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  • Locations: Chennai, India; Cochin, India; Kerala, India; Madurai, India; Mahabalipuram, India; Palakkad, India; Valparai, India
  • Program Terms: Winter
  • Restrictions: Elon applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: Winter
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Class Eligibility:
0-First Year and Above
Minimum GPA:
Language Prerequisite:
Language(s) of Instruction:
All courses in English
Course Prerequisite(s):
Housing Options:
Shared Hostel/Hotel
Internship Option:
Volunteer/Service Opportunities:
Max Credits To Receive/Transfer:
Disciplines of Classes Available:
Asian Studies, Elon Core Curriculum, Women's/Gender Studies
Program Capacity:
Program Advisor/Manager:
Janelle Papay
Pre-departure Course #:
GBL 186
Program Leader 1:
Amy Allocco
Program Leader 2:
Brian Pennington ELR Unit: 1 unit
Program Description:
Course DescriptionHousingItineraryEligibility / DeadlinesPre-Departure CourseCancellation PolicyCostScholarships / GrantsLinksMore Information

India Identities

Course Description

GBL 286/REL 286   India's Identities: Religion, Caste & Gender in Contemporary South India   4 S.H.

This Winter Term course emphasizes the diversity of contemporary Indian identities, devoting particular attention to religion, caste, and gender. This course brings students into a range of Indian religious spaces associated with Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish traditions and into direct contact with Indians from an array of caste backgrounds, education levels, and occupations, allowing them to develop an informed appreciation of the diversity of the world's largest democracy.  Through directed study opportunities, lectures, and daily interactions with Indians who live and work in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, we will consider the nature of religious identity and practice; explore cultural expectations regarding gender (including arranged and other forms of marriage); assess the ways in which caste does and does not matter in contemporary society; and analyze how tradition and modernity interact in this rapidly changing nation.

Prerequisite: GBL 186. Application and acceptance required. Additional travel fee is required. Counts toward Civilization or Society requirement. The course may also be counted as a Religious Studies elective, and counts toward the minor in Women's & Gender Studies and Asian Studies. This course satisfies the Experiential Learning Requirement for the Elon Core Curriculum requirement. 

  • Grades count toward an Elon GPA.

  • Study abroad courses may not be taken on an audit or pass/fail basis.


Students will be housed in shared accommodations.

Tentative Itinerary

  • Taking South India as its “classroom,” this course emphasizes direct interactions with a variety of Indians – professors, flower sellers, upwardly-mobile young professionals, college students, ordinary working people, artists, and a human rights lawyer, to name a few – through: 1) Directed Study opportunities, 2) visits to homes, agricultural fields, and religious sites, and 3) in-situ learning (e.g., analyzing the ‘visual myths’ carved into the seventh-century rock-cut monuments of seaside Mammalapuram while standing in front of these impressive sculptures or learning about local agriculture practices while staying overnight in a traditional joint family home in a rural village).
  • Spend several days in Chennai, India's fifth-largest city, at both the beginning and end of the course. There we will have guest lectures (e.g., human rights law, languages and literatures of India, the joint family and arranged marriage), and be engaged in Directed Study opportunities (e.g., yoga, cooking, musical instruments), as well as go on walking tours of the religious sites (Hindu, Jain, Christian, and Muslim) in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods and through the city's shopping bazaars and spice markets.
  • Celebrate the colorful Pongal harvest festival
  • Hike in the beautiful Periyar Tiger Reserve and view wildlife during a boat ride on Periyar Lake
  • Tour an organic spice garden
  • Study the seventh-century rock-cut monuments of seaside Mammalapuram and interact with artisans from its renowned sculptor community
  • Spend a night in a homestay in a traditional agricultural village
  • Learn about India's rich artistic and performance traditions, including Bharata Natyam and Kathakali dance forms and Carnatic music
  • Focus on topics as diverse as contemporary Indian art, Tamil language, and lived Islam, and visit a multi-religious healing shrine and the Gandhi Museum while staying in Madurai, one of the South India's famous Hindu temple cities 
  • Pass a day watching life unfold while floating along Kerala's scenic backwaters in a traditional houseboat, our floating hotel that evening 
  • Consider the history of colonial contact and religious exchange in the city of Cochin and its islands, where we visit a Jewish synagogue, India's oldest European church, Chinese fishing nets, and the Dutch Palace

Note: Itinerary is subject to change due to availability of local facilities and scheduling issues.

Eligibility & Application Deadlines

The eligibility requirements specific to this program are listed in the Fact Sheet at the top of this brochure.

See the Deadlines and Events Calendar for the most up-to-date deadline information. 

  • March 1, 2016: Priority period begins for all programs. 

  • 11:59 PM, March 17, 2016: Priority period deadline.  All applications received during priority period are reviewed for eligibility and merit rather than time of submission. 

  • March 29, 2016: Notification begins.  The GEC will send notifications via email for all applications received by priority period deadline.

  • March 29, 2016: Change period begins.  Students that submitted applications during the priority period can switch into available programs by submitting a Change Form (available March 29). 

  • March 31, 2016: Rolling period begins.  New applications will be accepted and reviewed on a space-available basis.

  • Sept. 1, 2016:  Final application deadline.  **Students that cancel after this date will not have the deposit refunded.

Students are required to take the fall pre-departure course associated with this Winter Term course. All students will automatically be registered for the pre-departure course but must register themselves for the Winter Term course during pre-registration for Winter Term.

Pre-departure Course: GBL 186

This Winter Term course has a required one semester-hour fall pre-departure course associated with it. Students accepted into the Winter Term course will be automatically registered for the associated fall course. There is no additional cost for the pre-departure course for students who are registered full-time even if the one credit creates an overload for a student's registration.

It is Elon University policy that students who are registered part-time for the fall semester will be charged the additional one credit hour of tuition for the fall pre-departure course. Students will also be charged four credit hours of tuition for winter term in addition to the program fees. If students contact the Bursar's office to verify that they will be enrolled full-time in the spring semester, the four hours of winter term tuition will not be collected. 

There will also be a required meeting about the course in May.


The spring meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 4, 5:30-7:30 PM, location to be announced.


The fall pre-departure course will take place on the following dates from 5:30-7:30 PM, location to be announced:
  • Sept. 7, 2016 (Wednesday)

  • Sept. 24-25, 2016 (*Saturday-Sunday overnight course retreat in Asheville, NC)

  • October 19, 2016 (Wednesday) 

  • Nov. 9, 2016 (Wednesday)

  • Nov. 30, 2016 (Wednesday)

  • Dec. 7, 2016 (Wednesday)

**At least one additional required course meeting will be scheduled to visit the Sri Venkatesvara Temple in Cary, NC.

Cancellation Policy

To cancel your participation in a program, complete the Winter Term Withdrawal questionnaire in your application.

Per the Study Abroad Policies webpage, please note the following payment and cancellation deadlines:
  • Sept. 1 - 15, 2016:  Students that cancel within these dates will not have the deposit refunded.
  • Sept. 15, 2016: Full payment deadline.
  • Sept. 16 - 30, 2016: Students that cancel within these dates are responsible for 50 percent of the cost of the program.
  • Oct. 1 - 13, 2016: Students that cancel within these dates are responsible for 75 percent of the cost of the program.
  • Oct. 14, 2016: Students that cancel on or after October 14 are responsible for the full program cost.
Note: You are responsible for the costs noted above if you cancel regardless of whether you have paid the program fees at the time of cancellation.

Deposit Refunds - If you have paid the deposit and are cancelling your participation prior to the deposit refund deadline, the amount will remain as a credit on your account to be applied towards the following semester’s billing. If you have any questions about your deposit, you may contact the Bursar’s office at or 336.278.5300.

*All students are automatically enrolled in a travel insurance policy through iNext, an outside insurance provider. This policy covers students who must cancel their participation due to serious health issues that occur after October 1. In some instances (evaluated on a case-by-case basis) the travel insurance may insure against changes in mental health. The insurance does not cover any other changes in circumstances such as disciplinary or academic status; job, internship, graduate school or theatrical performance opportunities; leadership opportunities on campus; fear; other personal issues. Students who must cancel their participation after the final day to have the $400 deposit refunded may be able to seek a refund through the travel insurance company.

If airline bookings have already been made by the time of a student's cancellation, some airlines may issue the student a voucher for the value of the ticket less some penalty fee for change in ticketing. These are usually valid for 12 months with the airline issuing the ticket. The airline can provide specific details.

If you have any questions regarding this policy, please contact Woody Pelton, Dean of International Programs. We encourage you to address any questions you may have as soon as possible, as a delay in doing so could result in increased charges for which you may be liable.


Costs for study abroad vary program to program and are in addition to the tuition for Winter Term (included in fall semester tuition/bill). 

Basic cost information is available on the Cost and Credit Chart.

Detailed cost information is available on the budget sheet (link at top of page)-coming soon!

Scholarships/Travel Grants

Students seeking need-based financial support are encouraged to apply for the GEC Access Scholarship.

For additional information on scholarships or other funding for study abroad, see the Financial Planning for Global Study page.

The Alliance for Global Education has several need-based scholarships.

If you qualify for a travel grant through any of the fellows or scholars programs, see the appropriate program director for more information on how to apply the grant to your study abroad program. Visit the Deadlines and Events Calendar for travel grant deadlines.

Additional Links

Read blog posts from students on this program in years past and access blogs for Faculty-led programs on the Study Abroad Blog.

Global Ambassadors are GEC student representatives that have participated in one or more study abroad programs and have been trained to speak about their experiences. You can be in touch with current Global Ambassadors via email--they are looking forward to hearing from you!

Want to know more? Connect with the GEC, alumni, and prospective students on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And keep in touch with us using #ElonGlobal!

For More Information

Program Leader 1: Amy Allocco
Department of Religious Studies
CB 2340, Spence Pavilion 209

Program Leader 2: Brian Pennington
Director and Professor of Religious Studies
CB 2960, Numen Lumen Pavilion 205

Isabella Cannon Global Education Center (GEC)
CB 2375, Global Commons 360
Elon, NC 27244
336.278.6700 (phone)
336.278.6692 (fax)

India 2 India Identities 2

This course in a very intensive, in depth experience of "real" India.
     — Nicole Bleiler, Winter 2013
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter 2017 09/01/2016
Rolling Admission 01/04/2017 01/24/2017
NOTE: Below are the application and cancellation deadlines.
  • March 1: Priority period begins for all programs.
  • 11:59 PM, March 17: Priority deadline. All applications received during priority period are reviewed for eligibility and merit rather than time of submission.
  • March 29: Notification begins. The GEC will send notification via email for all applications completed by priority deadline.
  • March 29: Change period begins. Students that applied during the priority period can switch into available programs by completing the Change Form questionnaire.
  • March 31: Rolling period begins. New applications will be reviewed on a space-available basis.
  • 11:59 PM, Sept. 1: Final deadline for all programs.
  • Sept. 1 - 15: Students that cancel within these dates will not have the deposit refunded.
  • Sept. 15: Full payment deadline.
  • Sept. 16 - 30: Students that cancel between these dates are responsible for 50 percent of the cost of the program.
  • Oct. 1 - 13: Students that cancel between these dates are responsible for 75 percent of the cost of the program.
  • Oct. 14: Students that cancel on or after this date are responsible for the full program cost.

See the Deadlines and Cancellation Policy page for more information.

The start date is the date students are expected to meet at the U.S. departure airport. The end date is the date students will meet back at that same airport.

These dates reflect the best information available to the GEC but are subject to change. Please do not purchase domestic flight tickets based on the dates listed here. Individual programs will provide additional information in the fall preceding the course.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applications will be reviewed on a space-available basis and applicants will be notified of their application status within two weeks of submission.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications.