Religion department sponsors trip to Holy Land

Photo courtesy of MCT

For nine days, one professor is seeking to bring the best-selling book of all time to life.

In May, associate professor of religion and philosophy James F. McGrath will lead a group of seven students to the Holy Land, Israel and Palestine to experience the birthplace of some of the world’s largest and most influential religious traditions.

“I wanted to give students the opportunity to travel and see this part of the world,” McGrath said.  “[There] are so many important sites and structures mentioned in the Bible that can be visited and explored.”

The $3,650 cost includes many aspects of the trip as well as three hours of academic credit.

Katie Cooprider, a sophomore major in theater and anthropology, is one of the seven currently enrolled in the trip.

“I find the Middle East fascinating,” Cooprider said.  “It’s a very dynamic place in the world right now.”

In addition to bringing the stories of the Bible to life, McGrath said that visiting this area of the world is significant today, since the realities on the ground cannot be adequately grasped from a distance.

“Today, conflicts over possession of land and matters of statehood continue to drive conflict not only in this small region itself but also in the wider Middle East and around the world,” McGrath said.

Cooprider said she has the same reservations that others may have about traveling abroad, but it is not enough to keep her home.
“It’s a completely different territory,” Cooprider said.

McGrath said that there have been reservations about the safety of traveling to these countries, but he assures there is no need to be concerned.

“If there is one thing that both sides agree on, it is that it is vital to avoid anything bad happening to tourists,” McGrath said.

The livelihood of everyone in the region depends on tourism, and McGrath said that visitors from the United States can expect warm hospitality.

“I’m excited for the big religious sites,” Cooprider said.  “I want to see why people seem to be so deeply connected to these places.”

That being said, safety remains important.  McGrath said they will be traveling with EF Educational Tours, which has extensive experience in trips to Israel.

“It is not like a few of us are going on our own to fend for ourselves as best as we can,” McGrath said.

For more information, visit to learn more and enroll.  The deadline is today, but late enrollment is available.


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