2014 Human Dignity Tour of Central Europe (Germany/Poland/Austria)


In front of the Altes, Museum Island, Berlin

The first trip to central Europe involved 30 students from two institutions. Dr. Brian Shelton, a theologian serving as an administrator and professor at Toccoa Falls College (TFC), and I both had interest in exploring the holocaust from the viewpoint of our respective disciplines. Dr. Shelton was interested in the resistance role of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the confessing church. I was interested in the role played by the ideas, meta-narrative, and authority of the social and life sciences as a legitimizer for the practices of euthanasia and genocide. After several planning sessions, a trip agenda that met and merged both of our areas of interest was woven together and advertised at our home institutions. It was a full agenda, moving us in and out of four European cities in just ten days. Fortunately, many students from both of our institutions were interested in joining us in this experience.

In March, Dr. Shelton, his colleagues, Dr. Gary Elkins and Shelby Hornsby, my colleague, Dr. Janet Dean, and I led the combined student group (most of the party is pictured to the right) through the tour; the itinerary involved overnight stays in Berlin, Germany; Krakow, Poland, Salzburg, Austria, and finally Munich, Germany.

The Travel Packet

Here is the travel packet that was used. The tour itinerary in described in more detail.

Highlights of the Tour

The opportunity to see so many important sites for the first time makes this tour very special. Here is a partial list of the venues visited: the Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin; Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp; old-town Krakow; the Wawel Castle; Auschwitz I; Auschwitz II (Birkenau); and Dachau Concentration Camp.

Watching students from different institutions form friendships.

Taking-in a lecture by a German Bonhoeffer scholar and hearing the testimony of a Jewish refuge from Berlin, Solame.

Experiencing the beauty of central Europe.

Personal Highlights

This was my first academic study-abroad experience. Previously, I had led sports teams to Scotland, Bolivia, Mexico, and Colombia. However, these previous experiences involved primarily staying put in one city and having much of the programming led by local partners. In contrast, this trip involved multiple cities, several venues in each city, various forms of ground transportation in and between European cities, and a team of professors serving as guides. Although Dr. Shelton and I worked together to create a trip designed to meet both of our curricular objectives, he was chiefly responsible for turning that plan into a reality; setting up the accommodations, making the travel arrangements, scheduling many of the venues, and then doing much of the leading during the trip. This freed me up to simply watch and learn. That was such a blessing!

I was able to take my daughter, Sarah, on the trip – then a freshman in high school. It was such a wonderful experience to have her come along. Although the material was emotionally difficult, she was so mature and held genuine interest in the entire experience. (And, when we visited Salzburg, we were able to go off-script, of sorts, for a day and take-in a “Sound-of-Music” guided tour!)

With Dr. Janet Dean, Dr. Brian Shelton, Dr. Gary Elkins, Munich

It was a privilege to be a part of such a great leadership team.

Brief Recap

Here is a brief recap of the experience that was put together shortly after the trip:

Future Tours

For more information about future academic tours, check out this website: https://www.asbury.edu/academics/cce/travel-courses/germany-poland/

Other Photos from the Tour