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Pilgrimage Course (Spring 2019)

PHIL449501 - self-knowledge and discernment: the experience of pilgrimage


About The Course

We know that taking a walk can clear our heads, help shake a headache, prompt the emergence of previously unexpected solutions, or set a rhythm for stimulating conversation. Walking sometimes goes together with thinking in a way that opens the mind while exercising the body. The western intellectual tradition has a long history of reflecting while walking and also reflecting upon walking.  But some walks offer far greater spiritual significance than others.  Undertaken with a purpose and a goal, a walk can become a pilgrimage.  For a walk to be a pilgrimage it can be a journey to a location of spiritual significance, but it must be undertaken with an intentional openness to a transforming experience.   We are the inheritors of thousands of years of historical examples of pilgrimage, in which walking became the model for living in response to God’s call.

In the speed of our contemporary lives, this deliberately slow mode of transit can guide us in our attempts to know who we are, what we ought to do with our lives, and the challenges that stand in our way.  The practice of pilgrimage can have many facets:

An opportunity to be alone with oneself, so as to ponder one’s condition and one’s calling
A way of connecting with and reflecting upon the non-human world,
A place to encounter other pilgrims willing to slow down and strive for meaningful conversations
A time to be deeply receptive to the experience of transcendence and our relationship to God

This course will provide some of the historical, philosophical, and spiritual resources needed to make our two weeks of walking the Camino de Santiago – one of the great pilgrimage routes of the Medieval Christian world - a time of reflection and discernment that we undertake as both as individuals and as a class community.  


Enrollment and Commitment

The course is structured in several parts, all of which are required for participating students:

  • 8 course meetings during the Spring 2019 semester (Thu, 1-3pm - every other week)
  • 2-night weekend retreat: Date TBD (February or March 2019)
  • 17-Day Pilgrimage: May 21 - June 7, 2019

Because of the unique design and intention of this course, each of the above components is required for course credit and for building community and trust among the group. Additionally, this course requires participants to hike for approximately 15-18 miles each day for 13 consecutive days in rugged outdoor conditions.

The group will be limited to 10 undergraduates, Professor David Storey, and possibly additional staff members.  Students will be approved for enrollment based on academic interests, grades, and previous relevant experience. 

Interested in the course?
Admission to this course is by application, interview and faculty approval only.



The application deadline was Friday, October 12, 2018 at 11:59pm EST

*Note: Only Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors are eligible to apply for this course

After your application is reviewed, you will be notified via email
if you are invited to move on to the interview portion of the selection process. Please allow 1-2 weeks for your application to be read and reviewed.


Fees and Logistics

The mandatory course fee associated with this course is $1,300 and this will cover:

  • Lodging while in Spain
  • Group formation costs including all-expenses for 2 day weekend retreat
  • 2 Program meals over the course of the Pilgrimage
  • International health insurance coverage while in Spain

Participants will be responsible for most daily meals while in Spain, which would total between $20-$30 (USD) per day. This is to accommodate individuals' varying physical needs. Participants will also be responsible for the necessary supplies, including appropriate hiking attire, backpack, shoes, toiletries, water, etc.


Course Syllabus

A full, detailed syllabus will be provided for all students who are admitted to the course. If you are interested in the content of the course, you may check back soon for a working draft of the Pilgrimage Course syllabus. Please note that this copy is a draft and is subject to changes and revisions prior to the start of the spring semester.

If you have any questions, please check the FAQ page for more information.

If you have additional questions, please contact Professor David Storey at