Arts, Culture, and Spirit on the Silk Roads

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Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 quarters

Taught by

visual arts, Chinese studies, human development

All human societies and cultures express their relationship to spirit through art. Art is the earliest and most enduring expression of humanity. For community and the individual, art can be a practice of connecting with higher consciousness and with the spirit. In today's global community it is important to understand art of other cultures and by so doing to awaken art within oneself while learning to understand the "other."

Education and Arts are at the core of creating a healthy, diverse, and civic society. Children naturally understand the importance of art and are creating art constantly in their play. Children also have an instinctive sense of right and wrong. In the modern, industrial world these natural abilities often become suppressed and lost. Modern educators need to be confident in their own artistic abilities and grounded in their own moral core; they need to be trained in communication across cultures to be able to support development and cooperation in the modern world.

Silk Roads could be a metaphor for such cooperation. In the past, Silk Roads connected cultures of east and west and facilitated trade, communication and advancement of consciousness in a peaceful way. What are the Silk Roads of today? How can we envision Silk Roads of the future?

The students in this half-time, interdisciplinary program will immerse themselves in study and practice of art and in cultural experiences that are vastly different from the Western dominant culture by studying Native American, Muslim, Hebrew, and Chinese cultures. Students will make art, study myths and world religions as they have been shaped by cultures and landscapes of the past, and examine cultural and ethical norms. Students will also examine cultural influences and pressures of today's global society and will investigate the importance of preserving and developing cultural, artistic, and ethical traditions. Students will engage in traditional academic study such as reading, writing, and seminars and will also engage in art making, meditation, community events, and the practice of Tai Ji. Students will participate in their community's spiritual practices and will cultivate their own spiritual, meditative, ethical, and artistic life. In addition to classroom study, students will participate in meditation retreats and will go on field trips to explore art and spiritual resources in the community.

In winter quarter students will be able to work on community service projects, in schools, and on Native American reservations. Students will also have the option to travel to China in March of 2017 to study in important Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian centers.

Possible MiT endorsement credits are available. Please contact the faculty for more information.

Program Details

Fields of Study

international studies visual arts

Preparatory For

business, education, & cultural studies


Fall Open Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Study Abroad

China 3 weeks, winter, approximately $3,500.00, with possible extended stay abroad for service learning and for mentoring Chinese students in American culture and English language. For details on study abroad, visit or contact Michael Clifthorne at

Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

Fall Quarter: Every Saturday, 9:30 am - 5 pm; Winter Quarter: Specifics to be announced. Overnight retreat is planned for Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 18-19, 2017. Study abroad: Week 6-10 of Winter quarter.

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning 25 - 49% Delivered Online


$50 in fall for an overnight field trip; $20 in winter for Lunar New Year seminar registration and concert tickets. For study abroad in China and Vietnam, 3 weeks, winter, approximately $3,500.00


2017-12-13Winter quarter fee updated to $20 (was $10)
2017-07-06New Fall/Winter Program: Replacing Business and Culture along the Silk Road