Wingate University juniors with a faraway look in their eyes may well be considering where they most want to travel next spring. W’International, the University’s signature study abroad program, announced five new opportunities during a virtual reveal on Oct. 13.
W’International courses — the first since Covid put the program on pause more than two years ago — will kick off in January and culminate in May with 10 days of international travel as students experience firsthand in Italy, Portugal, Germany, Costa Rica or Denmark, what they’ve studied about in class all semester.
Thanks to generous University support, they can travel for just $1,500. But first, they’ll have to qualify with a minimum of 57 credit hours and a GPA of at least 2.5, to have their name and top three choices entered into a lottery. Those who sign up between now and Nov. 1 will be placed into class lists and waitlists by Nov. 10, with final class rosters to be determined before the beginning of the spring semester.
Students headed to Italy will be studying “Agriturismo, the Marriage of Tourism, Cuisine, and Agriculture” with Dr. Erika Niland, chair of the Biology Department. Her class will focus on Italian cuisine and how tourism has impacted the economic development of family farms and sustainable agriculture in Italy. They’ll also compare what they learn about Italy to agritourism in the United States. Topics will include farm sustainability, carbon footprints, the “Greenhouse Movement,” pesticide laws and more.
Dr. James Hastings, associate professor of history, will take students to Portugal to explore how such a small country on the western edge of Europe became a world power in the 15th century and then later declined. They’ll examine aspects of Portuguese history and culture as reflected in art, architecture, music and society as they take walking tours of Lisbon and Coimbra and visit traditional neighborhoods, Moorish fortresses, castles, monasteries, churches, a 13th-century university and other edifices built with wealth from the trade of slaves and spices.
“Persuaded to Persecute” is the name of Dr. Patrick Young’s course about Germany. Young, who chairs Wingate’s psychology department, will lead students through a social psychological examination of the persecution in Nazi Germany and the resultant consequences of communist East Germany. They’ll learn how Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime used social psychology to spread terror, hate and destruction as they explore World War II memorials and visit the Berlin wall and other Cold War sites.
Costa Rica will be the host country for Dr. Tarra Ellis, associate professor of education, and her students as they study the Intersection of education and environmentalism in Central America. Home stays will be a significant part of this learning experience as students engage with local families. Their travel itinerary will include educational excursions to a wildlife rescue ranch, beach, volcano, waterfall and hot springs, as well as elementary and high schools. Participants will explore significant cultural, historical, and environmental sites.
Students in Dr. Alison Brown’s W’International course will delve into Denmark and why Danes are reportedly among the healthiest and happiest people on earth. A professor of biology, Brown will lead students in a study of Danish culture, lifestyle, and attitude, emphasizing aspects of healthy living. They’ll compare the various rewards and challenges of the Danish culture to U.S. culture by focusing on various aspects of healthy and “hygge” (cozy) living. Topics will include the history of modern Denmark and the Scandinavian healthcare system and welfare state.
“We couldn’t be more excited about these new opportunities for our students,” says Jennifer Armentrout, the University’s executive director of global engagement. She’s encouraging eligible juniors to share their top three course choices and to make plans for next steps such as applying for a passport and making sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations.
“Right now, our on-site partners strongly encourage Covid vaccination but do not require it, but it’s hard to predict what requirements will be in place seven months from now,” she says. “Wingate will require whatever our partners require.”