Immediately after commencement, students have an opportunity to combine academics with an international experience and still be back in time for summer jobs, internships, or other plans. Inaugurated in 2011, students were thrilled to study the Cold War in Eastern Europe, traveling to Berlin, Warsaw, and Budapest. There they visited the places they studied and met with art historians and other experts on tours that reinforced and enhanced their classroom experiences.
Led by their professors, most often on interdisciplinary teams, students have also explored early Celtic Ireland and Roman Britain (2012), investigated US and Japan in the Modern Era (2013, 2015 and 2017), examined the history and arts of Ancient Greece (2014), followed the history and myth of the Road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and Portugal (2016), or studied the interaction of the three great monotheistic religions in Spain (2018). In the process, students also taste a variety of local and regional cuisines, spend their leisure time exploring, shopping, or simply sitting at a café and people watching.
The Maymester is typically a six-week course. After a week of intensive study on campus and 10-14 days of travel, students return home to work on independent research projects. Many of the Maymesters offer students opportunities to satisfy core requirements, e.g., the diversity requirement (Modern Japan) or the Fine Arts core requirement (Classical Greece, Cold War in Eastern Europe, or Modern Japan).
Students find the Maymesters transformative. They relish the friendships that develop, the new perspectives they form on their studies, and a different relationship with their professors. “Exhilarating,” “Awesome,” “Amazing,” are just some of the superlatives students have used to describe their learning experience. “The history I read has somehow become more real,” claimed another.
Join us on the upcoming journey–Maymester to Korea is planned for Spring 2024!
Highlights of Maymester Courses
Maymester 2019: The US and the Cold War in Eastern Europe
On the most recent trip, students spent a few weeks on campus intensively studying the Cold War from the perspective of Eastern Europe. While in Europe, they traveled through Germany, Poland, and Hungary where they visited historic sights, museums, and memorials. Students appreciated having the opportunity to see the ways in which different artists conveyed their experiences during this time through their work.
Maymester 2018: Spain: History, Belief, Violence and Coexistence of the Three Great Monotheistic Religions
This Maymester explores the unique interaction in Spain among the three great monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, especially in central (La Mancha) and in southern (Andalusia) Iberia. Both the land of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and the terrain of the Reconquista(reconquest) offer the opportunity to examine the rich cultural intersection of religious dialogue, literary creativity, philosophical inquiry, artistic innovation and architectural inspiration as well as linguistic and ethnic mixing that resulted from the long and conflicted interface of these three faith traditions. In Providence, students will study prominent historical-theological narratives and debates associated with the three course foci as well as interactions among European Christians, Muslims and Jews (consequences that influenced later relations with Indigenous peoples in the Americas and Africans in the Atlantic World). In Iberia, students will visit important urban and rural locations associated with these three belief systems as well as attend lectures by local experts on the conquest and reconquest of the peninsula in addition to the extension of their effects into the Atlantic World.
Maymester 2017: Japan and the U.S. from 1853 to the Present
Building on two successful Japan Maymester trips (2013 and 2015), the 2017 Japan Maymester will explore the historical relationship between Japan and the U.S., with a particular focus on visual sources. This year’s Maymester once again features a strong fine arts component with an emphasis on visual literacy and digital storytelling, courtesy of Prof. Eric Sung of The Department of Art and Art History.
Maymester 2016: Spain and Portugal: History and Myth of the Road to Santiago de Compostela
This Maymester, led by Dr. Karen Holland and Fr. David Orique, O.P., traveled the same roads and visited the same sites that millions of pilgrims have journeyed for centuries. Major stops included Santiago Compostela, Madrid, and Salamanca, as well as Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra.
Maymester 2015: Japan and the U.S. from 1853 to the Present
Building on the incredibly successful 2013 Maymester in Japan (see below), this course added a new twist: a fine arts component thanks to the addition of visual literacy and digital storytelling, a component added by Dr. Eric Sung of The Department of Art and Art History.
Maymester 2014: The Rise of the Polis and the Birth of Classical Greece
The Rise of the Polis and the Birth of Classical Greece combined academic study and travel to Greece. The course surveyed ancient Greek history and showcased the archaeology, architecture, and religion of Western Civilization’s earliest foundations. The travel portion of the course included on-site lectures by archaeologists, art historians, and historians working on the sites.
Maymester 2013: The U. S. and Japan in the Modern Era
The study portion of this major economic power provided the background for travel to this “Land of the Rising Sun.” Its cultural setting dating back to 30,000 B.C. offered students an extraordinary and unforgettable experience of Japanese culture and history.
Maymester 2012: Roman Britain and Early Christian Ireland: A Clash of Cultures
A week of intense study was followed by 12 days of travel to Fishbourne Palace, Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Wall, Newgrange, Glendalough, and Skellig Michael in such exciting locations as Chichester, Newcastle, Dublin, and Kilkenny.
Maymester 2011: Cold War Flashpoints
Five days of classroom study about the Cold War era in Eastern Europe were followed by two weeks of memorable travel in Berlin, Gdansk, Warsaw, and Budapest.