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Semester Study in the Yucatán


Semester Study in the Yucatán details
Informational brochure (PDF)

In the Spring of 2011, Millsaps will offer its first semester-long study abroad program.  Students participating in the program will spend the semester doing field-based learning and research in the Yucatán. This program was created and designed by Dr. Eric Griffin (Director of the Latin American Studies and English Department Chair), Dr. George Bey (Associate Dean of International Education and Anthropology Professor), Dr. Andrew Paxman (Assistant Professor of History) and Prof. Harvey Fiser (Associate Professor of Business Law).  The school's ability to offer this opportunity has "grown out of our department's efforts in the Yucatán," says Dr. Bey.

Dr. Jessica Piekielek, ACS Mellon postdoctoral fellow in environmental anthropology, will teach one course as part of the program.  Her course is on culture and environment in the Yucatán and will have three major foci (food, culture and agriculture; cultivation and communities; and globalization in the Yucatán).  The class will routinely combine readings and seminar style classes with experience based lessons.  She plans to take students to local farms and possibly even a cooking class to learn about food and agriculture in the Yucatán. At the end of the semester students will travel with Dr. Piekielek to the Caribbean coast to visit ecotourism sites and enjoy the beaches.  She describes this semester as "the first step in expanding long-term study abroad programs at Millsaps."

Tomás Gallareta Negrón, the Millsaps Scholar of Maya Studies and a member of the Sociology/Anthropology Department will also offer a course. He is also co-director of the Millsaps Summer research program at Kiuic along with Dr. Bey. His spring semester course is called "Reading the Maya Ruins" and will focus on the art and architecture of the ancient Maya. The course will include trips to several major Maya centers, some actual archaeological field work and a trip to Chiapas to visit the sites of Palenque and Yaxchilan.

The program costs the same as a semester at Millsaps and covers sixteen semester hours plus a two-hour Spanish course. Students will stay at the three Millsaps facilities in Mérida, Oxcutzkub, and the bio-culture reserve at Kaxil Kiuic.  There will also be daytrips to the surrounding areas, such as the Caribbean, and an extended spring break for personal travel. 

Courses will be offered on a block schedule with  each course lasting about three weeks.  The courses will include ENGL 3750 South of the Border: Visions of Mexico in Anglo-American Literature, Film, and Popular Song, HIST 4750 Colonial Yucatán and the Atlantic World, SOAN 3110 Reading the Maya Ruins: Building Form, Function, and Meaning, and SOAN 3120 Contemporary Culture and Environment in the Yucatán. All courses can apply as either Anthropology or Latin American studies credit.

Dr. Griffin, who will be teaching the English and history courses, describes the semester as a comprehensive interdisciplinary immersion experience.  Students will study how American and English fiction portrays Mexico in the 20th century in South of the Border, and take a trip to the past in Colonial Yucatán.

Dr. Griffin says, "study abroad is the single coolest thing you can do in college." Anybody interested in the program should contact Dr. Bey or Dr. Griffin.