Ignatian Seminar Program

Ignatian Seminars

For the past several years, the Institute has conducted a series of summer immersion courses in third world locations. These courses offer two-week to month long, intense, immersion opportunities in places like the Philippines, El Salvador, India, Argentina, and Tanzania. Pedagogically, these courses emphasize "education for life." Students are not only exposed to religion in underdeveloped locations, but also to the desperate economic and political conditions of marginalized peoples. As a result, these courses prepare students to become better global citizens.

Although the seminars typically take place in the summer, each seminar counts as a semester course, worth three credit hours in Field One (Religious Studies). Since these courses are frequently interdisciplinary, they can sometimes count for elective credit in other disciplines. Since IGSOR is able to subsidize these courses, prices are kept lower than other similar immersion courses at other schools.

These seminars immerse students into both difficult and beautiful realities of the world and help students become experientially aware of the acute disparities between the “haves” and the “have nots."

A Few Testimonials….

“Take me back to Tanzania…The trip left me with incredible lasting impressions, amazed at the beauty of Tanzania and driven with a sense of global social justice that never has animated me more passionately. No question this was the coolest and most thought provoking three weeks of my nineteen years on this earth” Elias Ayoub

“Looking back on what seems like a dream, I am incredibly grateful. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel somewhere I knew almost nothing about, a place where I never would have imagined traveling to in my life. I’m grateful for the chance I had to see, hear, and still today, respond to a land and culture of extraordinary people. I am grateful that I can sit here today, many months later, and reflect upon what I learned and experienced. And I am grateful that, as a result of this trip and class, that I am forever changed.” Tyler Kauffmann

Current Courses: 2017

IGSOR 307: May 22-June 8, 2017: Faith and Education on the Slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro

This seminar takes place in Marangu, Tanzania, a small village on Mt. Kilimanjaro. We will stay at a hotel which is a converted coffee plantation from the colonial era, teach in public and private elementary schools in the village, listen to presentations by various experts in education, religion, and public health, and local history, visit and worship in various religious communities, visit with local villagers from the Chagga tribe, hike the lush forests in the area, and feast on delicious food prepared at the hotel. Every evening we will spend at least two hours reflecting on and trying to understand the very beautiful but complicated social and cultural structures of this community. This seminar will include a hike up to the first hut on Mt. Kilimanjaro, as well as a two- day wild animal viewing safari.

Canisius students and Faculty at the first climber's hut on Mt. Kilimanjaro. 11,000 feet

Faculty: Dr. Timothy Wadkins, Professor of Religious Studies, Director of IGSOR Wadkins@canisius.edu

Dr. James Oigara, Associate Professor of Education

Dr. Philip Reed, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Three credit hours for fall, 2017 semester; Field One, Global Awareness Attribute.

IGSR 302: The Jesuit Mission in Latin America: Yesterday and Today

Taught in partnership with Campus Ministry

This course introduces students to the history and development of the Jesuit mission in Latin America, particularly in Argentina, and to Jesuit involvement and legacy in education, culture, the arts, and society in this region of the world. The course engages in interdisciplinary understanding (and critical assessment) of the lasting effects of Jesuit thought, activities, and organization in Argentina. An important goal of the course is to identify patterns of continuity and change in Jesuit understanding of justice from the sixteenth century to the present, and how those ideas informed their actions and the different models of education that Jesuits provided and still offer today in Latin America. The course meets regularly throughout the spring semester and then includes a two week summer immersion experience in Argentina.

This course is not merely academic, it is also a Campus Ministry directed immersion experience and will be a spiritual pilgrimage for participants. It is hoped that whether we are walking on pilgrimages, visiting holy sites, sharing our faith in formal and informal ways with all kinds of people, witnessing to spiritual leaders, reflecting on the Catholic faith or committing to team and individual spiritual practices, that these will be spiritual experiences. A large part of the success of this spiritual immersion will be on the willingness of the participant to commit to faith development over the course of the preparation and the trip itself and to finding God in all things.

Students and Faculty in Argentina in 2013

Faculty: Dr. Fernanda Astiz, Professor of Education astizm@canisius.edu

Field I: Religious Studies and Theology, Justice Attribute.

Students can also gain credits towards the following programs/departments: HIS, IR, SPA, LAS, JUSTICE, and EDUCATION.


IGSOR 306: July 10-30, Health, Wealth, and Faith in the Philippines

The Philippines is a country filled with contradiction. While most Filipinos are very poor and live in squalor, there is a significant sector that is very rich. While the country manifests immense religious fervor, there is widespread corruption and violence. While Filipino cities are crowded, choked by traffic jams, and polluted, the Philippines have some of the most beautiful mountains and beaches in the world. This immersion seminar will travel to three different locations to experience and learn from these contradictions: the small island of Bohol, the huge mega city of Manila and the influential Ateneo De Manila Jesuit University, and the Northern mountainous city of Baguio. In each location we will investigate the connections and interactions between religion, public health, and the country’s financial situation. We will hear presentations from economists, historians, theologians and anthropologists. We will visit numerous public health venues such as public and private hospitals, mid-wife birthing centers, organizations that care for the deaf, a holy mountain inhabited by animists, and numerous different churches. We will tour a major transnational corporation and speak with its CEO. Alongside our studies, we will hike, snorkel and see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

While this course is open to all students, it will be of particular interest to Religious Studies majors and minors, Pre-Med. Students, and business majors and minors.

Canisius students in front of a mid-wife clinic in Bobol, Phillipines, 2016

Three credit hours; fall semester 2018; Justice Attribute.

Faculty: Dr. Timothy Wadkins, Professor of Religious Studies, Director of IGSOR

Dr. Allison Backstrom, Director of Canisius Pre-Medical Program

Ateneo De Manila Semester Study Abroad Program

In addition to the three-week seminar, Canisius students have an IGSOR sponsored opportunity to study at the Jesuit University, the Ateneo De Manila, for an entire semester. The Ateneo is considered the most influential research University in South Asia and it offers courses in virtually all majors, including pre-medical and business courses that easily transfer back to Canisius. While attending the Ateneo, students live in student housing directly across the street from the University and are mentored by an American faculty person who is a professor at the University. This is a signature study abroad program that is also extremely inexpensive, hardly more than the expense of staying at Canisius for a semester. Moreover, studying at the Ateneo affords great opportunities to travel and to become immersed, both in Filipino culture and the varied cultures of South Asia.

Annie Westermeier, a sophomore Pre Med student said this about her 2016 semester at the Ateneo:

“I am having an incredible time here in a lot of different aspects, I am falling for this optimistic, warm culture of people and getting used to the fun of a big, chaotic city… I've had a lot of time for self-discovery kind of moments and traveling is insanely easy, exciting, and beautiful… Every day is a bit mentally challenging and so exciting at the same time…I am scared that when the time comes, I'm going to be too into it here to leave! So incredibly thankful for this opportunity to expand my understanding of the true reality of how a vaster majority of the world lives. This country exemplifies this disparity so well.”

For information about the semester study abroad at the Ateneo contact Dr. Timothy Wadkins, Wadkins@canisius.edu.

Walkway at the Ateneo De Manila University


This course is conducted in partnership with Campus Ministry.

The IGSOR India program merges academic study and cultural immersion in an intensive study of the the life of the Dalit (Untouchables) in South India. Students spend a semester in academic preparation for the trip, learning from campus experts on religion in India, the history of British colonization, environmental politics, and feminist movements. Embarking on their two-week cultural immersion, students learn from scholars and professors at Loyola College, Chennai about the history of Indian economics, Indian culture, religions tensions in India, Indian aesthetics, and the development of the Indian constitution after British rule. Following the academic portion of this immersion in metropolitan Chennai, students spend the remainder of their immersion in a small, rural village surrounded by Dalit communities. They are introduced first-hand to the struggles and triumphs of the Dalit by the Jesuit priests who run the Chennai Jesuit Mission, a series of social service programs that empower the Dalit through education, economic independence, and advocacy.

This seminar is a partnership with Campus Ministry and the Institute for the Global Study of Religion (IGSOR). Campus ministry helps with recruiting and training students, while IGSOR helps with funding and the academic component.

Canisius Students listen to lecture at a Sikh Temple in Chennai

Three credit hours, Justice Attribute

Faculty: Dr. Melissa Mosko, Assistant Professor of Philosophy moskom@canisius.edu

Campus Ministry Contact: Alice Zicari zicaria@canisius.edu or 716-888-2488

Look for our Seminar in El Salvador to return in the spring of 2019!


First-year students who have at least taken RST 101;
Current sophomores, juniors and seniors with a GPA of at least 3.0 or higher.

For more information about the summer study abroad trips, please contact Dr. Timothy Wadkins at 1-716-888-2824.