UAB on the Camino in Spain
The Road to Santiago is comprised of various routes that all end in the same place, Santiago de Compostela, where some believe the Cathedral houses the remains of the first martyred apostle of Jesus, St. James. UAB’s students will travel for cultural (not religious) purposes along the main artery, known as the French Road, or Camino Francés, since it originates in France. We will join the approximately 250,000 people of all beliefs (or lack thereof), backgrounds, and nationalities who currently travel each year along this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Coming into Contact with local Spaniards and an international cast of pilgrims is an education in and of itself, and the route itself can be thought of as a lengthy museum of sorts. It is an impressive experience to repeatedly encounter ancient Roman ruins, medieval architecture, and sites associated with legendary and historical events. In the words of anthropologist, Nancy Louise Frey’s Pilgrim Stories, “Each day’s journey becomes a field trip through a continuous museum, through the vagaries of Iberia’s (and Europe’s) history, politics and religious devotion” (38, 41). For academic purposes, UAB’s students will be culturally motivated pilgrims, although this does not preclude other, more personal motives for making this journey.
One of the attractive qualities of studying the pilgrimage route to Santiago is that it is inherently interdisciplinary in scope, to which two projects students will complete attest. First, during the coursework to be taken during the first half of May Session 2014, students will prepare a portfolio on important sites along the way or at the destination together and will give a presentation on the subject in situ during our travels. Second, while on the journey, students will gather data as they research a particular topic (artistic, architectural, literacy, historical, ethnographic, linguistic, et cetera). They will present their findings while in Santiago on May 30, the last day of the May Session. Students additionally will complete and turn in a daily journal.
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