Study Abroad


Winter Term Programs 

Availability varies each winter term, please contact


NEW:  Happiest Place? The Science of Happiness at Disney--Florida and California

GBL 202 US: Florida & California: Happiest Place? The Science of Happiness at Disney

In this course we will consider whether happiness can be constructed and engineered, socially and physically. We will consider happiness as it is manufactured by the Walt Disney Company and embodied at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Examining literature from sociology, psychology, economics, anthropology, humanities, arts and the natural sciences (neuroscience, biology, and behavioral genetics), students will be invited to consider the ways in which physical environments can shape individual and group experiences of happiness. We will consider happiness in a social context and with attention to the tangible and intangible costs of happiness. We will deconstruct the ways happiness is constructed and performed in the Disney setting. Emphasis is placed on the ways happiness is defined cross-culturally and on the different ways individuals and groups pursue and experience happiness. The relationship between happiness and social stratification is examined.

 The Winter Term and fall courses partially fulfill the General Studies requirement in the    area of Civilization or Society.

                              The WT course also satisfies the Experiential Learning Requirement for the General Studies requirement.

For more information, click here.

NEW:  Ecology and Sustainability--Miami, Florida

GBL 203 US: Florida, Miami: Ecology and Sustainability

Modern American life demands significant resources and creates tremendous amounts of waste.  And yet, the preservation of healthy ecosystems and the services they provide are also crucial to a healthy and productive human existence.  This Winter Term Study USA course examines 1) where resources come from, 2) how waste is processed, and 3) how local, state, and national parks maintain ecological integrity in a world dominated by humans.  We will use the operation of the City of Miami, Florida to understand behind-the-scenes logistics, and the natural resources of South Florida to learn about sustainable land management practices.

More specifically, topics covered will include modern forestry methods, water treatment, floodwater management, solid waste disposal, recycling, state and national park management practices, ecosystem services, invasive species, ecological research, the role of zoos and aquaria in conservation, and conservation practices on public and private lands.  This course will include service projects in Everglades NP, Biscayne Bay NP, and/or Big Cypress National Preserve. As a city surrounded on three sides by ecologically sensitive areas, Miami is an ideal location to study the balance between modern human life and the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. 

     The Winter Term and fall courses partially fulfill the General Studies requirement in the area of Society or Civilization.        This course will also satisfy the non-science major lab requirement.

    The WT course also satisfies the Experiential Learning Requirement for the General Studies requirement.

For more information, click here.

NEW:  The Trail Starts Here: The Iowa Caucuses--Des Moines, Iowa

GBL 207 US: Iowa: The Trail Starts Here: The Iowa Caucuses

The trail to the White House in 2016, like most recent Presidential campaigns, begins in Iowa. Some Presidential hopefuls have already made numerous visits to the state. Within the next year, many Democratic and Republican officials will be going to steak-fry and county fairs, shaking hands with the Butter Queen, and engaging in retail politics that has been a part of our culture for generations. Students often read about the arcane process of the Iowa caucuses, and how they are either the end of the road for many, while beneficial to the campaigns of others. This course allows students to fully engage with this important process.

Students will be assigned appropriate reading for this class and will have discussions about the primary/caucus process, as well as the nomination process in general. Depending on when the caucuses are held (currently scheduled for mid-January), students will fly to Iowa a week before the start of the caucuses. Once in Iowa, they will have a choice of ways in which to engage with the process. Those who are prusuing journalism can choose to work for one of the networks or a local station in Iowa. They can also elect to work for Elon student media or a consoritorium of college media. Those pursuing Political Science or Strategic Communications can choose to work for a candidate or party. Anyone, regardless of major, can choose whichever path he or she wishes once in Iowa. Students will return to Elon to wrap up and write about this experience, expanding upon the knowledge and insight gained from studying the caucuses up close and in person.

Students will need permission from the instructors to enroll in this course. They will be expected to show political awareness to the instructors.

    The Winter Term and fall courses partially fulfill the General Studies requirement in the area of Civilization OR Society.

    The WT course also satisfies the Experiential Learning Requirement for the General Studies requirement.

For more information, click here.

NEW:  Mindful America, Mindful Elon--Boston, Massachusetts

GBL 208 US: Massachusetts, Boston: Mindful America, Mindful Elon

This course is designed to help students explore the history and development of mindfulness in America and consider the influence of mindfulness practices on trends in higher education. Travel is centered in Boston, Massachusetts—an important location for mindfulness research and training. Students will also participate in a mindfulness retreat at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Western Massachusetts. Guided by their own experiences and research, students will return to Elon consider how persuasion and advocacy efforts could be used to create a more “mindful” campus. Final projects will include creative communications campaigns designed to inform and influence the Elon community.

    The Winter Term and fall courses partially fulfill the General Studies requirement in the area of Civilization OR Society in the Studies in the Arts and Sciences.

    The WT course also satisfies the Experiential Learning Requirement for the General Studies requirement.

For more information, click here.

On the Border: Arizona

The immigration debate along the southwestern border of the United States is multifaceted because of the unique geography, history and cultural interactions of the region.  In this course, students will learn about immigration from multiple perspectives and interact with numerous stakeholders along the Arizona/Sonora border.  Activities will include meetings with government officials from both countries, interaction with humanitarian groups, exposure to the unique geographical features of the Sonora Desert, presentations by scholars, experiences with artists, contact with the migrants themselves and group reflection. By the end of the course, students will engage effectively in public discourse about the complicated issue of immigration from a much broader perspective than that of the average U.S. citizen.

Experiences Include:

  •     Living Desert Museum
  •     Move to BorderLinks where students will reside
  •     Work with various humanitarian and environmental organizations ex. Humane Borders, No More Deaths, etc.
  •     Trip to Nogales, Sonora
  •     Meet with repatriated Mexicans
  •     Day with the Tohono O’odham Nation
  •     Day trip to Sasabé and Arivaca
  •     Visit El Tiradito

For more information, click here.

Hawaii: Nation or State?

This course is designed to show students the complexity of the Hawaiian islands and the fight that continues to this day for those who are in danger of losing their very identities.  We will explore the many tensions that exist in Hawaii that rest under the surface of the tourist propaganda.  From classes at the University of Hawaii to talks with native Hawaiian activists, we will look at such issues as whether Hawaii should be seen as its own nation or a state.  Historical, cultural and personal aspects of life there will be studied with the hope that students will come to understand in a deeper way the tensions between the image and the reality of the Hawaiian Islands.

Experiences Include:

  • Pearl Harbor
  • Volcanoes National Park
  • Richardson's Black Sand Beach
  • City of Refuge
  • Snorkeling tour

For more information, click here.

 Elon @ Sundance - Park City, Utah

This Communications’ course will explore the many facets of the role of the modern day film festival. Students will interact with professionals in promotions, distribution and independent filmmaking while immersing themselves in the aesthetics and culture of film. Students will spend one week at Elon, put on a small film screening, and then travel to Utah to attend a week of the Sundance Film Festival. They will research topics prior to attending the festival and complete journals and related assignments upon returning to campus.

Follow students' blogs from the festival HERE.

For more information, click here.


Wealth & Poverty - New York City

Students in this course will examine how economic globalization augments the divide between the rich and the poor in contemporary society and engage in a moral critique of the increasing disparities between wealth and poverty in our world. To that end, we will examine the ways in which people experience aspects of wealth and poverty in our world, by reading relevant philosophical and ethical resources, working with the Poverty Initiative (a grassroots organization working to end poverty in the US) and meeting with representatives of UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in New York City.  Students will also spend three days in Washington, DC exploring the topic further.  This couse fulfills upper level COR requirement and is open to students in ther third and fourth years of study.

Experiences Include

  • Working with the grassroots organization Poverty Initiative
  • Meet with United Nations representatives
  • Interact with other international non-governmental agencies
  • Walking tour of Wall Street
  • Tour of the United Nations
  • Meetings with UNICEF

For more information, click here.


Environmental Visions - Arizona & Costa Rica

This travel course offers an up-close look at two eco-futurist visions that are taking shape today: Paolo Soleri’s hyper-dense “arcology” (architecture / ecology), a prototype of which is rising in the high desert near Phoenix, Arizona; and a maximally sustainable “permaculture” (permanent agriculture) as it is being practiced and taught in the seaside rainforest at Punta Mona, Costa Rica. We will explore, study, and work at each site for about a week. Accompanying side trips – to Biosphere 2 near Tucson; to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Scottsdale and others in Costa Rica – will complement (and complicate) the two main visions. Students’ concurrent term project will be to complete a radical eco-futurist redesign of their own for Elon University. Several preparatory evening seminars and trips will be expected during Fall term.

For more information, click here.

Discovering Dixie:  Multiple Cities, Southeast USA

Today, the south is a dynamic mixture of cultures, contradictory and contested identities, complex and powerful global influences, and negotiated meanings between those who identify themselves as “southerners” and those whose perceptions of the region have been shaped by larger political, geographic, historical, cultural and stereotypical social forces.  This course explores the diverse cultures, rich histories and traditions, music, food, and locations that help create our contemporary definitions of “Dixie” and encourages students to develop a formative understanding of the region as a multi-cultural and dynamic, rapidly evolving yet perpetually “southern” influence in America.  While routing and locations vary each year, the travel portion of the course will bring students into close contact with the diversity of cultures and influences that contribute to making the south a complex and varied region and will allow them to meet and work with experts, scholars, artists, and professionals who will contextualize the academic portion of the course with their experience and insights.