Study Abroad

Most Recent Study Aboard Trip

In June 2019, Drs. Zeff Bjerken and Todd LeVasseur traveled with a group of students to Ladakh, India to study how local peoples relate to their environment, especially in light of the dramatic effects of climate change. Students were also introduced to the key concepts and major drivers of international development, including how globalization, volontourism, and infrastructure projects that feature solar energy and glacier grafting techniques impact local communities, including refugees. Students participated in unique experiential learning opportunities related to case studies that focus on natural disasters and ongoing water and land issues. Students gained a better understanding of the role of religious leaders in climate change adaptation, and developed an ethical, grounded; empathetic and intersectional approach to social and environmental issues.

Previous Study Abroad Trips

In May 2009, professors Zeff Bjerken and Elijah Siegler organized the first Religious Studies summer program when they led 12 students to the northern Indian region of Ladakh to study The Himalayan Religions of Ladakh and Religion and Globalization. Modern day Ladakh is undergoing a religious rebirth or renaissance of sorts, due in part to the influx of Tibetan Buddhist refugees who recreate their cultural traditions in their adopted homeland, and the influx of western spiritual tourists. Through site visits and days spent in village guest houses, students immersed themselves in the cultural heritage of Ladakh, made fieldtrips to Muslim mosques, Moravian churches, and Buddhist monasteries, trekked to sacred caves and pilgrimage sites and examined trends in western spiritual tourism.

Professor Siegler also led a group of students to China in summer 2009. This study tour was a multidisciplinary introduction to religion and tourism management. Siegler taught a course that examined the most significant religious trends in contemporary China, with day trips, guided tours to temples and museums and visits to historic sites like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. 

In June 2011, four students spent 16 jam-packed days studying in religion in China, in particular Daoism. They studied Confucian classics in a Confucian Academy and read sutras in a Tibetan Buddhist temple, ate delicious dumplings and street food, took long walks through historic neighborhoods, explored the Beijing subway system, discussed the power of the state while standing in Tiananmen Square, and went out at night with a local journalism student‹and that was just the first day!  Later they joined up with a private tour led by renowned scholar of Daoism Dr. Livia Kohn to explore deeply the mythology of Laozi, while climbing Daoist mountains, and meeting Daoists of various sorts‹including American disciples, urban hermits, and millionaire patrons!

In June 2013, Professors Siegler and Piotr Gibas (Asian Studies) will lead another trip to China. The program will begin in Beijing, then travel to the ancient capital of Xi’an, followed by Chengdu, birthplace of spicy food and Taoism, and then travel to the province of Yunnan, with its beautiful weather and tribal cultures. The program will end in Shanghai. For more information check out our China trip flyer

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Elijah Siegler with students in India in 2009.

Other study abroad opportunities can be pursued for a semester or an entire academic year. The College of Charleston has bilateral exchange agreements with academic institutions around the world. These exchanges allow students to study for a semester or an academic year at a partner institution while still paying their College of Charleston tuition. Normally, all financial aid applies. There are two universities in the United Kingdom and one university in Japan that have very good religious studies and theology programs that a few religious studies majors have participated in:

There are also a number of independent study abroad programs (unaffiliated with the College) that offer courses in religious studies. Some of the most popular programs include:

Students who have participated in the above programs have received credit that they applied to their major or minor degree requirements in religious studies at the College. For more information about study abroad opportunities, see: