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  • Locations: Sahuarita, United States
  • Program Terms: Jan Term
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Description:

Common Ground on the Border
Faculty leader: Walt Michael



Course Description
This course will be a travel January Term to both the Republic of Ireland as well as to the North of Ireland that remains part of the United Kingdom. The history of "the Troubles" (the years of violent conflict in the North of paramilitaries of the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster paramilitary forces that ended in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement for the first time arrived at a tenable peace solution that declares a united Ireland can only come from a direct vote of all of the Irish people (North and in the Republic). Given Brexit's ramifications for Northern Ireland and the border in the Irish Sea that all Irish sides oppose, there is an opportunity for that vote to happen and unify Ireland because those in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. When Brexit occurs those in Northern Ireland because they are still part of Great Britain have to leave the European Union. Since most want to remain in the EU they will no doubt push for a vote to unify to remain in the EU by leaving the UK. This will take years but going next January will be one of the most fascinating times to be in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. I have many contacts in Ireland as I have travelled there many times with Senator Patrick Leahy who has been involved in the peace process from the 1970s to today. So we will meet with representatives of both parliaments, press from both sides, voters and if possible, one of the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, a family friend, John Hume. We will also take in the cultural sites of both parts of Ireland (the literary culture of James Joyce, the great poets too many to name here and meet with students and faculty of Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Ulster, Tip O'Neill Chair in Peace Studies (in commemoration of Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill) with which I have many contacts. We study the Irish conflict in my Conflict Resolution class PSI 3333 and this fall, the delegation I take to the Model European Union will be representing the Irish Republic which will be a topic at the Model EU with regard to Brexit. I know that some of those students as well as some from my conflict course will be most interested in coming to Ireland in January 2021.

As a capstone, students will work on presentations (writing, film, audio) that will be presented on campus in spring semester in an effort to shed light on the realities of immigration issues.

The class will be led by Walt Michael, Founder of Common Ground on the Hill and Artist in Residence at McDaniel College.  Click on this link to read about his experiences in the borderlands.  There are two entries ….. scroll down to the bottom for the first entry, then read the entry at the top.

Participants must be comfortable with a fair amount of walking, exploring the Sonoran Desert.  Participants must be mentally and physically able to handle high stress situations.  Knowledge of Spanish is desirable but not a prerequisite.


Location: Sahuarita, Arizona

Students will gather very early on Monday morning, Jan. 13th and fly to Tucson, AZ, returning to BWI on Tues., Jan. 21st.

Highlighted Itinerary Activities
Jan. 13: Leave from BWI, arrival in Arizona, dinner, orientation
Jan. 14: Visit Sonoran Desert Museum and US Federal District Court, Tucson.
Jan. 15: Tour the Sonoran Desert   Visit a migrant memorial in the desert
Jan. 16: Visit the Commodore, a Jesuit migrant care station in Nogales.
Jan. 17: Common Ground on the Border events: music and craft classes, evening concert featuring blues artist Scott Ainslie.
Jan. 18: Common Ground on the Border events: music and craft classes, key note speakers and a concert of a variety of Southwest musicians.
Jan. 19: Tubac Presidio Concert with Teodoro Ramirez, Tucson’s Official Troubador and John Coinman, Musical Director of Dances With Wolves and the Kevin Costner Band.  Shopping at the Tubac Presidio outlets.
Jan. 20: Sight Seeing
Jan. 21: Return to Maryland


Students will stay in the homes of church members and Green Valley Samaritans.  Meals will be provided at the Common Ground on the Border event, and other meals will be taken in restaurants.  All food costs are covered by the total fee.


Course objective: To gain a full understanding of immigration issues in the Sonoran Desert, while working with the Green Valley Samaritans and attending Common Ground on the Border and the Border Fair.

Students will view several films during the Fall semester at a time convenient to all participants.  Instructor will give an orientation and group panning session.

Students will write a reflection paper and make a campus presentation in the second semester, utilizing cell phone videos and pictures, interviews, etc.




Maximum capacity: 6

Click "Apply Now" above and follow the prompts to log in.  Participants will need to speak with Walt before being accepted.

Note: Registration in a study tour does not guarantee participation. The faculty leader for the study must provide final approval for all registered students to participate.


Application deadline: Oct. 1, 2019

Last day to withdrawal:  Oct. 15, 2019

This program is currently not accepting applications.