Study Abroad


Religion and Culture in Villages of India

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This course is closed for the Winter 2014 term.

UMAIE Course Number: T4220
SAU Course Equivalency: THEO 360, Advanced Topics in Theology (four credits)
Instructor: Dr. Edward Ulrich and Dr. Barbara Sain, Department of Theology, University of St. Thomas
Dates: December 30, 2013- January 27, 2014. (NOTE: SAU classes begin January 15)
Location: Cochin, Kottayam, Tekoy, Kurisumala, Thekkady, Periyakulam, Madurai, Tiruvannamalai, Mahabalipuram
Price: $6,375 (subject to change)

Program description

After his lengthy travels in India, Mark Twain wrote "this is indeed India; the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels. . . the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history . . .  the one land that all men desire to see."

Some of Twain's words were an exaggeration, but India is a land of incredible variety and diversity, making it one of the most fascinating places on earth. This course will explore India's religious pluralism, focusing especially on Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. While it is commonly known that India gave birth to Hinduism, it also gave birth to some of the oldest Christian churches in the world, the Syrian churches of Kerala. Several centuries later, Muslims arrived through the spice trade and later arrivals ruled India for centuries.

The course will take place in the southernmost states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In Kerala the class will visit areas brimming with temples, churches, and mosques. In Tamil Nadu we will stay at two of the great "temple towns" and experience the three day Hindu festival of Pongal. We will also enter deep into Indian ways by staying five nights with families in a village in Kerala, and six nights with families in a village in Tamil Nadu. The class will visit the major cities of Cochin, Madurai, Tiruvannamalai, and Mahabalipuram, but the majority of the course will take place in the countryside. Through these experiences students will gain a strong sense of the religious fabric of the world, becoming aware of diverse religions and diversity within religions. Further, they will learn a variety of positive ways in which Christians, Muslims, and Hindus have approached religious differences.

What is included

  • Round-trip airfare from Moline, Chicago or Minneapolis 
  • Hotel Accommodation in double and triple rooms
  • Meals (except when traveling)
  • Travel assistance
  • International health insurance

What is not included

  • Passport fees
  • Transportation to/from airport
  • Fees for textbooks and materials
  • Meals en route and on field trips
  • Personal baggage fees
  • Possible TB test upon return to the US (minimum $28)


How to apply

Priority Deadline: April 12, 2013
Complete the online study abroad application and submit a $500 application deposit to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).

Applications will be accepted until October 1.
Students that apply after the April 12 Priority Deadline may find that their desired program is full.

  • Follow the application instructions carefully.
  • Applications will not be reviewed until all application materials have been received.
  • Make checks payable to Seminars International.
  • The $500 application deposit is deducted from the total program cost.
  • If you are not accepted into the program, or if the program is cancelled, the application deposit is refundable.
  • If you are accepted, the application deposit is non-refundable after September 17.

Payment deadlines

  • November 1: remaining balance due

Payment details

  • Failure to meet payment deadlines may jeopardize your place in the program.
  • Please submit your final payment to Student Account Services by November 1.
  • The final payment is non-refundable after November 1.