Scotland is a place created from myths we already know. Game of Thrones? Lord of the Rings? These are based in romanticized worlds not that far removed from the real Scotland and its zeitgeist. And in the actual world, almost anyone with European roots can trace her ancestors back to a Highland glen or a Scottish island. But the Scots, in spite of carving out an existence from nothing more than poverty and oppression imposed by foreign rule ranging from the Romans to the Celts to the Vikings to the British, nevertheless managed to make some of the most significant contributions to religion, history, culture, science, and politics seen in western culture.


This course is designed as a study of the development of the culture of Scotland through a study of its history and religion, all illustrated by its ruins. With visits to as many as 50 sites, students will spend 23 days immersed in the remnants of Scotland’s past while also having the opportunity to experience modern life in towns and cities across the country.


While it is assumed that you do not have any past experience with Scotland, you absolutely MUST have a strong interest in history as well as appreciation for religion, architecture, and archeology to name a few areas. You must also realize this is not a trip where you take pictures out of bus windows. You will be at the sites, probably in the rain or snow and always in the wind, taking pictures and making observations. Some appreciation for the outdoors will make your trip more enjoyable and valuable.



Herman, Arthur, How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europes Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything In It , Pittsburgh: Three Rivers Press, 2002.



Coming soon. You will have other assigned reading in the fall to help build the foundation required to appreciate the “story” of Scotland once you are climbing over the piles of rocks that illustrate it.


COURSEWORK  (Work is due no later than 11:59 pm on Fri, Feb 2, 2024. (No exceptions.)

PROJECT – Students will complete a “visual” essay on some aspect of Scottish history, religion, or culture. Choose one topic of particular interest and concentrate on gathering photos, video, and/or drawings throughout the trip. Other things to look for might be books on your topic that are only available in Scotland. Upon return, annotate your visual collection in either a PowerPoint presentation, web site, video, or scrapbook.

JOURNAL – Your journal should not be a diary but more of a field log of what you saw. If you are so inclined, you might choose to include drawings. Use the journal to take notes for your project.

READING – Scottish history and culture are extremely complex. While there are not going to be tests on the plane or quizzes in your hotel rooms, you really need to read the book and other assigned readings just to gain a basic background. There is always a brief description of each site we will visit and its historical/cultural context, but it is not possible to give you all of Scottish history in a series of 10 minute lectures. We will toss out names, places, and people associated with the sites we visit, and you really will get more out of the information if you’ve read the book.




Grading is S/D/U only and will be based on a composite of the three elements described above and will include satisfactory participation in all group scheduled activities.

PLEASE NOTE: Grading will be a “real” thing. An “S” grade requires an actual journal, not something assembled on the plane on the way home. An “S” grade also requires an actual project, not just a collection of selfies in front of castles.


You are legally responsible for yourself. This means that if you get yourself into trouble, you will get yourself out of it. If we have to intervene, your next trip will be to the airport where you will return home at your own expense. This is college policy, and it will be enforced. This includes behavior in hotels that 1) are NOT dormitories and 2) often house other guests. This expectation for basic respect extends to other members of the class as well.

You are expected to participate in all activities. Plan your free time so as to allow you to do this. If you do not participate in scheduled activities, you will be sent home. We would expect nothing less than for you to have a great time, but if this becomes a detriment to the group or involves illegal activities, you will be sent home to college disciplinary action.