International or Indigenous Course Module Program

U of T is planning for increased undergraduate student travel for University-sanctioned international activities beginning May 1, 2022, subject to the rules of partner institutions and host countries, and pending further changes to Global Affairs and public health guidelines. For regular updates related to studying abroad, you can visit the Vice-Provost Students COVID-19 FAQ page. 


International & Indigenous Course Modules (ICMs) are a great way to combine academic study with a short-term international experience. Professors lead ICM trips over the Fall or Winter Reading Week in conjunction with specific courses. Upcoming ICMs include trips to Mexico City and Singapore. The Faculty of Arts & Science covers travel and living expenses for students and faculty.

All student participants must be current Arts & Science (St. George) degree undergraduate students in good standing and be enrolled in an academic program at the time the proposed activity takes place. All participants must also be enrolled in the course in which the ICM is embedded.

Student Financial Commitment: Chosen students are asked to contribute $200.00 each towards their ICM. These funds can be collected through group fundraising events.

Note: In an effort to provide as many opportunities as possible, priority will be given to students who have not already received funding for a Faculty of Arts & Science international opportunity including 398 REP, ICM, CFHU or DIIIF. Some exceptions may apply.

Contact: For more information about ICMs or if you have questions, please email


Past ICM Courses

    Professor: Katherine Patton

    Maximum number of students in the ICM: 10

    Location of ICM: New Mexico

    Travel dates: February 15-22, 2020

    Description of ICM

    The character of social and political relations at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico is strongly contested in North American Archaeology. Some archaeologist argue that Chaco is an example of social complexity in the absence of state-level authority; other contend that conventional thinking is clouded by pre-existing ideas of statehood, and that Chaco was a state. The area was an important regional centre in the Colorado Plateau between AD 1020 and 1125. Ancestral Pueblos had been farming maize in small communities across this desert environment for over 1000 years, but by the 10th century, these dispersed groups were integrated into a larger social and political entity centred at Chaco Canyon. Archaeological evidence shows that powerful elites, who controlled trade with Mexico, began to construct imposing stone structures called Great Houses at this site. These were elite structures, but also drew people together from the broader Plateau to participate in house building, feasting, and ceremonial events.

    Professor: Rachel Silvey

    Maximum number of students in the ICM: 10

    Location of ICM: Singapore 

    Travel dates: February 15-23, 2020

    Description of ICM

    This proposed module is entitled “Global Migrations in Asia: Patterns, Processes, People” and is part of a longstanding emphasis within the Contemporary Asian Studies curriculum on political-economy, migration, and development. The ICM builds on recent introductory-level curricular improvements that provide students moving into the capstone course, CAS400H, with effective preparation for firsthand, grounded experience in Asia. For the AY2019-2020, we will focus on migration to and from Singapore.

    More than two-thirds of the world’s population lives in Asia, and the numbers of migrants both within and between Asian countries, as well as internationally from Asia continues to grow dramatically. Indeed, whereas many news media accounts suggest that the majority of the global “migration crisis” is unfolding around the borders of North America and Europe, in fact global South-South migration rates dwarf those of the global South-North migrations.

    Under conditions of such rapid development and rising migration, firsthand field research experience in Asia allows students to explore pressing social questions about sustainability, inequality, transnational relations, and rural-urban dynamics. How is the rising tide of new urban residents and global labour affecting social protest, social cohesion, and immigration policy? How do migrants deploy telephone and Internet services in their journeys, and how do they understand their “places” in their local nodes of the global economy? Through case studies of cities in Myanmar, Singapore, and Jakarta, we will examine how residents experience and relate to migration, how their inclusion or exclusion from various forms of social and national citizenship is produced, and how officials (private, government or informal) participate in the management and control of migration flows, and how the study of migration illuminates the larger patterns of political-economy and development in Asia. The ICMs will focus not just on official state plans, but also on grassroots social dynamics and their reformulations across scale.

    Professor: Matthew Light

    Maximum number of students in the ICM: 10

    Location of ICM: Mexico City

    Travel dates: February break, 2020

    Description of ICM

    The 2019-20 ICM will be broadly similar to the 2017 trip, focusing on organized crime and corruption in Mexico. However, we will make the ICM more participatory and engaging by expanding students’ interactions with their Mexican peers.

    I developed CRI 427 as the first CRIMSL undergraduate class on organized crime and corruption, covering a range of theoretical problems, including how organized crime groups develop; how they interact with state institutions; and how to combat them while respecting the rule of law and civil rights. Contemporary Mexico illustrates all these questions. In recent years, the Mexican government has been fighting a “criminal insurgency” of drug-trafficking “cartels” that have overrun some parts of the country and corrupted public officials. In response, the Mexican armed forces have conducted a highly militarized anti-mafia campaign aided by the United States. This “narco-insurgency” is the most extreme mafia-related conflict in the world today.

    To explore these issues, in 2017, I led ten students from CRI 427 on the first CRIMSL ICM to Mexico, in which, students studied the Mexican narco-insurgency, and possible solutions to it, in the safe environment of Mexico City. The ICM was developed with Professor Monica Serrano of the Colegio de Mexico (“Colmex”), one of the leading experts on Mexico’s security problems; and assisted by a doctoral student, Valentin Pereda, originally from Mexico City. The ICM featured unique activities, including presentations by Professor Serrano and other leading scholars, and meetings with Mexican officials and civil society activists, and Canadian diplomats. We also went on an orientation walk around downtown Mexico City and visited the Anthropological Museum and Teotihuacan pyramids, major pre-Colombian monuments.

    Professor: Grant Henderson and Russell Pysklywec

    Maximum number of students in the ICM: 12

    Location of ICM: Central Turkey (Cappadocia, Nevsehir, Goreme—A UNESCO Geological World Heritage Site), Istanbul

    Travel dates: Fall break, 2019

    Description of ICM

    Anatolia has a fascinating geologic history of active and past tectonics. It is situated at the ancient Tethyan plate boundary that finished closure with the collision of the Himalayan system further to the east. Subsequently the entire Anatolian block seems to have been extruded westwards away from the Arabian plate collision: essentially the microplate is being stretched E-W. The field sites to be visited around Cappadocia in Central Anatolia are the geological locus for this extension. As such, the areas will encompass exploration of complex regions of major volcanism, seismicity,
    tectonic structure, and geothermal activity and this remarkable geologic diversity makes it an ideal location to study minerals, rocks, and tectonics. The ICM trip will allow students to observe a wide range of geologic features and discuss active geologic processes, with direct observation at specific field locations.

    At the same time, the geological intrigue of Anatolia is reflected in the cultural and historical complexity of Turkey. As the meeting place of continents and civilizations, the area represents one of the unique regions of the world to understand human socio-economic development, conflict, and interaction from antiquity to the present day. The past and present-day human life in the region has been impacted by the regional geology and tectonics. For example, underground cities of up to 10,000 people were carved into the soft volcanic tuffs and inhabited at stages from Hittite
    to early Christian times. Hydrothermal mineralization in the region has supported mining activity since Assyrian times. These and other field sites will be visited during the module to illustrate how anthropogenic factors are influenced by the geologic activity of Anatolia.

    Professor: Xu Chu and Daniel Gregory

    Maximum number of students in the ICM: 12

    Location of ICM: South Africa

    Travel dates: February 14-23, 2020

    Description of ICM

    The proposed course module covers themes that span from early Earth to Anthropocene. The Kaapvaal craton in South Africa is one of the only two pristine Archean continents that remained largely intact over the past three billion years and hosts the most spectacular and fascinating geologic phenomena on planet Earth. This ICM trip will visit type localities like the kimberlite pipe at Kimberley, komatiite outcrops along the Komati River, and the Archean Barberton greenstone belt; all are classic field areas discussed in every petrology textbook. The trip also includes Transvaal Supergroup the first stable sedimentary sequence on a continent, the rock records of Paleoproterozoic (2.0 Ga) supercontinent and glaciation, and the massive meteorite impact at Vredefort Dome.

    South Africa’s history and economy are built upon its natural resources, and the trip will visit the sites and mines of great geologic and economic significance. The Bushveld Igneous Complex and the Witwatersrand Basin contain some of the world’s richest ore deposits, which are the largest reserves (>50%) of platinum group elements and gold, respectively. Extensive debate still exists on the sources and mineralization processes, which we will explore at site visits. The Kalahari Manganese Field is a unique land-based massive sedimentary manganese deposit. The VMS-type gold deposit in the Barberton Greenstone Belt and placer diamond deposits of the Vaal Basin will also be discussed.

    The Wits gold mines and Kimberley diamond mine provide an excellent opportunity to explore the country’s conflicts and its history of exploitation inherent in colonialism and industrialization. We will also discuss why South Africa’s wealth of natural resources failed to improve Africans’ welfare, but instead had provided legitimacy for racial exclusivism, segregation, and social injustice. The magnificent history of humankind echoes that of Earth in southern Africa, where homo sapiens evolved and migrated. In addition to geologic sites, we are going to visit the Wonderwrek Cave that preserves the evidence of oldest controlled fire as well as a series of ritual spaces. Rock paintings dating back to the Paleolithic era scatter on many outcrops, adding to the geologic wonder and beauty.

    Professor: Helen Dimaras and Maria Papaconstantinou

    Maximum number of students in the ICM: 10

    Location of ICM: Athens, Greece 

    Travel dates: February 15-22, 2020

    Description of ICM

    The ICM will offer practical opportunity to observe major health concerns in Greece, currently magnified by the double burden of the economic crisis and ongoing influx of migrants fleeing war in the Middle East. For example, the economic crisis has left many Greeks unemployed, resulting in a spike in mental health issues and an increase in suicides. Due to political instability elsewhere, migrants arrive in Athens as a gateway to Europe, often in need of food, shelter, and medical assistance. Public hospitals struggle to meet the needs of locals and migrants alike, amidst healthcare cuts that have left even the most basic of services difficult to provide.

    The students will be introduced to local efforts aiming to meet the health challenges, mainly through a historical tour of grassroots social movements, meetings with advocacy organizations, government officials, academics and health-focused NGOs. The students will explore the sociopolitical context of global health in Greece and align the goals of the ICM to course-specific objectives. Embedded cultural visits will allow for critical reflection and group discussion. Language is not expected to be a problem, as most local partners speak English, and where they do not, both applicants are fluent in Greek and will be able to translate for the students.

    Professor: Franco Taverna

    Maximum number of students in the ICM: 8

    Location of ICM: The Netherlands

    Travel dates: February 15-21, 2020

    Description of ICM

    Innovations in Elderly Care

    HMB440H1: Dementia explores in depth the multi-disciplinary aspects of dementia with special attention paid to the clinical, genetic, molecular, and social aspects of dementia, with an overview focus on Alzheimer's disease. An embedded community-engaged learning opportunity allows upper-year life science students to become friendly visitors at a local long-term care facility to provide friendship and support to a matched resident. The visits and one-to-one interaction ground the academic learning goals, particularly the clinical and social aspects of dementia, by allowing students to explore what living with dementia is like and the challenges with providing care to the elderly, while also gaining further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. Caring for the aged, especially those with dementia, is an increasingly critical global health issue as people live longer and the elderly population increases, sometimes surpassing the younger population. The province of Ontario is currently facing a shortage of long-term care beds and facility staff, resulting in inconsistent good care; at least half of existing long-term care facilities need to be rebuilt or modernized to meet the 2016 guidelines listed by the Ontario Long Term Care Association. In March 2018, the Government of Ontario announced an investment plan that will help increase the number of beds available in the province in the next 10 years, and has invested $101 million over the next three years for Ontario’s dementia strategy, which includes enhancing and increasing access to programs, education, as well as training and respite service for care partners. This provides an ideal opportunity to integrate design features that would improve quality of life for the residents and lessen the burden of dementia.

    This would be the 2nd year of this ICM. In our first visit, 8 of our students experienced an intensive learning curriculum at three internationally recognized elderly care facilities in the Netherlands. Each has innovated in different ways to sustainably improve the quality of life for the elderly (see attached report). We now have 8 trained future leaders who can bring that knowledge the knowledge and practices back to Ontario.

    Quite interestingly, all three of the care facilities had at least one common theme – to bring a more normal and meaningful life to the elderly in their care. This is not unlike the “emotion centred” care philosophy modelled after the U.K. developed “Butterfly” model that has been recently piloted in Peel Region. There is clearly an appetite to change for the better. The question remains - what is the evidence of effectiveness of these distinct methods on the them of a meaningful life? Unfortunately – research on effectiveness is lacking (as discussed with our partners in the Netherlands on our trip).

    Therefore – we are applying to return to the Netherlands next year to, in partnership with our 3 facility leaders and innovators, develop the research methodology necessary to build evidence for effectiveness of the 3 distinct models of care. It is quite challenging to do research toward effectiveness in a quality of life setting, and we feel this learning outcome will be invaluable for our students as they progress to careers in this field in the current environment in Ontario.

    Professor: Robert Austin

    Maximum number of students in the ICM: 9

    Location of ICM: Tbilisi and Signagi, Georgia

    Travel dates: February 14-23, 2020

    Description of ICM

    Georgia: Democratization and Integration Amidst Conflict

    POL 359Y1 examines the consequences and potential of enlargement and deeper integration for the European Union (EU). The course emphasizes the impact that integration, and the prospect of integration, has on the potential member states and the countries bordering the EU. One of the most significant aspects of the EU’s foreign relations is the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Through these initiatives the EU seeks to promote stability and prosperity within neighboring states in accordance with its fundamental values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The 2014 crisis in Ukraine and the EU’s newly articulated commitment to offering Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia enhanced partnerships, Georgia’s role in the transit of natural gas and oil, as well as its ongoing territorial conflicts with Russia ensure Georgia’s enhanced importance for the EU and NATO. Where does Georgia go now? Can it join the Baltic States and become one of the very few post-Soviet success stories?


    Past ICM Experiences: