The Department of History launched a travel/study program in the summer of 2008 called the European Civilization Program. It concentrates on visits to three of the continent’s most important cities, London, Paris, and Rome. Two courses will be offered simultaneously by two professors from the department, Lee Estes and Bill Cumiford. The program’s intention is to provide Chapman students with a hands-on introduction to the history and culture of Western European Civilization through a three week course of study that meets both the intent and, more importantly, the spirit of Chapman's general education program. In addition, the two courses are intended to meet the specific curricular needs of History majors as well as provide some of them with the opportunity to do preliminary research on their senior theses.
The great strength of the European Civilization Program is not, however, the courses taken individually, but the way that these two courses, and the expertise of their instructors, complement and enhance one another. Chronologically, and with only a little overlap, the courses cover a period in European history and culture from classical antiquity to modern times, and the expertise of the instructors range from politics and society to art and architecture with specialized knowledge in such fields of study as religion, military conflict, urban studies and intellectual history. Though each course has its own entirely separate syllabus, they will be taught at the same time in the same three cities. This allows students in either course to draw on the knowledge of both instructors, which is particularly important to those who are doing research on their senior thesis as part of the trip. It also allows students to share and compare their experiences with students in the other class, making for a more comprehensive learning environment. In fact, some sessions will be run jointly, with instructors taking turns lecturing and answering questions, and, in addition to some texts specific to each course, all students will be required to purchase Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door: The Travel Skills Handbook.