Purdue offers wacky LGBTQ study abroad to Paris, Berlin

Purdue University now offers an LGBTQ-themed study abroad program called “sex, history, and the cities.”  

The program will take participants to New York City, Berlin, and Paris, where they will explore “LGBTQ history and culture from the eighteenth to twenty-first centuries.”

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“Taking a comparative approach, we examine the changing meanings of same-sex sexual desire, acts, and identities,” a description for the course elaborates, noting that students will “uncover and recover how people formed communities around shared sexual and gender identities,” while examining “how those communities developed and survived, often in the face of devastating, often violent, social, legal, and economic oppressions.”

The program, open to students of all majors, will be condensed into six weeks as opposed to the normal 16-week semester length, but nonetheless awards students six credits towards their degrees, which, according to the school's credit hour guidelines, is at least double what a typical course would provide.

In previous years, students have participated in variety of LGBTQ activities. In Paris, they went sightseeing in the Montmartre neighborhood—which, according to the program’s blog, “was filled with sex shops, strip clubs, lingerie stores, [and] porn shops…”

While in New York City, they visited the Museum of Sex, where they viewed exhibits such as “FunLand: Pleasures & Perils of the Erotic Playground,” a carnival-themed room where they were encouraged to “contemplate the sexual subtext of carnivals,” as well as an attraction that one student simply refers to as a “bouncy castle of breasts.”

The same student recalls “actually being disturbed on some level at a display consisting of robots constructed to depict a sort of porn-viewing theater, complete with a video of the robots’ lascivious activities.”

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Other schools, such as Indiana University-Bloomington, are offering similar study abroad programs, with a program track titled International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender, which will take 20 students to the Netherlands from January until the end of the semester in May.

“Amsterdam, a city well known for its progressive politics and culture, provides a unique setting for this co-sponsored semester program…” the program website states.

The participating students will earn 16 IU credit hours for classes such as the “Theory and Application of Feminist, Lesbigay, and Queer Studies” course, and will also have the option to participate in a four-credit unpaid internship for 30 hours per week with “placements [at] an organization that serves the LGBTQ+ community.”

Campus Reform reached out to Kane and Pitts for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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