Loras-Ireland Study Abroad students and Dr. Koch Explore Killiney Beach south of Dublin.

Dr. Kevin Koch, Professor of English, was the Faculty Director of the Loras-Ireland Study Abroad semester in Spring 2012.  Eleven Loras students—including English majors Reed DeBrower (’14), Kylie George (’13), Tira Hepker (’13), and Samantha Reynolds (’14)—accompanied Dr. Koch to Dublin from January to May. 

The Loras students took two classes from Dr. Koch and two of their own choosing from Loras’ host-school, IADT (Institute of Art, Design, and Technology—Dun Laoghaire).

Dr. Koch’s first course was titled “The Nature of Nature in Ireland.”   In that course students studied:

  • The basic geology of Ireland and the impact of the ice age;
  • Early Irish settlement – Neolithic (stone age) people who built Newgrange, the passage tomb that is also an astronomical clock marking the winter solstice;
  • Druidic Celts and their interactions with nature and general environment;
  • The early Celtic Christian church and how it retained pre-Christian attitudes toward nature.  We looked at the monastic tradition in places like Skellig Michael and Glendalough, in wild and beautiful natural settings
  • The arrival of Viking invaders, Normans, British colonial rule, and the impact of each of these on the natural world and the overall Irish landscape
  • Contemporary environmental issues in Ireland
  • Nature-based literary readings from Tim Robinson (Connemara), Robert MacFarlane (The Wild Places), Seamus Heaney (bog poems), Patricia Monaghan (The Red-Haired Girl From the Bog), Tomas O’Crohan (The Islandman), and John Millington Synge (Aran Islands).

Students also wrote and workshopped two creative nonfiction works of their own:  1) Narrative essay on an Ireland nature experience; 2) Literary journalism (research/narrative piece about a particular place in Ireland)

The second course, “City as Text,”  included the following:

  • A print/verbal Walking Tour of a section of Dublin
  • An ongoing journal reflecting on Ireland experiences and encounters.
  • An individual research paper and presentation on topics such as:  Catholicism in modern Ireland;  the role of technology in the rise and fall of the Irish economy; cemeteries as a reflection of Irish history and culture; Ireland as a center of learning (medieval and modern); traditional/modern Irish music; environmental issues surround the cutting and burning of peat; Irish cuisine; Immigrants to Ireland (after centuries of emigration); author James Joyce’s ongoing “presence” in Dublin.

The students’ IADT courses included: 19th Century Irish Literature; Intro to Irish Cinema; Romantic Age Literature; Visual Culture; Intro to Music Business;  Political Economy and Globalization.

The study abroad semester also included several weekend or day-long course-related trips, including:

  • Connemara, the Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher
  • Dingle Peninsula
  • Hill of Tara and Newgrange
  • Glendalough

Students also arranged travels of their own to continental Europe.  And Dr. Koch, of course, rented a bicycle on several occasions.














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