Faculty-led travel study course to Greece. Explores the history, culture, and practices of the Mediterranean lifestyle with a focus on longevity-associated behaviors and the intrinsic connection between health and sustainable development. Immersion in a learning experience centered on five longevity-associated health behaviors of the Ikarian culture. Prerequisites: Three credit hours in English.
Summer Travel Course; Travel Dates: July 25-August 3, 2023; Location: Ikaria and Athens, Greece; Instructor Permission Required; Program Fee: $3,795, less $450 deposit; Airfare is additional; Open to Degree and Continuing Education students
This is a faculty led travel study course to Greece open to all students. This course involves travel, lectures, group discussions and experiential learning. We will spend a week in an immersive experience at the Ikaria Longevity Wellness Retreat in Ikaria, Greece, known for its comprehensive program centered on the five components of the renowned Ikarian lifestyle, including: 1) consumption of fresh, minimally processed, local, seasonal and eco-friendly food, 2) meditation, 3) adoption of a physically active lifestyle, 4) connection and conviviality with regard to the social and cultural value of meals and physical activity, and 5) stress relief and adequate rest during the day. This course will aim to expand students’ cultural awareness and strengthen their ability to consider multiple perspectives related to longevity-associated health behaviors and sustainability. Longevity, the duration of human life, is thought to be influenced by several factors including genetics, environment, and lifestyle behaviors. This course will explore the impact of environmental and lifestyle behaviors on longevity in both American and Greek cultures with a sustainable lens. In Greece, students will develop an awareness of the history and evolution of the Mediterranean lifestyle in this region and participate in a traditional Mediterranean lifestyle- one that is somewhat contradictory to the American lifestyle (e.g. high stress, processed food) on the island of Ikaria. Ikaria, Greece, is one of five locations worldwide recognized as a “blue zone”- places where people live the longest and are the healthiest. An immersive learning experience through a longevity retreat in Ikaria will allow students to explore the social, environmental, and economic domains of sustainability in the Ikarian culture and community. Upon completion of this course, students will cultivate an understanding of the interconnection of- and interdependence between health and sustainable development, and the cultural dynamics that may influence and impact longevity-associated health behaviors. Course Objectives At the end of this course students will be able to: 1. Describe the history- and evolution of longevity-associated health behaviors rooted in ancient Greek civilization and their current role on human health 2. Explain the multiple, dynamic factors that may influence and impact practice of longevity-associated health behaviors at the individual, community, and system levels, i.e. environmental (both positive and negative), nutritional (food access and insecurity), and social (preservation of tradition, family structures and culinary heritage) 3. Discuss the role of community and culture in Ikaria and strategies employed by Ikarians in sustaining their lifestyle 4. Detect non-sustainable, longevity-associated health behaviors in environmental, economic, and social domains that may contribute to health inequities and identify opportunities for change 5. Analyze intercultural experiences to recognize sustainable and non-sustainable practices related to longevity-associated health behaviors and the impact on human health This course was designed and approved for meeting D2 and SU designations.
To successfully address all course objectives, this course will employ a variety of teaching methods and learning experiences. Each involves and depends on the student’s active participation to maximize learning. Lectures and group discussions will be employed to advance knowledge, experiential learning consisting of supervised learning through participation in various activities, cultural immersion to allow real world learning through immersion into life in Greece and participating in cultural activities such as a panigyri and hot springs, and journaling throughout the course that will allow for personal reflections as well as responses relevant to course objectives and activities. Attendance and illness: Students are expected to attend all regularly scheduled classes and not schedule outside activities during the scheduled time in the country. Students who arrive early or stay after the specified course dates will be entirely responsible for themselves and any costs associated with this. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor regarding the reason for absence or tardiness from class, and to discuss these with the instructor in advance whenever possible. Due to the short duration of this travel course, there will not be opportunity for make-up work or extensions of due dates. The UVM attendance policy outlines expectations for attendance. Classroom Code of Conduct: Faculty and students will treat all members of the learning community with respect. Toward this end, they will promote academic discourse and the free exchange of ideas by listening with civil attention to comments made by all individuals. Students will conduct themselves in a manner that serves to maintain, promote, and enhance the high quality academic environment befitting the University of Vermont. The Code of Student Conduct outlines policies related to violations of University policies that protect health and safety on campus as well as abroad. In Country Code of Conduct: Participation (attention and interest in course activities) and professionalism (professional behavior, teamwork and communication) is expected. Students will demonstrate safe, professional behavior and respectful cultural awareness at all times. While abroad, instructors will provide immediate, constructive verbal feedback to students regarding their engagement. Examples of situations that would not meet course standards and expectations could include, but are not limited to (at the instructor’s discretion): • Absence and/or tardiness to scheduled class activity (without notifying instructor) • Unpreparedness for scheduled activity (attire, interview questions, etc…) • Disrespectful, offensive and/or foul language (derogatory statements about race, religion, culture) • Unprofessional communication or behavior to faculty, staff, peers, community members including, but not limited to: eye rolling, arguing, poor work ethic, lack of accountability, dishonesty, attitude, overconfidence, unmotivated/uninterested in learning, unable to accept constructive feedback, evidence or suspicion of recent alcohol or substance abuse use that could impair judgment.
Evaluation Methods (tentative, subject to change) Readings and Writing Responses 10% Prior to class meetings, students will be expected to complete the assigned readings and submit a brief writing response to a prompt relevant to the readings. Group Discussions and Class Engagement 15% In addition to attendance being taken, students will be expected to come fully prepared and actively engage in class discussion. Active engagement in all learning experiences while abroad is also expected and will be assessed. Full daily points will be allotted for attendance, participating in discussion, responding to questions from instructors, interacting with other members of the class, and demonstration of safe, professional behavior and respectful cultural awareness at all times (see “In-Country Code of Conduct” below for specific information). Instructors will evaluate the students daily and will provide immediate, constructive verbal feedback to students regarding their engagement. Interview with local Ikarian 20% This assignment will involve interviewing a person residing in Ikaria. Working in pairs, students will be connected with a prospective interview participant during the abroad component of the course. Students will be expected to develop interview questions, effectively engage with the interview participant, share information learned in group discussions with peers and instructors, and provide a written summary of the interview. Students will be assessed on the organization, presentation, and summary (depth of summary description offered). The majority of questions should aim to gain insight on the Ikarian culture, values, and sustainability. Detailed guidelines will be provided. Journal 25% Journaling will take place throughout the course. Prompts will be given for journal entries based on the relevant topics, discussions, activities, and/or readings. Journals will be read and graded once before the abroad course component and then following the time abroad. Reflection and Action Plan 30% Utilizing an existing sustainability framework (i.e. Inherit model) students will self-reflect to identify current, non-sustainable, longevity-associated health practices in environmental, economical, and social domains that may contribute to health inequities and identify opportunities for change. Based off of these identified, non-sustainable practices, students will develop a personal sustainability action plan to address these practices including specific goals and timelines for achieving these goals. This assignment will begin prior to the study abroad component with the final submission occurring after time abroad to allow students to consider and integrate multiple economic, ecological, and social factors and perspectives from their intercultural experience.
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