Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Interim 2016: Courses in North, Central and South America

Study in North America

ENGL W40 New England Saints.  In the mid-nineteenth century, a group of New England writers created a body of literature dealing with significant religious, philosophical, and artistic questions that challenged conventional understandings of the world.  This course deals with these authors and their questions, grappling with the way their writing and their lives challenge contemporary Christians.  It studies Hawthorne and his reaction to the Puritan tradition, the transcendentalists and their uneasy union of philosophy and literature and spirit and practical life, and the Romantics and their departure from Emerson.  After reading Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Alcott, Longfellow, Whittier, Hawthorne, and Bradford, the group travels to a living history experience in Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts, to enter the period, and then to Concord, for on-site discovery, examination, and discussion with local academics and historians.  The class remains in New England for the entire interim, visiting Salem, Cape Cod and Plymouth, Lowell, Boston, Amherst, and Springfield.  The objective in each case is to unite the students reading, their experience on site, and their own wrestling with what it means to be a Christian writer, artist, and thinker.  This course may fulfill an elective in the various English programs. Course dates: January 6-26.  Fee:  $2,475.  D. Hettinga, G. Schmidt.  Off campus.

IDIS W12 New Orleans: Space, Place and Race.  New Orleans conjures up a diverse set of associations: the beautiful architecture of the French Quarter, Creole cuisine, Jazz, manmade and natural disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, and Mardi Gras to name a few. Using the text, “Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas,” by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, this interim will investigate the vibrant city of New Orleans through the reinvention of the traditional atlas. The culture of this complex city will be explored through interwoven themes of geography, music, food, ecology, ethnicity, history, art, religion, commerce, and celebration. Cross Cultural Engagement will be integral to this interim as the culture of New Orleans is born from its diverse ethnic heritage beginning with the Houma tribe of Native Americans. After the French colony sold New Orleans to the United States in 1803, the city grew rapidly with influxes of Americans, French, Creoles, and Africans. Despite its role in the slave trade, New Orleans had the largest and most prosperous community of free persons of color in the nation, who were often educated and middle-class property owners. Later immigrants were Irish, German, and Italians, and most recently Arab, forming a city noted for its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. The text, “The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change” by Brenda Salter McNeil and Rick Richardson will inform this interim’s engagement with New Orleans and provide context for student reflection. Students will spend fourteen days in New Orleans, exploring the city and meeting with various residents who study and shape the culture of the city in a variety of ways. This course will fulfill the CCE requirement. Course dates:  January 6-26. Fee: $2998.  J. Steensma-Hoag.  Off campus.

IDIS W60 Sustaining Hawaii.  How do you feed a million people – not to mention plane loads of tourists – in an archipelago that is 2500 miles from everywhere else?   This course explores how global and local forces have intersected in Hawaii over the past two centuries and how sustainability, preservation, and diversification have become today’s most pressing concerns.  Our two-week stay in Hawaii includes trips to sustainable homesteads, farmers’ markets, cultural centers, historic sites, and nature preserves.  Learning from Hawaiian films, publications, and leaders in Hawaii’s sustainability movement, students gain insights from ancient Hawaii’s ahupua’a (watershed) system that interconnected nature and societal structures.  This system, along with the original Hawaiians’ values and language elements connected to the land, now informs the state’s current efforts to become more self-sufficient.  Indeed, by exploring Hawaiian concepts like malama ‘aina (caring for the land), we gain invaluable insights into our own efforts to care for God’s creation.  That is why many find this integral cross-cultural engagement (CCE) experience to be invaluable.  This course will fulfill the CCE requirement.  Prerequisites: Living World core course and Societal Structures in North America core.  Course dates:   January 6-26. Fee: $3500. D. Koetje.  Off campus.

IDIS W81 Urban Education: Poverty & Schooling.  Participants in this course will develop an understanding of the challenges of urban education with a particular emphasis on the effects of poverty on learning. Several schools that serve students in the urban environment will be explored. Participants will visit private and public schools in Chicago and Milwaukee. Particular emphasis will be given to the Cross Trainers Academy (CTA), a Christian school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin whose origins are in providing schooling to students who are homeless and who live in the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. Participants will live in the Mission, will aide in classrooms of CTA, and will visit other schools involved in urban education. Participants will engage in a multiple experiences designed to explore aspects of educating students who live an urban schooling experience. Participants will learn from educators who coordinate programs for and who teach students in urban schools where a majority of students live at or below the poverty line.  Participants will also read from authors who are engaged in this work, critiquing their ideas and investigate challenges associated with living in large urban settings, including urban migration,  decay, and revitalization.  Participants will also visit schools that educate students in an urban setting, comparing program strengths and challenges of schools located in Chicago, IL, and Milwaukee, WI,  and aide in classrooms of the Cross Trainers Academy during  stay in Milwaukee.  This course may fulfill an elective in the Urban Studies minor.  This course will fulfill the CCE requirement.  Prerequisites: Education 102, SOC 151 or permission of the instructor.  Course dates: January 6-26. Fee: $1150.  P. Stegink. Off campus.

SOC W40 Hollywood - A Sociological Perspective.  This course provides students with an opportunity to analyze Hollywood using their sociological imagination.  Recognizing that media is a primary source of socialization, as well as an instrumental tool for teaching and inculcation, it is important to academically and critically consider the central source of media production: Los Angeles, California. Students will learn about the frontstage and backstage of Hollywood which involves: 1) Becoming media literate by gaining a conscientious and deeper understanding of how media is made, how it works, and how it influences people. 2) Learning fundamentals of media and Hollywood history. 3) Developing a critical lens by learning how to ask key questions that breakdown the frontstage and reveal the backstage, and 4) Applying that critical lens to various topics such as media control, demographics (e.g. race, gender), celebrity, and faith. Days 1 and 2 of interim will be spent on campus learning in a classroom environment.  Travel to Los Angeles occurs days 3 through 13 involving touring significant landmarks, visiting media production sites, and interviewing industry insiders.  Students will also spend time in the lesser-known areas learning about the people and institutions whose lives may not reflect the glamour and glitz associated with Hollywood.  On days 14 and 15 students will present their group projects demonstrating the most salient aspects of learning from the Interim.  This course may fulfill an elective in the Sociology major.  Course dates: January 6-26. Fee: $2,365. E. Marr. Off campus.

IDIS W44 Disney, Culture, & Progress.  Walt Disney World projects a vision of global progress in cross-cultural engagement, scientific and technological innovation, environmental sustainability, and global citizenship.  But this message of progress is often contested, and such a singular presentation raises a multitude of questions.  Have we really progressed when there is so much violence, inequality, interethnic hostility and discrimination, environmental deterioration, and misuse of technology?  How can we reconcile ideas of progress with the reality of a fallen world?  Can we identify a global vision of progress, or are these ideas merely a veiled presentation of the “American dream?”  This course equips students to explore cross-cultural understandings of progress.  Students will learn how culture can facilitate or impede progress, and learn how different cultures differently understand the concept of progress. A significant portion of the class will take place off-campus at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where students will explore representations of human progress in science, technology, cross-cultural engagement, environmental protection, and global citizenship.  During this visit we will reflect on some key questions: What does it take to progress towards a more sustainable future?  Are we called to be global citizens or rooted in our local communities?  Is progress a Western, liberal concept, or can we understand progress within our own cultural communities?  How does our understanding of progress impact the way we engage across cultures?  Most importantly, are there particular visions of progress that Christians should or should not endorse?  Students will consider these questions individually and collectively through group discussions, experiences with partners, reflective written responses, and a final class presentation.  This course may fulfill an elective in the Political Science and International Relations major.  This course will fulfill the CCE requirement.  Course dates: January 6-26.  Fee: $2345.  R. McBride.  Off campus.

GEOL 153 Big Sky Geology: Montana (MAY)(4 semester hours). This course in geology is based in southwest Montana. Southwest Montana offers superb field exposures and is within driving distance of outstanding geological localities including Yellowstone National Park and Craters of the Moon National Monument. This course fulfills the physical science core requirement, and emphasizes outdoor, field-based investigation and learning. Students will be introduced to the breadth of geological study leading to responsible Christian appreciation and stewardship of Earth, including rocks and minerals, landforms and surficial processes, geological hazards, and natural resources. Field activities are an important part of each day and the field experience will complement morning lecture and lab activities. As a graded course, exams will cover lecture and text, and students will be required to complete lab assignments, construct a written field log, and choose a special field project. Not open to students who have completed Geology/Geography 120, Geology 151or Geology 112. NOTE:  This 2-week Interim in May course begins immediately after spring commencement, and includes 4 on-campus, Thursday evening sessions (6-8pm) in April.  Course dates: May 23 - June 6.  Fee $1300. G. Van Kooten. Off campus.

Study in Central America

FREN W80 Interim to Cap Haitien, Haiti.  Calvin students spend three weeks exploring the region around Cap Haitien and working with and teaching French to the student orphans of the EBAC Christian Academy and orphanage in Morne Rouge. EBAC houses approximately 120 children from pre-school through high school. Course work at EBAC is currently conducted in English using American home-schooling methods. However, since French is a co-official language of Haiti (along with Haitian Creole), these students must have a mastery of French in order to progress in their studies at a Haitian university or to find gainful employment beyond their immediate neighborhood. The two missionaries who run EBAC would like to strengthen the French instruction with the help of Calvin students. Calvin students are also exposed to Haitian Creole and gain basic language skills in Haitian Creole during their time in Haiti. Calvin students are housed at the Joshua House Missionary Lodge in Cap Haitien. Depending on weather, excursions are planned to the Citadel (a world heritage site) and other regional points of interest.  This course may fulfill an elective in the French major and minor as well as the African Diaspora minor. This course will fulfill the CCE requirement. Prerequisites:  French 202.  Course dates: January 4-22. Fee: $2985.  J. Vos-Camy.  Off campus.

IDIS W14 Exploring Honduras from Coast to Coast.  This course provides students the opportunity to dig deep and see the many sides of Honduras. Students participate with dozens of Honduran cyclists in an 8-day trek from Honduras’ Atlantic cost in the North to the Pacific coast in the South. In 8 cities along the way, students have the opportunity to learn about the issues of education in Honduras, meet its best students and hear what the Transform Honduras movement is doing to improve education around the country. Students also spend time immersed in Honduras’ history in the Mayan city of Copan, experience snorkeling in its beautiful coral reefs, spend a week living with Honduran families in a small town outside the capital and hear from Honduran leaders in the nation’s capital to learn about the tough issues this Honduras is facing and what is being done to bring about change.  This course will fulfill the CCE requirement.  Course dates: January 2-24.  Fee: $2870.  K. Ver Beek.  Off campus.

IDIS W80 Eye Care in Mexico.  Lack of access to corrective lenses is a major problem for people in areas that are medically underserved.  In contrast, in the US thousands of glasses are discarded everyday as prescriptions change.  Used glasses can, however, be put to good use when volunteer eye care professionals and assistants visit underserved areas to perform eye examinations and provide patients with glasses that most closely match their refractive error.  The students in this course will spend 13 days in Tijuana, Mexico and vicinity with an ophthalmologist and an ocular physiologist, performing eye exams and dispensing glasses. The course will take place in the context of church development activities of Christian Reformed World Missions in Mexico.  The goals of the course are to study ocular function and pathology, learn about medical missions and international development, participate in and critically evaluate a service-learning experience and provide glasses to an under-served population. The course will begin with three days of class on campus introducing ocular biology, training in vision screening techniques and orienting students to Mexican culture. Students will help to collect and prepare glasses for distribution and will read literature related to the course. The class will travel via San Diego, CA to Mexico. Clinics will be set up in churches where the students will interview patients, perform vision exams, serve as translators and dispense glasses under supervision of the ophthalmologist. On the final weekend students will visit the UC-San Diego medical school and participate in recreational and Calvin alumni activities in San Diego.  The course is intended for pre-optometry, pre-medical, pre-physician assistant, pre-nursing, nursing and public health students. This course may fulfill an interim elective in the Nursing major.  This course will fulfill the CCE requirement.  Prerequisite:  one course in biology.  Courses in anatomy or physiology and Spanish are desirable, but not required.  Course dates: January 6-25. Fee: $1500.  L. Gerbens, J. Ubels.  Off campus.

KIN W10 Costa Rica River & Rainforest Expedition.  This 24-day cross-cultural wilderness expedition features rainforest mountain and river travel through remote and preserved areas of central and coastal Costa Rica. Students will gain professional instruction in rainforest backpacking, swift water rescue, white-water kayaking, and surfing; experience cultural life through seven diverse home stays and daily interaction with Tiko instructors; and explore diverse ecological zones of the central mountains, rivers, and coastal marine environments of Costa Rica.   The first phase consists of an eight day backpacking descent from high elevation cloud forest to low elevation tropical rainforest.   During this trek, students will master backcountry living and travel skills, as well as gaining introductory knowledge regarding the diverse ecological systems.  Following three nights of rainforest camping, students will enter the homestay phase.  During this trek students will enjoy cultural and Spanish language immersion experiences through home stays with Costa Rican families in remote rainforest communities.  Following the trek, students will trade backpacks for whitewater boats.  Over the next six days, participants will gain hard shell kayak instruction and a complete a 2 day Whitewater Rescue Technician course.  Following the white-water phase, students will travel to the internationally renowned Corcovado National Park for an additional four days of park ranger guided coastal rainforest backpacking and ecological study.  The course will conclude with three days of surf instruction, a sea turtle habitat restoration project, and general exploration of the marine environments of the magnificent Pacific coast.  Along with gaining wilderness and whitewater travel skills, students will develop cross-cultural awareness as they interact on a daily level with remote Costa Rican communities and Tico instructors. This course will fulfill the CCE requirement.  Course Dates: January 4- 27. Fee: $3630.  R. Rooks, D. Vander Griend.  Off campus.

NURS W60 Belize: A Nursing Experience.  Immerse yourself in the health issues and nursing care of the people of the small developing country of Belize, Central America. Belize is both geographically and culturally diverse with mountains, rain-forests and the largest coral reef in this hemisphere! Explore health concerns and care strategies for a culturally, socially and economically varied nation of seven distinct groups including Creole, Mayan, Taiwanese, Garifuna and others. Nursing students have the opportunity to serve in community clinics, private hospitals, struggling government hospitals, mental health half-way house & an orphanage. Students learn from local herbalists, traditional midwives and folk healers.  Students take an excursion to Guatemala for 3 days to explore the contrast in health care and culture of these two developing countries. Students will also have the opportunity to live in a Mayan village absorbing the culture firsthand. Students learn about village health needs and the role of the traditional birthing assistant. Students meet four times in the fall to enhance preparation for this experience. Clinical experiences, cultural events, reflective discussion and informal lectures contribute to the learning in this interim. Course goals are that students demonstrate Christian nursing care, understand cultural health care and adapt nursing skills to a variety of settings. Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of at least one semester of nursing courses and permission of the faculty.  Course dates:  January 6-26.  Fee: $2990.  R. Boss Potts.  Off campus.

SPAN W80 Spanish in the Yucatan.  Students spend three weeks immersed in Mexican culture and Spanish language in Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatan. Merida has a population of one million and offers a colonial past, strong Mayan influence in the present, and intensive globalization as it faces the future. It is the site of two universities and several mission organizations. Students live with Mexican families and attend lecture and discussion classes focusing on aspects of Mexican culture such as Mexican and Mayan history, the history of Catholicism and Protestantism in Mexico, and the current political and economic context. Students also participate in excursions to Mayan ruins and attend religious and cultural events. Student learning objectives are to improve comprehension and fluency in the Spanish language, increase understanding of various cultural and religious phenomena of Mexico and particularly of Yucatan, and grow in personal maturity and awareness of cultural differences.  This course may fulfill an elective in the Spanish and IDS programs.  This course will fulfill the CCE requirement.  Prerequisites: Spanish 201 and permission of instructor.  Course dates: January 6-27. Fee: $2192.  S. Lamanna, M. Pyper.  Off campus.

Study in South America

BIOL W80 Ecology of the Amazon Rainforest.  The Amazon River Basin is home to the largest rainforest on Earth. At roughly the size of the contiguous United States it is a repository of ecological goods and services not only for local tribes and communities, but also for the rest of the world. Participants in this course investigate the ecology, evolution, and natural history of the Amazon rainforest and are introduced to some of the customs and diverse cultures of the Ecuadorian people. Daily fieldwork combines plant and animal identification with an investigation of ecological processes and an evaluation of human impacts. Particular attention will be given to discussions on cross-cultural issues and to our Biblical calling to be Earth keepers. Students travel to Ecuador to visit the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and the Yasuni National Park. Daily excursions include camping, hiking, bird-watching, and canoeing. This course may fulfill an elective in the Biology major.  This course will fulfill the CCE requirement.  Prerequisites: Biology 225 and permission of the instructor. Course dates: January 6-26.  Fee: $3900.  C. Blankespoor.  Off campus.