LGBT Study Abroad
Studying abroad is no longer just an added bonus or an optional part of an undergraduate education. More and more, today’s college students are expected to travel abroad in order to make them competitive for graduate schools and potential employers. Further, studying abroad enriches student’s understanding of the global community and gives them a broader perspective on how they fit into it. President Ramsey made it one of his 2020 goals to increase the number of study abroad opportunities for U of L students, and we are committed to helping students study abroad as part of a world-class education.
The University of Louisville’s LGBT Center is the first in the region to offer LGBT-themed study abroad experiences for students who want to learn about life in other countries. Whether it’s the history of homosexuality or a close-up examination of the current political and societal realities of being LGBT in other countries, the Center’s trips include both academic and cultural experiences that bring LGBT experiences to life. And they provide students with the opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of a community that is often missing from other programs.
“We sometimes forget that the LGBT community has its own rich history and a story that crosses international lines. The chance to study their own history and culture helps LGBT students see their place in the world and claim a deeper sense of pride in themselves,” said LGBT Center Program Coordinator AJ Jones.
2014 Study Abroad Opportunity: Queer Politics in Greece
The 2014 study abroad experience, called Queer Politics in Greece, examines the way different political systems impact LGBT people and how activists in Greece are working to secure basic rights for LGBT people.
Taught by faculty lead Dr. Anne Caldwell, the experience will draw both on academic research and first-hand experiential learning. The Greek political system differs significantly from the United States. Greece has a parliamentary system (people vote for parties, not individuals and the president is chosen by Parliament) and a multiparty system. Additionally, as an EU member Greece must follow the rulings of the EU Human Rights Court. Students will learn how these different systems impact LGBT access to the political system, ways of organizing, and the protection of LGBT rights, including marriage. All academic learning will be complemented by hands-on experience.
The first half of the trip will focus on the community in Athens, where students will get personal experience by visiting a number of local LGBT organizations including Colour Youth, Athens Pride, and Rainbow Families. Students will also visit ancient sites and museums to see homosexuality as it was understood throughout the centuries. Next, students will travel to a Greek island to see a different side of LGBT life, and will meet activists and others who are working in other parts of the country to make positive changes.
“Studying the LGBT community in Greece changed my life,” said Connor Kelty, who traveled to Greece in 2013 as part of the inaugural trip. “I loved meeting all the activists who are working on the front line there. It was amazing to learn of another country’s position on the LGBT movement.”
Fellow traveler Chris Shiner agrees. “It helped me grow as an activist, and inspired me to do more here at home.”
Follow our students learning experience on the blog (and check out some great posts from last year as well!) here.