Harvard Summer Program in Cambridge, England
A program on nineteenth-century science and religion
Faculty: Anne Harrington and John Durant
“Oxford gave the world marmalade and a manner, Cambridge science and a sausage.”
— Nineteenth century, source unknown
Situated in a beautiful medieval university, and punctuated by two extended field trips, this eight-week program offers students an opportunity to immerse themselves in some of the most important debates about the interrelationships between science, medicine, and religion in the nineteenth century. An encounter with the Jurassic-era coastline of Dorset, discovering fossils, a tour of sacred and secular Belle Epoque Paris, and a visit to the nineteenth-century healing shrine of Lourdes all serve to bring the material to life.
Historically, there could hardly be a more appropriate setting for this program. Cambridge can lay claim to being the cradle of English science, producing the likes of Isaac Newton, William Harvey, and Charles Darwin. In the nineteenth century, the University of Cambridge also had one of the most eminent and active theology faculties in the world. As a result, Cambridge was deeply embroiled in most of the debates about science and religion. And the University and its colleges possess archives that are particularly rich in these areas.
Beyond the work of the course, students will be given ample opportunities to become intimate with the history, culture, and countryside of Cambridge. They will live in a traditional Cambridge college. They will be encouraged to rent bicycles for the duration of the course, and we will set a series of “challenge explorations” to local sites of historical interest. Time will also be carved out for group trips to classic Cambridge experiences like Shakespeare in the college gardens, Evensong in Kings College Chapel, punting on the Cam, and tea in a romantic orchard frequented by the likes of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, and Virginia Woolf.
Course of study
HSCI S-120 Study Abroad in Cambridge, England: Science, Medicine, and Religion in the Age of Skepticism (32840)Anne Harrington John Durant
In England in 1800, traditional religion exercised a huge influence over ideas about nature, human nature, and human society, but by 1900 the situation had changed dramatically. Now, the universe was generally understood to be far larger and far more ancient than most people could easily imagine. Humankind was generally regarded as an integral part of the natural world, the human soul was generally seen as being a product of the brain, and many phenomena that had previously been understood as miraculous experiences and healings were now being explained by medical science in new ways. In these and other ways, traditional religion appeared to have lost ground in many areas of culture.
The course will consist of two main parts: A three-week unit on geology, natural history, and evolutionary theory, inclusive of a relevant field trip and a three-week unit on the medical and mind sciences, inclusive of a relevant field trip. Each unit is capped with a further week for projects and supervised research.
One of the highlights of the course is the opportunity to do a supervised project in one, or more, of the important Cambridge archives related to the course theme (e.g., the Darwin Correspondence Project at Cambridge University Library and the Society for Psychical Research archives at both the University and the Trinity College Libraries). In addition, the substantial resources of Cambridge University’s many museums are also available.
To further enrich the experience, there are two field trips to sites that were critical to debates about science and religion in the nineteenth century. The first trip takes us to the stunningly beautiful Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage site in Dorset and East Devon in the southwest of England. With its striking exposures of fossil-bearing rocks, this dramatic landscape attracted many leading geologists and produced some of the most compelling evidence in the debates about geology and natural history in the early-nineteenth century. The second trip takes us to Paris, a major site of anticlerical and skeptical medical activity in the late-nineteenth century, and to Lourdes, the world-famous Catholic healing shrine in southwest France that was established in the late-nineteenth century. There we speak with representatives of the Medical Bureau of Lourdes, the official body that helps decide which of the many reported healings might be genuine miracles. And we explore how Lourdes, even today, is a product of the complex negotiations between faith and skepticism.
The application period is now closed.
Students must be at least 18 years old and have completed one year minimum of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.
The application materials, outlined below, are due January 31, 2013:
- A completed online application that includes:
- A $50 nonrefundable application fee
- A statement of interest in the program, including information on travel experience abroad (previous travel is not a prerequisite)
- Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)
- Name, e-mail address, and telephone number for up to two references (not relatives) who can attest to personal qualities pertinent to participation in an intensive study abroad program
Program directors may ask for interviews.
Students will be notified of admission decisions by mid-February.
There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The cost of the program is $7,750 and includes the following:
- Room and some meals
- Excursions (including meals when appropriate)
In addition to the program fee, students are responsible for:
- A health insurance fee (waived if students have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
- Transportation to and from Cambridge (plane to London and bus to Cambridge)
- The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
- Any immunizations
See a sample budget for estimated expenses.
How to pay and funding options
See Funding and Payment for payment deadlines, deposit amounts, and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.
Students live in dormitory-style accommodations at Robinson College. Robinson College is located close to the town, a short walk from the “Backs,” which run down Queens’ Road.
Contact Anne Harrington, email@example.com.
Students with disabilities
Students should contact the disability services coordinator as soon as possible. See Students with Disabilities for more information.