About the Abroad

Program Focus

Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan include land that multiple faith traditions consider holy and that Judaism considers promised. This abroad will explore the question, “What makes a land holy?” Is holiness defined by an event that occurred millennia ago or by contemporary attitude and action? Is it confined to a specific geographical location, or is it a state of consciousness? Is holiness achieved by excluding or embracing the other, by building or tearing down walls? How can one ethically live out one’s vision of holiness in a way that establishes justice and promotes peace?

As we visit biblical sites, we will ponder their significance in antiquity and today, their roles in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the lessons that we can learn from these sites about peacebuilding, holiness, and transformation. As we journey from the Jordanian wilderness to the “promised land” and from the sacred center of Jerusalem to the rural hillsides of Galilee, we will contemplate the themes of wilderness, exile, promised land, and Jerusalem in the Bible, in our spiritual journey, and in contemporary issues. As we converse with Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians representing a diversity of perspectives, we will explore what makes a space sacred to each group and who has the right to it. As we walk from the Western Wall, one of the most sacred sites in Judaism, to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, two of the most sacred sites in Islam, we will consider how to navigate competing claims to holiness and to the land. As we experience the “Holy Land,” we will gain deeper insights into the Bible, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and how each of us in our daily lives can exemplify a holiness that transcends territories, a peace that includes justice, an understanding that embraces diversity, and a transformation grounded in grace.


A total of 7 semester hours credit will be earned with this program: 3 SH during Fall 2018, 3 SH during Winter Break 2018/2019, and 1 SH during Spring 2019. 

Biblical Sites and (Con)texts

Taught fall semester 2018 on campus, this course is an examination of biblical sites in light of pertinent biblical texts as well as their ancient and contemporary contexts. This course includes critical analyses of land in the Bible and of biblical sites in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Secondarily, this course addresses the role of these concepts in conflicts in the land of the Bible from antiquity to the present.

Country Studies: Israel, Palestine, and Jordan

Taught during the abroad, this course provides an interdisciplinary survey of contemporary issues in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan.  These issues may include geography, cultural history, politics, economics, religion, foreign relations, environment, the arts, etc. 

Reentry Seminar: Israel

Taught spring semester 2019 on campus, this required reentry seminar is an opportunity for students to internalize, integrate, and formulate the personal and academic learning gained from their study in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan.