Exploring Western Thought: Human Nature, Power and Knowledge

Explore all of the elements that impact the modern western world

Much of the generative force of modernity was born in the great university cities of Europe: Bologna, Paris, Salamanca, Oxford and Cambridge. These locations were, and continue to be, home to arguably the most important European religious institutions of the day as well as the cradle of pan-European culture. By exploring the history, texts, and traditions of these cities students will have the opportunity to experience the locations that formed the ideas that facilitated the birth of the modern world.

This program will travel to five of Europe’s great cities and explore a wide range of topics, events, and social, political, economic and theological controversies that sprung from their ancient institutions, and rippled out to effect change across all sectors of societies. You will be able to visit some of Europe’s examples of art, architecture and material culture, guided by three different scholars as well as a series of local guest lecturers. There is no better way to critically examine the interplay between modern western thought and the places where it was formed than going there to experience it first-hand.

Key information




Spring 2020

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status


Application deadline


Additional requirements

This program is open to students from all majors. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

November 25, 4:00pm, TFDL 410

Student Experience

Student experience

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Dr. Tinu Ruparell at ruparell@ucalgary.ca, Dr. Rachel Schmidt at rlschmid@ucalgary.ca, and/or Dr. Joy Palacios at joy.palacios@ucalgary.ca

For application and registration support, please contact group.study@ucalgary.ca

Other useful links:

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in three courses:

    RELS 349: Religion and Politics (3 units)

    RELS 389: Christian Responses to Modernity (3 units)

    RELS 474: Advanced Topics in Religious Studies: Religion and Modernity (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    RELS 349: none

    RELS 389: none

    RELS 474: Approval of the professor

  1. Pre-departure

    TBD, Calgary: Mandatory pre-departure orientation

    January, Calgary: First group meeting and BBC documentary viewing (exact date TBD)

    February, Calgary: Second group meeting, introduction to program themes and pre-readings provided (exact date TBD)

    March, Calgary: Third group meeting half hour lecture and pre-program Q & A (exact date TBD)

    April, Calgary: Fourth course meeting (exact date TBD)

    May 1, Calgary: D2L short answer/essay tests due for RELS 349 and RELS 389

  2. In-field

    May 6, Calgary: Depart Calgary for Spain

    May 7-15, Salamanca: Coursework and activities in Salamanca with day trips to Valladolid, Ávila, La Alberca; Béjar; Hervás and Arévalo

    May 16, Salamanca to Paris: Travel to Madrid where group will fly to Paris

    May 17-24, Paris: Coursework and activities in Paris with a day trip to Versailles

    May 25, Paris to Cambridge: Train through London to arrive in Cambridge in the evening

    May 26-29, Cambridge: Coursework and activities in Cambridge

    May 30 - June 2, Oxford and London: Coursework and activities in Oxford and London

    June 3, Oxford to London: Departure for Calgary or independent travel

    Please click here for a detailed program itinerary.


  3. Post-field

    June 17, Calgary: Final Papers due

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Making of Modernity Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. The program cost is $8,132.

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.


    2020/21 Tuition Fees:

    The following proposed rate increases are being shared in advance of their approval to help students plan their finances for the upcoming school year.

    The Government of Alberta recently lifted the tuition freeze that has been in place since 2014-15. As a result, tuition rates for Canadian (domestic) students will be permitted to increase by 7% annually in each the next three years . Tuition rates for international students will no longer be regulated. In response to this change, the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors will be reviewing proposals to increase tuition rates in January 2020. If approved, the following rate increases will apply for the 2020-21 academic year:

    • New domestic students: 7% increase to all tuition fees, except for undergraduate programs in engineering course-based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 10% increase is being proposed.
    • New International students: 10% increase to tuition fees with the exception of course based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 15% increase is being proposed.
    • Graduate thesis students: A new tuition structure that will even out program costs over the length of the program versus having higher costs in years one (Masters) or pre-candidacy (PhD)
    • All continuing students:  5% increase to tuition fees

    If approved, these rate increases will be in effect for the Spring 2020 term.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    New! Faculty of Arts Group Study Program (GSP) Scholarships (for GSP participants) and Faculty of Arts Student Study Abroad Scholarships (for other international programs) - up to 10 awards of $1000 each! Deadline to apply is March 31st.  Any queries about these scholarships should be directed to Faculty of Arts Associate Dean Gavin Cameron: gcameron@ucalgary.ca 


    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email group.study@ucalgary.ca to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

All accommodations will be safe, clean and appropriate for student groups.

This program is open to all undergraduate students who are in good academic standing.

Applications will be considered after all three steps to apply are complete.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    • Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected (max 500 words).
    • Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar, and word count and then paste it into the online application.
  2. Unofficial Transcript

    • Download and submit an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre to group.study@ucalgary.ca
    • Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript
  3. Program-specific questionnaire

    After your complete application has been received and reviewed by the instructors, you will be contacted by one of the program instructors to schedule an interview. Please watch your UCalgary email account and expect to be contacted within several business days of submitting all your documents to the Group Study Team.

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying. 

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.

Blaise Pascal

Mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer & theologian

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

Please scroll up to the top of this page to view the info sessions for this program.

We also recommend watching Study Abroad 101 for general information.

Watch Study Abroad 101

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Group Study Advisors by emailing group.study@ucalgary.ca or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select #2, "Study Abroad Advising", to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.