students on field trip

Learn about History travel courses

In recent years a growing number of Laurier History students have had many diverse opportunities to enhance their study of the past through experiential learning in travel courses.

For well over a decade, hundreds of History students and alumni have gone to France and Belgium on War and Memory Battlefield Tours hosted by the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS), led by Professor Terry Copp (retired), Professor Roger Sarty, and Associate Professor Mark Humphries, as well as affiliated faculty from the University of Waterloo, the Royal Military College, and elsewhere.

We have also offered a number of summer travel courses for credit. For example, in 2011 Professor Len Friesen took 15 students in his senior seminar (HI411) to Russia, in 2014 Associate Professor Blaine Chiasson led 10 students in his third-year course (HI399) to China and Taiwan, and in 2016 Associate Professor Gavin Brockett took 12 students to Israel/Palestine as part of a second-year course.

This year, Associate Professor Eva Plach is taking students to Poland for the last two weeks of May as part of HI388: “Into that Darkness: Poland, WWII and the Holocaust.” Ten Laurier history students are going along with ten students and a professor from Nipissing University in North Bay. They will spend a week in Krakow before moving on to the Lublin region and Warsaw.

Another mode of student travel courses is connected to Laurier’s Residence Learning Community (RLC) program. Our first RLC, Vimy Hall, was in 2014/15 and was followed by a travel course to France and Belgium led by Associate Professor Mark Humphries. Last year our second RLC was on the subject of the history of piracy. Under this program, 25 first-year History majors lived in a common dormitory (“Pirates’ Hall”) during the year and participated in various social events organized around the theme of piracy (nothing illegal or violent, of course!), and all took HI127: “Pirates! A World History” with Associate Professor Jeff Grischow in winter term. Then Grischow and Associate Professor Dana Weiner co-taught a second-year travel course (HI299) to Puerto Rico (see article photo).

The Pirates’ Hall RLC and Puerto Rico travel course proved to be so popular that they were repeated in 2016/17. This year’s HI299 course is already underway and the travel portion of the course will take place soon. While they are in Puerto Rico the 17 students who are enrolled in this travel course (plus the RLC residence don) will visit historical sites and museums in San Juan and elsewhere on the island that are relevant to piracy and the slave economy during the age of the Spanish Empire.

For 2017/18 the History department’s Ancient Studies program will team up with the Medieval and Medievalism Studies program to host a new RLC entitled “Camelot Hall” on Ancient Roman Britannia and Early Anglo-Saxon and Viking England. The common course for the RLC students will be HI121: “Ancient History in a Global Context,” to be taught in fall term by Professor Alicia McKenzie. She will also supervise the RLC’s various social and learning events that will culminate in a planned travel course to England in Summer 2018, which will include visits to Roman sites like Bath and Hadrian’s Wall, and Anglo-Saxon sites such as Sutton Hoo, as well as the British Museum in London and several regional museums.

There have also been other travel opportunities available in Canada and the US, such as Professor David Monod’s research trip in 2016 to New York City, where a number of students who had taken his third-year course on American cultural history worked for him as paid research assistants for his current project on the history of Vaudeville.