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Global Engagement Seminars

A Global Engagement Seminar (GES) is an intensive, credit-bearing summer seminar taught by a team of Smith faculty offered at a location away from campus.

Global Engagement Seminars carry five credits, may not be taken S/U and consist of three parts:

  1. Mandatory meetings throughout the spring semester to prepare students academically and culturally for their experience away from campus;
  2. An intensive seminar taught by Smith faculty members in May and/or June; and
  3. A required internship or community based service learning experience following the seminar.


Admission to the seminar is by application and through the instructor's permission only. All students are welcome to apply. Preference will be given to rising juniors and seniors, and to students with previous coursework relevant to the seminar. Students must be in good standing with the college.

Frequently Asked Questions(PDF)

2016 GES

Past Global Engagement Seminars

GES 301 Jerusalem

Explores Jerusalem as a contested sacred and political space. Topics include the centrality of the city in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; archeology and the built landscape as a prism through which to understand the complicated layering of urban history and the competition between national communities; the importance of the city in contemporary Israeli and Palestinian national identities. Includes visits to sites of religious, historical, and political significance; meetings with local scholars, political figures, and community activists. Please note: this is not a course on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but rather a course on the historical and contemporary significance (religious, national, political) of the city of Jerusalem; the internships which follow the seminar must be based in Jerusalem and not elsewhere in Israel or the Palestinian territories. Students may count GES Jerusalem for credit towards the major/minor in government, Jewish studies and Middle East studies. Students may petition their departments to have the course counted towards the major/minor in ancient studies, history, medieval studies and religion. The course is followed by a required service or learning internship in Jerusalem (minimum one month). Preference will be given to students with at least one course in the history, religion, politics, literature, or languages of the Middle East. {H/L} 5 credits.

Justin Cammy (Jewish studies, comparative literature, and Middle East studies) and Ibtissam Bouachrine (Spanish and Portuguese and Middle East studies)

GES 302 Costa Rica at a Crossroads: Examination of Globalization and Sustainability

Faculty: Gary Lehring (government and study of women and gender), Amy Rhodes (geosciences)

Costa Rica is held as a model of sustainability and ecofriendly development, with legislation and regulation integral to its success. Yet, globalization is stressing the delicate balance between development on one side and human and environmental sustainability on the other. This course contests the idea that Costa Rica is a model of sustainability and examines how Costa Rica's history and politics and changing economic pressures affect resource use, conservation practices, and environmental protection, climate and biodiversity. Site visits include San Jose, Monteverde cloud forest, the Guanacaste coast, and coastal rain and mangrove forests. This GES is accepted for credit toward the following majors: GOV, GEO, SWG, and ENV. {5 credits}

Requirements: The seminar is preceded in the spring semester by a mandatory course designed to provide an intellectual framework in advance of departure. All students admitted into GES 300 are required to enroll in the predeparture course which is held on Thursdays, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Students enrolled in GES 300 must follow the seminar with an eight-week internship in Costa Rica. Some hiking over mountainous, cloud forest and rain forest terrain required. Also students should expect some accommodations to be basic.

Prerequisites: All students are welcome to apply, preference is given to rising juniors and seniors. Student selection based on application and interview. Spanish language is not required but recommended for participation in the course. It may be required for some internships.

GES 303 Greek History and Archaeology in their Geological Context

Faculty: Scott Bradbury (Classics), John Brady (Geosciences)

This seminar will explore the relationship between the historical and cultural development of Ancient Greece and the underlying geology of the Greek islands (Crete, Santorini, Syros, Delos) and mainland, (Athens/Attica, Delphi).

The pre-seminar in spring 2014 will include research and writing integral to the work of the traveling summer seminar and internship. You will need to plan your spring 2014 schedules accordingly.

Visits to key sites and museums to examine the art and archaeology of prehistoric and classical Greece as well as field study of the prominent geological features of each region. Students will study first-hand the celebrated monuments and masterpieces of the Minoan, Mycenaean and Classical Greek civilizations, and explore the region's spectacular geological features, which had a dramatic, occasionally catastrophic, impact on the course of these civilizations. Some hiking over rough terrain, including one 11-mile hike.

Following the seminar, students will remain in Athens for six-week internships in fields relevant to the seminar: geology, archaeology and museum studies. Insofar as possible, students will receive internships in a field of interest.

GES 303 will count toward the major/minor in Classics, Classical Studies, Ancient Studies and Archaeology. Preference will be given to students with at least one course in Geosciences and/or a relevant field of Ancient Studies (e.g., Art/Archaeology, Classics, History). (E) {H/N} 5 credits

GES 304 Federico Garcia Lorca, Hidden and Revealed: An Itinerary of Life

In this course we will study the artistic trajectory of Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, one of the most influential poets and dramatists of the 20th century. Beginning with his years in Madrid, which he spent at the Residencia de Estudiantes, we will analyze the philosophical, political and aesthetic contexts, which shaped his personality as a creative artist. These include his work as a musician, designer, stage director and writer. Lorca's journey to New York in 1929 will be explored through close reading of the two fundamental texts written while he was in the United States: The Public and Poet in New York. In approaching the figure of this creative artist, a sensitive barometer of his time, we encounter a modern, vibrant Spain, in the vanguard of arts and science, soon to be destroyed by the Spanish Civil War. The course consists of close reading of the texts in their original versions, analysis, and discussion; daily lectures by faculty; and intensive investigation of archives (in Madrid) and sites of cultural importance (in Cordoba, Granada and Seville). Through the study of dramatic texts, plus the application of actor-training methodologies, we will bring stories from the page to stage for a final presentation in Spanish. Performance strategies will be utilized during the course to enhance foreign language skills. The classroom seminar will be followed by a required service or learning internship in either Cordoba or Madrid. (E) {H/L/A} 5 credits.

Maria Estela Harretche (Spanish and Portuguese), Ellen W. Kaplan (Theatre)

GES 306: India in Transition: Contrast, Complexity, Creativity

India is a land of contrasts. Modern cities and industries based on the very latest technologies sit side by side with rural areas that have changed little over the past centuries. Urban cultures exude modernity and mobility while rural cultures hold to tradition and caste. Gender roles are in flux. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow. In this seminar we will examine how India and Indians deal with these contradictions, both philosophically and economically. Do Hindu and Buddhist notions of suffering provide a justification for these contrasts or a path for reconciling them? Can India adopt modernity while still maintaining its cultural and religious identity? Is social and economic inequality concomitant with development? In this seminar we will look critically at these questions through readings, lectures and direct experience. We will visit both urban and rural areas in the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, including Chennai, Puducherry, Auroville, Kodaikanal, Madurai, Periyar and Kochi, and talk with those who are themselves struggling with these questions and their solution.

We welcome applications from students in all years and majors. Priority will be given to students with some exposure to South Asia through their coursework in areas such as sociology, anthropology, religion, philosophy, economics, microfinance, women and transgender issues, government, the environmental sciences, or traditional and modern arts and craft. All work will be in English, but students will learn enough conversational Tamil to be able to interact in markets or on the street. The course is followed by a required internship in South India for a minimum of one month. Enrollment limited to 10. (E) {H/S} 5 credits

Nalini Bhushan (Philosophy), Charles Staelin (Economics)
Offered Spring/Summer 2015