Study Abroad

Faculty-Led Programs

Study abroad opportunities can be pursued for a semester or an entire academic year. Faculty in Religious Studies have led a number of study abroad trips to India. In 2009, Professor Bjerken and Siegler made the inaugural trip to Ladakh in northern India with a group of twelve students. Ladakh is undergoing a 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 guesthouses, students immersed themselves in the cultural heritage of Ladakh, made field trips to Muslim mosques, Moravian Churches, and Buddhist monasteries, trekked to sacred caves and pilgrimage sites, and examined trends in spiritual tourism. The trip ended with a day trip to the Taj Mahal, the most popular site for tourists and pilgrims alike in India.

Taj Mahal Trip

In 2016, Professor Bjerken and alumna Amberjade Taylor took students to Ladakh and Dharamsala India to study the impact of international development and globalization on Ladakhis and the Tibetan refugee community in Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama lives. Students were introduced to the major driver of international development, including how globalization, voluntourism, and infrastructure projects that feature solar energy impact local communities, including Tibetan refugees. Students stayed in a Buddhist monastery and met with Buddhist reformers and Tibetan political activists who were also filmmakers, poets, painters, and journalists.

In 2019, Professor Bjerken and Todd LeVasseur traveled with a group of students to Ladakh to study the impact of climate change and globalization on the religions practiced in this region, namely Buddhism and Islam. Through site visits and meetings with local religious leaders, students had unique experiential learning opportunities that focused on the impact of climate change on natural disasters and melting glaciers. Students gained a better understanding of how religious leaders are adapting to climate change, and they developed their empathy and appreciation for Ladakhis' resilience.

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Professor Siegler has also taken groups of students to China three times, and for the first time in 2009. This study tour was a multidisciplinary introduction to religion and tourism management. Professor Siegler taught a course on 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 2011, Professor Siegler spend sixteen jam-packed days with four students studying the religions of China, and Daoism in particular. They studied Confucian classics in a Confucian academy, read sutras in a Tibetan Buddhist temple, ate delicious dumplings and street food, took long walks through historic neighborhoods and discussed the power of the state while standing in Tiananmen Square. Then they joined up with a private tour led by a renowned scholar of Daoism and explored the mythology of Laozi, climbed Daoist mountains, and met with Daoists pilgrims, urban hermits, and millionaire patrons.

In 2013, Professors Siegler and Piotr Gibas (Asian Studies) led another trip to China that began in Beijing, traveled to the ancient capital of Xi'an, followed by Chengdu, the birthplace of spicy food and Daoism. The group then visited the province of Yunnan, with its tribal cultures, before ending in Shanghai. 

Other Programs

The College of Charleston has bilateral exchange agreements with academic institutions around the world. These exchanges allow students to study for a summer, semester, or academic year at a partner institution while still paying their College of Charleston tuition. Normally, all financial aid applies. 

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: