The Maymester, first session, and second session course schedules will be available in YES. Please note that course offerings are subject to change. In rare instances courses are canceled due to a variety of factors, including insufficient enrollment. See the Summer Sessions calendar for additional important dates.
|Jan 11, 2024 by 4:00 p.m.||Deadline to apply for Maymester scholarships|
|Jan 31, 2024||Deadline to apply for a Maymester course*|
|Feb 15, 2024||Deadline to complete the Commitment to Attend form|
|TBD||Deposit fee assessed to Student Accounts invoice|
*The application deadline is only for off-campus and abroad Maymester courses. Online course registration for on-campus Maymester and summer courses will take place March 25, 2024.
Students must submit all application materials, including personal statement and academic references, by January 31. A link to each course’s application is available in the Courses section below. Professors will accept students on a rolling basis. Additional requirements will apply after acceptance.
Once students have been accepted into a Maymester course, they must confirm their acceptance by signing a virtual “Commitment to Attend” by February 15, 2024. This commitment will appear on the student’s GEO application once she or he has been accepted into the course.
Students are strongly encouraged to sign this document as soon as possible in order to accommodate waitlisted students. If a student fails to sign this document by the February 15 deadline, his or her position in the course may be made available to waitlisted students.
Please note: Under-enrolled courses may be cancelled. Students who have applied to such courses will be notified at the earliest opportunity. Students who have financial holds or are on social or academic probation are ineligible for Maymester courses. Acceptance into a Maymester course is also contingent on the instructor's approval.
If a student withdraws from the Maymester course after the February 15 commitment deadline, he or she will forfeit a $500 deposit fee.*
The deposit fee will be assessed directly to your Student Accounts invoice, and will be billed on or around June 1. The deposit fee applies only to those who withdraw after the specified deadline. Those who withdraw before the deadline will not be assessed the fee.
Vanderbilt University charges a deposit fee in order to get an accurate count of participants to plan our programs effectively. Students who back out of a program after committing may jeopardize both the planning and the pricing of the program, which affects other students. We impose a monetary penalty on those who withdraw after the deadline as a way of ensuring that we count only those who are serious about attending.
*Vanderbilt reserves the right to bill students for any unrecoverable costs, even if these costs amount to more than the $500 base withdrawal fee.
Vanderbilt will provide, on a competitive basis, scholarships to help undergraduate students pay the costs of studying abroad during the summer, including the Maymester courses. The Global Summer Fellows Program will provide university stipends that can be used to offset the costs of Vanderbilt-approved, credit-bearing, summer study and Maymester programs. These are competitive awards based on the student's essay, major, and letters of reference, and are linked to the student's financial need.
MAYMESTER IN THE CARIBBEAN
This course focuses on the under and above water ecology of the Caribbean Island of Utila, Honduras. Through a combination of above land excursions and scuba diving it seeks to provide a better understanding of ecologies as wide, and deep interrelated webs of interactions – reaching beyond the water’s surface. Students will be immersed in both, the history, culture, and the development of the contemporary Caribbean, as well as its famous underwater world and how it emerged through history.
Above the surface, we will explore the terrestrial ecology and history of the island through hikes, kayaking the mangroves, visiting freshwater caves, but also exploring the power plant and waste-treatment facilities, relating both to the history of the island occupation as well as contemporary tourism.
Students will learn how to scuba dive to explore the underwater world around the island. Through scuba diving we will explore the underwater ecology (fish and corals), but also its role for tourism – and how they are linked to the history of the island (shoreline construction, run off of waste-water, or fishing etc.), as well as broader global issues, such as global warming.
As part of this course, students will learn how to scuba dive and receive certifications as Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Fish Identification, Coral Identification, and Coral health. All certifications are based on PADI (the world’s largest (and safest) organization for professional divers) and supervised by the course instructor.
Check out this youtube link for a past experience: https://youtu.be/SX83kSmgZ5k
Approximate total cost: $15,149
MAYMESTER IN FRANCE AND SPAIN
This course looks at the phenomenon of revolution through the history and present political traditions of two cities that have been at the heart of major political upheavals for the last two-hundred fifty years: Paris and Barcelona.
A revolution is a momentous period in which people make history by purposely changing the political balance of power. It is also a collective performance in which people who have lived lives outside of customary statecraft suddenly create rituals to refuse an old order and inaugurate a new one. Street protests aspire to embody national popular sovereignty and can claim it through surprisingly ceremonial action. A crowd moves from fighting with police to intoning the national anthem. A plaza filled with people declares itself a popular assembly representing the city, or the country. The burning down of a jail becomes the symbolic birth of a democratic nation.
The vast majority of governments worldwide trace their legitimacy to a revolution. And modern ideas of revolution can, in part, be traced to the French Revolution, led largely by metropolitan Paris. Likewise, socialist revolutionaries look back to the Paris Commune of 1871 and anarchists also to the Spanish Republic, which achieved greatest transformation in Catalunya from 1936 to 1939. Student, youth, and labor protests combined in France’s extraordinary May 1968 uprising. These diverse revolutions have shaped the meaning of political action in both cities and the countries of which they are a part. Workers, racial minorities, squatters, nationalists, and political radical continue to use revolutionary ideas, symbols, and tactics in contemporary movements in both cities.
Approximate total cost: $14,128
MAYMESTER IN KOREA
Discover South Korea: the home of BTS, BLACKPINK and Twice, the country behind ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Parasite’, and the origin of Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Hyundai Motors, etc.
A dynamic and innovative country, South Korea has captured the hearts of countless enthusiasts around the world with its popular culture. Superstars such as BTS, BLACKPINK and Twice are at the forefront of the K-Pop sensation, while works such as ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Parasite’ have brought K-Drama and K-Movie into the international spotlight more than ever before. Moreover, South Korea has undergone remarkable economic transformation over the past few decades, turning into one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies. Today, South Korea is one of the US’s largest trading partners and is a global leader in IT technology. South Korea also has a storied history and lies at the center of one of the world’s most complex geopolitical situations. The security alliance between the US and South Korea is notable for its longevity and key role on the Korean peninsula.
This program offers one week of basic Korean language education, as well as various cultural and business excursions such as K-pop dance class, cooking class, famous site visits in Seoul, three-day overnight trip, day trips, etc. Students will be able to further develop a fresh perspective and appreciation for South Korea and its culture, history, and economy through a uniquely immersive experience.
Approximate total cost: $13,955
MAYMESTER IN CHINA
China, celebrated for its rich and diverse cultural heritage, has emerged as a global leader in the domains of manufacturing, technology, and sustainable energy in recent years. Over the past few decades, China has experienced an extraordinary period of economic growth and profound social transformation, lifting over 800 million people out of poverty, and significantly enhancing their overall quality of life.
This course is meticulously designed to offer an in-depth exploration of China's multifaceted rise. Our primary objective is to provide a comprehensive perspective on China's remarkable journey, transcending sensationalized headlines and common narratives. By delving into its cultural heritage and examining the key drivers of its rapid ascent, we aim to present a thorough and unbiased understanding of this extraordinary nation.
Approximate total cost: $12,090
MAYMESTER IN CHINA
As a blend of art, history, and culture, calligraphy is a quintessential part of Chinese heritage. This immersive course offers a unique opportunity to explore the rich and captivating world of Chinese calligraphy right at its place of origin: China. Through hands-on practice, historical exploration, and engaging field trips, students will gain a profound understanding of the artistic and cultural significance of Chinese calligraphy.
Upon completing this course, students will acquire the skills to practice Chinese calligraphy across a range of script styles, including seal, clerical, standard, and running script. Learning Chinese calligraphy in China, students have the opportunity to engage with professional calligraphers. These experts will share their skills, techniques, and insights directly with students through live demonstrations and workshop, providing students with a personalized and enriching learning experience.
To develop a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted dimensions of Chinese calligraphy, including its interwoven relationship with history, philosophy and other Chinese traditional cultures, students will embark on illuminating excursions and field trips. Almost every museum in China houses an extensive collection of Chinese calligraphy. The Stele Forest Museum in Xi’an, in particular, is a themed museum that has the largest collection of steles bearing Chinese calligraphy in the world. By visiting these museums and other historical sites, students will not only see the authentic calligraphic works spanning different dynasties but also learn the process of creating rubbings from steles, carving seals, and making brush pens and paper.
Furthermore, this course will provide insight into the contemporary relevance of Chinese calligraphy in modern China. China is home to numerous prestigious universities and institutions that offer calligraphy majors. Visiting these programs allows our students to connect with local students majoring in calligraphy. This peer interaction can be intellectually stimulating, fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas, perspectives, and collaborative opportunities that enrich the overall learning experience.
More information is available here.
Approximate total cost: $13,268
MAYMESTER IN INDONESIA
This course explores the religious beliefs and practices along with other cultural expression on the island of Bali. Bali is a Hindu-majority island in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. Unlike many other Hindu communities outside of South Asia, whose origins date to the era of British colonialism, the Balinese Hindu tradition is nearly two thousand years old and, along with the greater Sanskritic cultural worldview, has had considerable impact on Balinese and Indonesian culture. Practices throughout the island – artistic expression, social systems, healing, agriculture, and similar – display the lasting influence of the Indic legacy in Indonesia.
Approximate total cost: TBD
MAYMESTER IN GREECE
This course introduces students to the history, archaeology, art, and architecture of ancient Greece from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman Empire by studying these subjects through the lens of ancient Greek religion. At its very heart, this course will analyze the development and diversity of the Greek religious experience: its gods, its rituals, its temples. Nevertheless, we also will evaluate the significance of Greek religion in other aspects of ancient Greek society, including social and political themes, especially as no division between church and state existed. Thus, how did Greek religious practices influence traditional divisions within Greek society, and how did they transcend or cross these boundaries? How did rituals and cults provide stability and direction to the development of the Greek city-state?
We also will study other areas of Greek culture deeply affected by religion, including the economy, the military and athletics. Through visits to archaeological sites, we will begin our study of religion through an introduction to ancient Greek architecture, i.e. the various forms and structure of temples and sanctuaries. We also will intensively study other types of archaeological material, including pottery and sculpture, on-site and in museums to analyze the significance of visual media in Greek ritual and culture. We also will incorporate other types of source materials, including literature, epigraphy, and numismatics, to best understand religious experiences. Finally, we will study other processes, including excavation and conservation, to understand how we actively reconstruct the past through conscious and unconscious biases. We will visit many museums throughout Greece (e.g. Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum) to evaluate how museums also are a tool in presenting the past.
Approximate total cost: $13,312
MAYMESTER IN ITALY
This course, which is taught on site in Rome and in the Bay of Naples, examines the history, architecture, art and features of daily life as it was lived by the ancient Romans through a sustained engagement with the topography of these areas and their environs. While our focus will be on the period between the 2nd century BCE and the 4th century CE, we will also consider some of the long-term developments and influences of Roman culture as they manifest themselves in medieval, renaissance and modern-day Rome.
A few themes and topics that we will explore throughout the course include: the material and cultural transformation of Rome’s public spaces and civic image over time; the influence of urban life and customs on the production of Latin literature and Roman art; and especially, the monumental contexts of Roman religion and ritual practice, from the Late Republican period to the rise of Christianity.
Approximate total cost: $12,053
MAYMESTER IN JAPAN
The history of otaku culture reflects its deep roots in Japanese pop culture and its ongoing adaptation to changing social and technological landscapes. Developed after World War II as Japan underwent a period of rapid economic growth and modernization, Otaku culture originated as a subculture rooted in a mix of various aspects of Japanese culture and history and American pop culture, including comics, movies, and television shows.
Initially, "otaku" referred to someone with an intense interest or obsession, often related to anime, Manga, video games, cosplay, and other forms of Japanese pop culture. Today, otaku culture has created a new space for young people to express themselves and find a sense of community and, with its complex narratives, unique art styles, and themes, continue to globally influence contemporary cinema, video games, television, music and fashion trends and production.
Through the lens of otaku, this Maymester class will explore how Japan's unique history and culture are reflected in its art, architecture, media and everyday life. Specifically, students will spend time in the metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka, renowned as cultural centers for setting trends in fashion, music, art, technology and animation, and Kyoto, the traditional capital of Japan and home to countless temples, shrines, and other historical one-of-a-kind structures and explore a wide range of styles and media, covering cinema, anime, Manga, calligraphy, fine art, design, and landscape architecture. Through these vast and diverse experiences, students will consider and evaluate how the interplay between popular culture, technology, and societal norms manifests within contemporary Japanese culture.
For more information including class details, financial aid and potential free time activities, please visit: https://vanderbiltjapan.blogspot.com/.
Approximate total cost: $13,425
MAYMESTER IN BRAZIL
We are currently amidst a global biodiversity and climate crisis, while demands for natural resources and lands continue to grow. Brazil is one of the world’s most biodiverse nations. It encompasses 90% of the Amazonian Rainforest and it is home to the World’s largest Tropical Wetland, the Pantanal. It is also a country of large social inequalities, and with an economy still based on the exploitation of natural resources and lands. In this course, students will take advantage of Prof. Jorge’s 20-year expertise on Brazilian biodiversity and environmental issues, and explore those questions while visiting Brazil’s Amazonian Rainforest and Pantanal Wetlands. Students will visit local communities and ecotourism farms, experience and quantify Brazil’s incredible biodiversity, talk to stakeholders to learn about Brazil’s challenges and actions implemented to reconcile environmental preservation, social justice and economic development.
Approximate total cost: $13,699
MAYMESTER IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
Following in the steps of peregrination literaria, this Maymester course aims to map British Romanticism by providing opportunities to see an intersection of British Romantic poetry, a sense of place, and culture, before, during and after the study in Britain and Scotland. Our point of departure will be William Wordsworth’s The Prelude, a representative Romantic autobiographical poem written over the course of at least fifty years, inspired by and composed during Wordsworth’s long walking tours around the hills and fells of the Lake District. Our point of arrival will be some of the itinerary of John Keats’ walking tours in Scotland, just north of Iverness. Seasoned with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in London and Robert Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Scotland, this Maymester will enrich our understanding of British Romanticism. While visiting sites and seeing sights in London and Scotland, we are taught critical language awareness, interpretation and translation, historical and political consciousness, social sensibility, and aesthetic perception. We will acquire an advanced knowledge of the history, geography, culture, and literature of British Romanticism; the ability to understand and interpret the common cores of British Romantic culture; and the capacity to do story-mapping in the real landscape specific to mapping William Wordsworth’s The Prelude–Cambridge, Stonehenge, the Lake District–and to Robert Stevenson’s novella, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Scotland.
Approximate total cost: TBD
MAYMESTER IN FRANCE AND ITALY
Fashion is a language that reveals stories about different time periods, traditions, and values. Influenced by cultural factors including economics, gender, class, and ethnicity, designs and fabrics convey rich information about societies and individuals.
In this course, students will delve into the history and the business of the fashion industry in France and Italy, exploring the connections between luxury fashion and sustainability. According to Jean-Noel Kapferer, a renowned French marketing professor ‘Luxury is at its essence very close to sustainable preoccupations because it is nourished by rarity and beauty and thus has an interest in preserving them.’ (1)
We will first examine the role of fashion in France and Italy between the 17th and 21st centuries, focusing on fashion trends and influencers including Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, and Queen Margherita, the first true queen of Italy. We will then take a close look at several important historical moments in French and Italian fashion including the fascist regime’s creation of an “authentic” Italian femininity and the emergence of the “new look” in France following World War II. We will also consider how cinema became an important medium for creating and disseminating fashion ideals in France and Italy.
Our focus will then shift to the issue of the interplay between luxury fashion and sustainable fashion with a focus on the impact of consumption and labor on contemporary fashion practices. Through lectures and in-person visits to museums, fashion ateliers, and sustainable fashion organizations, students will gain a better sense of how historical and economic contexts shape the fashion industry while also gaining intercultural competencies.
Upon completing this course, students will understand how fashion communicates the economic, social, and political contexts of different time periods. They will also learn how stakeholders in the luxury fashion industry can play a key role by engaging in sustainable practices, embracing responsible approaches to labor, and committing to a more equitable and diverse workforce.
Approximate total cost: $15,329
MAYMESTER IN ITALY
Get ready for the best pre-law course ever. Wondering what law school is like? With this course, “Roman Law, Common Law, and Civil Law: Origins” Vanderbilt teams up with the law school at the University of Trento in northern Italy to offer an experience without parallel in any jurisdiction on the planet. We start with a baseline of cases from Roman family and property law, then see how these principles turn up in U.S. Common law cases as well as in European Civil Law. For the Civil Law background, we will have the opportunity to hear lectures from global experts on the Civil Law from the University of Trento. Because law is an undergraduate subject in Italy, we plan that a small number of Trento students take the course as well, allowing us to learn from them directly about their own cultural and legal traditions. We also program a major field trip to sites of top importance for Roman law in Verona, including viewing and discussing a unique, and very old, manuscript, as well as visiting the famous town amphitheater, one of the largest in the Roman world, to hear about the odd ways in which the Romans combined criminal law punishment under with popular entertainment. On weekends, students are encouraged to explore the cultural and artistic treasures of such cities as Verona (still much more to see and do), Brescia (extensive Roman remains, for one thing), Bolzano (in the heart of German-speaking Italy), Vicenza (see how Palladio shaped the architectural form that later became Peabody campus), Padua (Giotto and more), Milan (Da Vinci’s Last Supper, the Cathedral, etc.), Venice (it’s VENICE). There will also be an opportunity for service-learning regarding immigration law and the local courts and another involving immersion in the local language and culture, including the cuisine (part of this is an Italian cooking course). The course will count for the Law, History, and Society major and AXLE (SBS).
Approximate total cost: $12,013
MAYMESTER IN THE UK AND IRELAND
Listening to a Broadway musical’s overture performed in a West End theatre; joining Londoners at their National Theatre to see seasoned (often famous) actors give voice to a new British play; cheering with football fans in iconic Wembley Stadium; following costumed guides through Henry VIII’s palace on the Thames; listening to fairy stories in the upstairs room of a historic Dublin pub; gathering with Scottish families to watch their kin toss cabers at a traditional Highland Game. Students in this Maymester attend a diverse range of performance events in and around London, Dublin, and Glasgow to experience spectatorship as a practice to gain cultural knowledge and identify oneself as a global citizen.
As spectators and travelers in the UK and Ireland, we will observe the offerings of each stage/field/site alongside our fellow attendees with whom we will share space and interest. We will ask how each performance event situates its spectators as welcomed visitors, community members, and/or cultural consumers. As a community of travelers, students and faculty will collaborate to document their experiences and insights on a course blog through both word (short reviews, essays, personal reflections) and image (photo essays, videos, sketches). Both Dr. Essin and Dr. Cizmar have extensive knowledge of these performance cultures as well as experience leading Maymester programs.
Approximate total cost: $13,239
MAYMESTER IN ITALY
Join us for a transformative journey into Italian culinary history! Come savor the flavors, stories, and traditions of Bologna cuisine and its heritage. In this course, Professor Anna Marra will guide students through a unique and immersive experience, delving into historical, cultural aspects of Italian diet traditions. Through a combination of lectures, hands-on experiences, tastings tours, and field trips, you will gain a profound understanding of the food culture that has made Italy a gastronomic paradise.
Highlights of the course:
1) Culinary Exploration: Experience hands-on cooking classes with local chefs and artisans. Learn to prepare classic Italian dishes and regional specialties using the freshest ingredients from local markets.
2) Food History Seminars: Engage in classroom discussions and seminars on topics such as food history, sustainability, the slow food movement, the Mediterranean diet, and the globalization of Italian cuisine. Gain a deeper understanding of Italian foodways in geographical, historical, and socio-economic contexts from the Middle Ages to today. Explore the evolution of traditional recipes, food production, and the role of food in shaping cultural identities.
3) Cultural Immersion: Immerse yourself in the vibrant Bolognese culture by walking under the 24 miles network of porticoes, visiting historical landmarks like the medieval Piazza Maggiore, the world's oldest University, the Two Towers, the Seven Churches, and the Archiginnasio.
4) Gastronomic Tours: Embark on guided tours to local trattorias and osterias, where you'll savor authentic dishes and regional recipes and learn about their cultural significance.
5) Field Trips: Explore the surrounding Emilia-Romagna region, tasting the renowned Prosciutto in Parma; learn the art of producing the world's most expensive balsamic vinegar in the world in Modena; savor traditional and new flavors of ice cream at the Gelato Museum Carpigiani; visit the prestigious Ferrari Museum in Maranello. These trips will provide firsthand exposure to the production of the renowned Made in Italy brand.
6) Enjoy Free weekends to explore Italy and Europe on your own
Approximate total cost: $13,422
MAYMESTER IN SPAIN
This Maymester course is taught in Alicante, Spain. This coastal city is the capital city of the beautiful Costa Blanca, located on the eastern coast of Spain. Few other cities can boast such exciting and famous festivals, beautiful miles of sunny beaches, quaint old- world Spanish boroughs, and a richness of early architecture. As a native of Spain, I cannot imagine a better and more exciting place to host this intermediate conversational Spanish course.
The objective of this course is to increase your level of oral proficiency in Spanish through the study of cultural, political, and historical events in an immersion environment, through living, speaking and studying solely in Spanish for four weeks. Students will be actively engaged in communicative activities designed and structured to maximize their use of the target language. These hands-on projects include research, analysis, discussion, argumentation, and presentation of historic, social and political events that impact Spain in the 21st century. Through interviews of residents of Alicante, in addition to assessing journalistic sources, documentaries, and films, students will prepare their weekly presentations. By the end of this course, students will improve their oral proficiency, gain strategies for effective oral communication in Spanish and have a deeper knowledge and understanding of Spanish history and culture.
Approximate total cost: $11,051
MAYMESTER IN SPAIN
Leave behind your everyday life. Become aware of yourself, of your own limits, and go beyond them!
Pilgrimage to Santiago has deeply influenced the spiritual and physical landscapes of Spain and has remained until today as a major heritage site that attracts thousands of pilgrims every year for diverse reasons. Having this is mind, this course explores, from a multidisciplinary point of view, the origins, development, and influence of The Way of Saint James in the life, and culture of Spain. Through a close examination of the religious and political discourse, history, art, literature, and films, students will learn how the cult of Saint James and the route itself has contributed to shape Spanish national identity, and to dynamize Spanish modern economy.
The program will take place in Spain during 4 weeks and it includes a trek along several sections of the medieval route known as the French Way, more than 200 miles in which students will have to immerse themselves in the culture of the Way. Additionally, students will visit several major Spanish cities relevant to the history of the route (Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León, and Santiago) and Madrid. In total, we will cross four autonomous communities and experience first-hand the revitalization of northern Spain thanks in part to this pilgrimage route.
During the course, the physical route will be the classroom where we will discuss the socio-cultural significance of this millenary tradition. At the end of the walking route, in Santiago, students will participate in a cooking workshop with a local chef to learn how to prepare some of the local culinary traditions.
Approximate total cost: $11,339
MAYMESTER IN PERU
In this course students will explore different forms of cultural production in the Hispanic world, with a focus on the Andean region and a strong emphasis on hands-on learning. Some of the issues discussed will be the lessons of cultural anthropology and archaeology to explore the past and understand the present, popular and elite artistic production, the importance of festive culture in the region, as well as questions of gender and society. As part of the Maymester, program participants will study the festival of Corpus Christi, one of the most fascinating syncretic celebrations in the Spanish-speaking world. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to engage in a more experiential type of tourism that will include activities such as hiking through ancient ruins, participating in various celebrations, and visiting with traditional artisans. Students will lodge and study in the historic center of Cuzco, thus encouraging constant interaction and exploration of all the former Inca capital has to offer. The group will spend the first few days in Lima, a major cosmopolitan city and culinary capital of the Americas.
Approximate total cost: $10,952
For questions related to any of the specific Maymester courses listed above, please consult the professor for the course. If you are seeking general information about Maymester courses, you may contact either Dean Roger Moore or Dean Carrie Russell, College of Arts and Science, 350 Buttrick Hall, or the GEO staff in the Student Life Center.