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  • Locations: Florence, Italy; Madrid, Spain; Padua, Italy; Rome, Italy; Salamanca, Spain
  • Program Terms: Spring Break
  • Program Homepage: Click here
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Grinnell Approval Deadlines/Program Dates:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Language of Study: English, Spanish Campus Program Advisor: Aysha Pollnitz, Miram Perez
Min. GPA: 2.75 Housing: Hostel/Hotel
Program Description:

Liberal education in the Old World

This interdisciplinary course will offer first-year students an opportunity to reflect critically on the global heritage of the liberal arts and sciences. The travel portion of the class will take part in two periods: first, a European trip over Spring Break and second a Summer trip to Mexico City. These travels will take the class to sites in the Old and New World where the study of the liberal arts and sciences flourished between circa 500AD and 1800AD.  How and why did great empires and small towns, rich churches and mendicant religious orders, great universities and itinerant teachers, powerful European princes and indigenous children all value liberal education?  The study of the ars liberales has frequently been put in the service of narrow ideological and confessional interest, over-mighty authority, and the maintenance of privilege but we will investigate whether it has simultaneously provided its pupils with the intellectual capacity and motivation to resist their teachers.  For over 1000 years and on several continents, students of the liberal arts and sciences have been developing new ways of transmitting knowledge in and through literature, art, architecture, spectacle, collections, and cultural and urban spaces.  This course will encourage Grinnell students to examine these creations and consider the global dimensions of their own liberal education from the perspective offered by the past.

Learning goals:
  • To examine the origins of liberal education in Europe and its translation to the Americas.
  • To examine the transformation of the idea, methods, and value of liberal education over time—more particularly, how the classical ars liberalis has been adapted to propagate Christianity and serve various political cultures including princely, aristocratic, republican, colonial, democratic regimes.
  • To explore the history of liberal education (500BC-1800AD) through analysis of its literary, artistic, architectural, urban, and cultural productions studied in situ.
  • To investigate the evolving relationships between liberal education and other forms of learning, including indigenous practices, artisanal training, and professional study.
  • To research the complementary and competing roles of aural culture, reading and writing, printing, images and iconography, observation and experimentation, spectacle and drama in the gathering and transmission of knowledge.
  • To consider the role of technologies in the transmission of knowledge.
  • To study the spaces (including schools and universities) devoted to learning between 500BC and 1800AD and examine the ways in which they were separated from and integrated with their surrounding environs.
  • To evaluate the ways in which European and American students of liberal education have used their learning.


Spring Break 2016
  • Travel Day - Des Moines-Newark/Chicago- Rome | 4 days - Rome
  • Train to Padua | 2 days - Padua
  • Train to Florence | 4 days - Florence
  • Travel Day - Madrid via plane & Madrid-Salamanca via train | 3 days - Salamanca 
  • Return to Madrid, one night, and depart for US on April 2

This program is currently not accepting applications.