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  • Locations: Ballyvaughan, Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; Galway, Ireland; Inis Oirr, Ireland; Inishmore, Ireland; The Burren, Ireland
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
Program Description:



  • 18 years of age or above
  • Good academic and disciplinary standing at Penn State
  • 2.5 cumulative GPA or better at the time of application review
  • Sophomore standing or above at the start of the program 
  • Prerequisite for all ENGL courses: ENGL 015 or ENGL 030
  • Prerequisite for ART 499: Advanced Art : Students must have completed a 200-level Art course and have permission from the instructor, contact Professor O'Leary.

Program Description 

Travelling Ireland - Through Ecologies of Literature and Sustainability in the Arts

Penn State’s Irish program was conceived as a collaborative course between Literature and the Visual Arts. Ideas about place, why and how we tell stories, language, visual and written arts are a few of the ongoing conversations in our program. Ecologies of Literature,  sustainability, engagement and social action, post-colonialism, multi-generational trauma, resilience, history are studied through field trips, workshops with renowned poets, artists and practitioners.  The program is led by Professor Helen O'Leary and Professor Janet Lyon. 

Irish Resiliency: Art, Sustainability, and Literature in Ireland
Ireland has long been a place of resilience, creativity, and natural beauty.  More than a century ago, the Republic of Ireland, forged as a modern nation by playwrights and poets, produced a remarkable body of literary and visual art. Read the literature, study the art, and attend plays in Dublin; create your own visual and literary works under the mentorship of outstanding contemporary writers and artists in studios in the Burren, County Clare; use natural dyes, forrage plants and seaweeds, visit the Aaran Islands; and conclude five weeks at the medieval port city of Galway on Ireland’s west coast. Throughout the trip, students of art, literature, and writing will learn how this ancient place and small nation has managed to emerge as a leader in sustainability, from the times of the earliest monks to current environmental activists. 
Each year we invite many speakers to meet with our students to discuss a wide swath of contemporary concerns.

Bioregionalism, according to poet Gary Snyder, is the understanding that our relationship to the natural world takes place in a place, and it must be grounded in information and experience. Students enrolled in this interdisciplinary studio course will immerse themselves in the history, culture, and natural environment of Ireland and meet with contemporary artists, writers, and naturalists. We attended five significant plays at world acclaimed Irish theatres and visited museums and galleries throughout Ireland.  The students read selections from the long tradition of Irish writing that focuses on the natural world, from early humans who marked the landscape with stones to the monks and their largely anonymous poetry drafted when Ireland was heavily forested.  Famine and deforestation later shaped literary and political responses to the landscape.

The course involves travel for five weeks in Ireland (Dublin, The Burren School of Art, Inis Oirr, and the Galway area.  The course readings serve as a general introduction to issues in twentieth and twenty-first-century Irish culture and will specifically explore the landscape and locations of many of the stops on our trip.  The work of the course while in Ireland will consist of reading and discussing the common texts, visiting a number of sites through required field trips, meeting with a number of visiting Irish artists and writers, exploring some areas, such as Inis Oirr, at leisure, and drawing and writing in response to the locations. 

From travel and field observations, students keep an artist’s sketchbook. They draw from nature and observation, collecting plants and using them to create natural dyes, inks, and pigments. The students will also attend a basket weaving workshop with leading basket maker Joe Hogan. During the trip, or upon return to the United States, students choosing the final three credits in Studio Art will consult with Professor O’Leary and Professor Lyon to develop a project which will be completed upon return to campus.  Emphasis will be on learning about the local natural world and creating work that interacts with the environment in ways that are respectful and sustainable.


Summer: June 4 - July 2, 2024

Program Leaders

Program Leader Information

  • Helen O'Leary, Professor of Art, School of Visual Arts
  • Janet Lyon, Associate Professor of English and Women's Studies, College of the Liberal Arts
  • Brandi Lewis, Graduate Teaching Assistant


Course Descriptions

Students are required to select three courses (9 credits) appropriate to their academic level and area of concentration. All participants must register for both English and Art and a final project, either in writing or visual arts, must be submitted by the end of the summer session. Most Art students will enroll in 6 credits of Art and 3 credits of English. Most English students will enroll in 6 credits of English and 3 credits of Art. If you are not either an English or Art major, please select appropriate courses based on interests or to satisfy academic requirements. 

English Courses
  • ENGL 145/199: (GH;IL) Modern Irish Literature (3 credits), Instructor Janet Lyon
    • Students can choose their preferred course number from above, 145 or 199.
  • ENGL 399/499: Independent Study -- English* (3 credits), Instructor Janet Lyon
    • Students can choose their preferred course number from above, 399 or 499.
  • ENGL 404: Mapping Identity, Difference, and Place*  (3 credits), Instructor Janet Lyon 

Irish literature includes a long tradition of writing that focuses on the natural world, from early humans who marked the landscape with stones to the Irish monks and their largely anonymous poetry drafted when Ireland was heavily forested.  Famine and deforestation later shaped literary responses to the landscape. The poets, novelists, and playwrights of the Irish Revival, a modern literary and political movement, also turned to the natural world.  More recently, Irish literature includes such internationally renowned poets as Patrick Kavanaugh, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, and others. Students will meet with top contemporary Irish visual artists and writers, including Vona Groarke, Paula Meehan and others. From travel and field observations, students will keep a journal and develop their own writing with feedback from others in the class. The emphasis will be on the writing of literary texts that interact with the natural world and on the revision of those texts to produce a final project. Students who wish to write critically will also have the option to read and write a critical paper.

The first part of this course, which can be taken either as ENGL145GH/199 or ENGL404, will involve travel for five weeks in Ireland.  The course readings will serve as a general introduction to issues in twentieth-century Irish culture and will specifically explore the landscape and locations of many of the stops on our trip.  The work of the course while in Ireland will consist of reading and discussing the course texts, visiting a number of sites through required field trips, meeting with a number of visiting Irish writers, exploring some areas at your leisure, and writing in response to the locations. 

Art Courses
  • ART 199: Beginning Art  - Foreign Study  (3 credits), Instructor Helen O'Leary
  • ART 299: Intermediate Art - Foreign Study (3 credits), Instructor Helen O'Leary
  • ART 499: Advanced Art - Foreign Study (3 credits), Instructor Helen O'Leary   *prerequisite: Students must have completed a 200-level Art course and have permission from the instructor, contact Professor O'Leary.
This course will include artist workshops, readings, lectures, and site visits. Students will keep an extensive travelogue, which will represent their experience of being immersed in Irish culture, literature, history and contemporary life. We are very much "on the go" and we will have borrowed classrooms and workshops, we will work while we travel to sites, and you will sometimes work with photo and collage. These courses explore the creation of visual responses to the the emotional, physical, economic and psychological Irish landscape. We will investigate the idea of site, place, and time as they apply to historical perspectives and contemporary art-making practices. We will visit artist studios and encourage conversation with celebrated Irish artists. Students will be encouraged to experiment with a wide variety of materials and methods to develop their own personal vocabulary of practice techniques, promoting and developing self-expression and discovery.

Final Project
  • ART 499: Advanced Art - Foreign Study, Final Project (3 credits)
  • ENGL 499: Foreign Study -- English: Final Project  (3 credits)
A final project, either in writing or visual arts, must be submitted by the end of the summer session.

Course Selection

Students are required to take the prescribed courses listed above as participants on the program. The Education Abroad Office will register you for these courses. To determine how these courses will fit into your degree requirements, you will need to work with your academic adviser. Suggested tips:
  • Research courses offered on your program
  • Meet with your academic adviser to discuss potential courses abroad and your degree requirements.
  • Complete your Course Selection Questionnaire in the ‘Post-Decision’ section of your application to choose the courses you want from the program options.
  • Keep in mind that courses abroad may change or may be unavailable for your selected term, so you will need to discuss possible back-up course options

Academic Policies

  • You must enroll in a minimum number of 9 credits.
  • You cannot take any courses abroad on a Pass/Fail basis
  • If you are studying abroad in your final semester at Penn State, please note that Penn State may not receive your grades in time for graduation

Housing and Meals


Generally, housing arrangements include two students per bedroom as the default arrangement. 

In Dublin, housing will be provided by Trinity College, in the heart of the city.
In Galway, students will live in University College Galway housing.
In Ballyvaughan, accommodations are located at the Burren College of Art


Students will need to provide their own meals.

Costs and Funding

Program Costs

Summer Costs

For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.

Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.


The Education Abroad Office awards a number of grants and scholarships to students who participate in an education abroad program through Penn State Global. The application for the scholarships awarded through the Education Abroad Office is included with your program application. Eligibility is based on academic merit and/or financial need. You must have a current FAFSA on file to be awarded. There are additional scholarship opportunities through our partner universities, Penn State Academic Departments, and other sources. To view a full list of scholarships, eligibility requirements, and deadlines visit Funding Study Abroad.

Student Aid

Penn State students who plan to study on a Penn State approved program can use most forms of financial aid towards the cost of the program. Exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships. If you have specific questions regarding your aid awards, contact the Penn State Office of Student Aid.

Withdrawal & Refund Policy

Withdrawal and refund details are dependent on the timing and reason for your withdrawal from a Penn State Education Abroad Program. For specific details and steps on how to withdraw, read the Education Abroad Policies.

After Commitment

Once a student has committed to a Penn State Education Abroad program, they are financially responsible for any fees incurred on their behalf. Therefore, if a student plans to withdraw from a program it is their responsibility to immediately notify the Education Abroad office, in writing; email is preferred.

Regardless of the timing or reason for the withdrawal, the student will be responsible for paying the Education Abroad Administrative Fees. For faculty-led freestanding programs, there is a specific withdrawal penalty schedule. 

Education Abroad makes every attempt at keeping the program and administrative costs to a minimum. However, when you commit to participating in a program, Education Abroad begins to make financial commitments on your behalf. In case of withdrawal, the following fees will be charged to your Bursar account

  • Upon Commitment - 90 Days Prior to Departure: 25% Program Fee + EA Admin Fee 

  • 30 - 89 Days Prior to Departure: 50% Program Fee + EA Admin Fee 

  • 29 Days - Departure Date: 100% Program Fee + EA Admin Fee

Following the start of the summer semester, any adjustment of tuition charges will be made according to the Tuition Adjustment Schedule as determined by the Office of the Bursar. More information can be found on the University Senate Policy on Withdrawal and Leave of Absence.

After the Start of the Program

If a student withdraws after the start of a program, any adjustment of Penn State tuition charges will be made according to the Tuition Adjustment Schedule as determined by the Office of the Bursar. Students may be responsible for up to 100% of program costs. In most cases, partial credit cannot be awarded for leaving a program before its successful completion.

For additional information on withdrawal policies, separate and apart from financial consequences, please consult the University Senate Policy on Withdrawal and Leave of Absence.

Life Abroad

General Information

Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and transformative experiences of your college career. It is an opportunity to develop independence, build cross-cultural competencies, grow as a person, and enhance your academic program. Entering a new culture can be challenging for everyone. You may ask yourself: is this the right country for me? What are their cultural norms? How will my identity be perceived there? What can I do to prepare for this experience? What will my daily life be like? Below are resources to help you answer these questions.

Accessibility Considerations

Penn State Education Abroad works closely with campus resources and our partner institutions around the world to ensure that students of all abilities reach their goal of studying abroad. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged on an individual basis. If you have accommodation needs or further questions please consult with the Student Disability Resources office and your Education Abroad Adviser. Additional resources are available through the Penn State Global Website. Disability information will not be used during the admissions process, but rather is meant to provide students with resources to help in planning a successful experience abroad.

Gender and LGBTQA Considerations 

There are dramatic and subtle differences in how gender, identity, sexual expression, and sexual health are perceived in different countries. Before going abroad, it is important that you research the specific country or countries you will be visiting and have a full understanding of their cultural norms. Below are some resources to help you with that research and provide guidance for your life abroad.

Race, Ethnicity, and Faith Considerations 

When choosing a study abroad location and preparing for your travels, you will want to be mindful of how your experience will be different than what you are used to in the United States. Your racial, ethnic, and spiritual identities may be interacted with and labeled by others differently than what you expect. Here are resources to help you prepare for these differences.

Non-U.S. Citizens

It is possible for non-U.S. Citizens to study abroad through Penn State. To do so successfully, you must plan early because this process may involve obtaining visas and other governmental procedures. Check with your DISSA Adviser prior to committing to a study abroad program and speak with your Education Abroad Adviser for specific information on the host country. If you plan on traveling to other countries during your study abroad experience, you will need to research and make plans to adhere to immigration policies for all of the countries that you plan to travel to and through. You are responsible for applying for visas for all applicable countries on your own. Advisers in the Education Abroad office cannot apply for your visa for you. Additional information may be available through your country's embassy and the consulate for your study abroad country.

Next Steps

Steps to Study Abroad

The planning stages outlined on the Penn State Global website will help you have the best study abroad experience possible. We recommend that you begin this process at least one year prior to the semester you plan on studying abroad. Visit the Steps to Study Abroad section of the Penn State Global website.

How to Apply

Click the “Apply Now” button on this page to get started!

Application procedures can vary by program. Students should consult the application instructions available within each application. For more information, see the Application Process section of the Penn State Global website.


You must apply to this program by the Penn State deadline. For a list of deadlines visit the Application Process page of the Penn State Global website.

Contact Education Abroad

If you have general questions about Education Abroad opportunities at Penn State, please email

Peer Advisers

Education Abroad Peer Advisers are Penn State study abroad returnees who advise students on education abroad opportunities at Penn State. Each Peer Adviser can explain program options, give an overview of the study abroad process, as well as provide information about their experience abroad. Peer Advisers have walk-in hours in Boucke Building during the fall and spring semester when classes are in session. For more information, visit the Education Abroad Peer Adviser website.

Education Abroad Advisers

Education Abroad Advisers can provide information about courses, support services, application processes, housing details, program costs, cultural expectations, pre-departure requirements, and much more. For more information about how to meet with an Education Abroad Adviser, please visit the Penn State Global website.

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For information about upcoming events, scholarship opportunities, deadlines, and much more visit the Global Programs Events Calendar and follow us on social media!

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2024 01/24/2024
02/07/2024 06/04/2024 07/03/2024
NOTE: Start date marks arrival in host country. End date marks departure from program housing

Indicates that deadline has passed