania, on a course entitled “People and Parks: Pastoralism and Conservation in East Africa.”

Professors go to study abroad locations for many different reasons. Sometimes it is to try something new, and other times it is because they are familiar with the country.

“Sometimes the faculty member has already lived in a particular place or conducted research in a particular place,” Stanley said. “If they have the opportunity to develop a study abroad course, then that is kind of a natural place to start. In other cases a faculty member, who doesn’t have experience in a place, might go as a second leader with someone else who has been going for a number of years. In my case, I’ve had several other faculty go with me, and this will be [Sharp’s] first time.”

Professor of Chemistry Olga Michels takes students to Morocco and Spain in a course entitled “Islamic Science in the Middle Ages Across the Mediterranean.” This is the only class that fulfills the natural world requirement abroad as well as the only North African course.

“Going to Morocco is to get a real flavor of an Arabic country, an Islamic nation, or some of those pieces I should say, and get a feel for the culture,” Michels said. “We do some science and then we look at Moorish Spain where they settled and made a lot of advances in science.”

Michels also wants this course to bring attention to the scientific advancements made during the Middle Ages.

“A lot of us have this perception that it’s the dark ages of Europe and there’s no science existing until, I don’t know, the 14th or 15th century and that’s not true,” Michels said. “There was a lot discovered by the Greeks and the Romans. I always start this course out also by saying I don’t touch on everything that is going on in Asia. But, it is basically the Islamic Golden Age.”

Another J-Term off-campus course is held on the island of Roatan, Honduras, and is entitled “Roatan: Ethical Engagement in a Changing World.” This course will be led by Professor of Biology Scott Carlson and Assistant Professor of Social Work Susan Schmidt. Carlson explained that the goal of the course is unique to the island itself.

“It looks at how basic services like health care, education, and community programs are delivered in a developing world, by non-governmental organizations, mission work, and the government,” Carlson said.

These courses can be expensive, so Luther offers endowed scholarships for study abroad students. These scholarships are generally from $500 to $1,000. The Financial Aid office can help students find loans if they qualify.

“We have a growing body of endowed scholarship funds, so right now we have about $5 million in endowed and restricted funds that simply go towards helping students study abroad,” Lund said. “Lately, we’ve been awarding about $220,000 to $240,000 in actual funds to help students, and that’s not just for the J-Term courses.”

First round priority application starts Apr. 1 at 8:00 a.m. and continues until Apr. 24.

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