Socio-political Motivation of Experiential Travel Education in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries: The Grand Tour, World’s Fairs and Birthright Israel
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University of Washington Abstract Socio-political Motivation of Experiential Travel Education in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries: The Grand Tour, World’s Fairs and Birthright Israel Edward Porges Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Joy Williamson-Lott College of Education The purpose of this study is to illustrate that travel as experiential education, though not always obvious, often has political or cultural intent or ramifications. Objectives such as promoting cosmopolitanism, nationalism and imperialism, and colonialism may then become obvious by examination of various experiential education travel programs, past and present. This thesis will examine three examples of travel-oriented experiential education with political and social objectives from three different centuries: The Grand Tour of the 18th century, World’s Fairs of the 19th century, and Birthright Israel in the 20th and 21st centuries. These examples were chosen for study to emphasize that 1) travel, despite recently being recognized as such, is a form of experiential education that goes back at least three centuries; 2) experiential travel education perceived to be a cultural or fun experience may have a socio-political agenda as well; 3) experiential travel education can be focused upon different constituencies, from a single person to a small, specific group to the public masses; 4) the Grand Tour, World’s Fairs and Birthright Israel change in terms of their original educational mission. The findings suggest that social and political aims are often incorporated or stated objectives to travel experiential education. In the three examples studied, there are political components to the Grand Tour, World’s Fairs, and Birthright Israel. The research also showed that the mission of these first two examples morphed due to changes in the social and political nature of the times whereas the goals of Birthright Israel, given its newness, presently remains the same. Also revealed is that travel as experiential education is not a recent innovation, but by definition, goes back to previous centuries. It is, however, only since the last half of the 20th century that the term experiential education has been recognized and applied. Further, travel as experiential education is universally applicable whether an individual, a group, or the masses.
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