The Iberian Peninsula (contemporary Spain and Portugal) has long been a site for cultural and religious exchange. As the westernmost border of the Mediterranean Sea, Iberia was colonized over the centuries by Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and Moors. During the medieval period, Iberia’s Jews, Christians, and Muslims managed to coexist in a religiously tolerant society that came to be known as la convivencia until the fifteenth century when Ferdinand and Isabella united most of Iberia into the Christian kingdom of Spain. To visit Spain is to experience first-hand this centuries-long intermingling of cultures and religions as expressed in the art and architecture. During our three weeks, we will begin by exploring evidence of this rich history in Madrid and Toledo before spending a week in Valladolid, studying at one of Spain’s prominent universities and living with local families. Our final week is spent hiking 100 kilometers of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James), one of the most significant pilgrimages of the Christian world, which dates back to the 9th century. During the hike, we will pass through remote villages and towns, visit important architectural and artistic landmarks, and meet other Pilgrims from around the world before arriving at the end of the Camino, Santiago de Compostela.


Students will be able to experience the churches, cathedrals, mezquitas (mosques), synagogues, governmental buildings, and museums of Spain, all of which represent this rich cultural and religious mixture of Spanish heritage.  A unique aspect of this program will be hiking the final 100 km of the Camino de Santiago, the Pilgrimage of St. James, which has been one of the most significant pilgrimage routes in the world since the early medieval period.  Through these in-country experiences, students will improve their cultural and historical literacy; they will better understand cultural and religious diversity through the study of art, architecture, and literature; as well as develop their own understanding of the purpose of pilgrimage.

Dates:   May 16 - June 5, 2017
             There will be 3 mandatory meetings during the Spring 2017 semester.

SPAN 374 (4)—Developing Cultural Competency, Michelle Bettencourt (see syllabus)
Students of Spanish need to develop cultural competency as much as language proficiency in order to thrive in personal, academic and profession contexts in the United States and abroad. Students in this course will learn what is meant by ‘cultural competency’, become aware of when and how they themselves, as well as members of Spanish speaking communities show cultural competency, and demonstrate their competency in a variety of contexts. Pre-requisite: SPAN 230

RELS 374: ARTS (4) - Religious Art and Architecture of Medieval Iberia, Rodger Payne (see syllabus)
This course will utilize our site visits to museums, churches, cathedrals, mezquitas (mosques),
and synagogues in order to explore the rich religious tapestry of medieval Iberia, where Jews,
Christians, and Muslims confronted, challenged, and coexisted with one another for some 700
years. In addition to religious art and architecture, we will also consider other forms of artistic
expression such as poetry and music, as well as examine some of the cultural exchanges–most
significantly scientific exchanges – that took place between these religions.

SPAN/RELS 374 (4) - Pilgrimage: The Camino de Santiago, Michelle Bettencourt and Rodger Payne (SPAN 374 syllabus; REL 374 syllabus)
Although initially the Camino was designed to appeal to Christian pilgrims, it has become an experience that people undertake for a variety of reasons. Our approach is objective and academic, not confessional or apologetic, and thus students should demonstrate the skills appropriate to an academic setting such as objective observation, analytical thinking, and critical reasoning. Pre-requisite for Spanish credit: SPAN 230.

Costs:  $2,091; costs will include accommodations, travel within Spain, some meals and Medical Insurance.  Not included: Round-trip airfare to Spain, some meals, and personal expenses.


Required Spain Courses Payment and Cancellation form


Applications are available in the Study Abroad Office (28 Ramsey Library). Completed applications are due no later than February 13, 2017. Please turn in a completed application with a $150 processing fee to the Study Abroad Office.  You may also download the Short-Term Application.

UNC Asheville reserves the right to cancel or alter the program format or to change costs in case of conditions beyond its control.

Faculty Directors:
Michelle Bettencourt, Modern Languages and Literatures, 224 Whitesides Hall, 828-251-6282,
Rodger Payne, Religious Studies, 138 Zageir Hall, 828-250-2397,