Sandy L. Caron, PhD, has recently returned from abroad, where she offered a course through the University of Maine entitled Human Sexuality in Europe. Caron traveled with a dozen undergraduate students from London to Amsterdam to Stockholm. She previously offered a similar study course through Syracuse University from 1996-2005.
This three-week travel study program provides students with a broad international perspective on approaches to human sexuality by allowing them to learn firsthand how other cultures are dealing with various sexuality issues. Over the course of these three weeks, Caron and her students met with professionals in three nations and took a comparative look at how these countries deal with issues such as teen pregnancy, contraception, abortion, sexuality education, and policies related to LGBT issues, STIs/HIV, and sex workers. Through special lectures, field trips, and on-site briefings, students had a chance to increase their knowledge in the field of human sexuality, to question assumptions about culture and sexuality, and to learn from other societies, which have adopted different solutions to similar concerns.
They began in London, selected as the starting place because it is the headquarters of the Family Planning Association of the United Kingdom, as well as the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The Netherlands came next, offering a chance for students to learn how a "liberal" and morally tolerant society deals with sexuality issues. They wrapped things up in Sweden, a country famous for its progressive approach to sexuality.
While there, students saw the distinct cultural and religious differences that affect this country's approach to human sexuality.
Similarly, Betsy Crane, PhD ran her own program in Amsterdam, as part of Widener University's Center for Human Sexuality Studies. In late May, 30 students, four faculty members, and three others made academic site visits to the University of Amsterdam Medical Center (for reciprocal presentations on sex research), the Gender Clinic at Vrije Universiteit (for a presentation on transgender issues), a Psychiatry Museum in Haarlem (for a presentation on mental health care in the Netherlands), and the Prostitute Information Center which included a tour of the Red Light district).
It's heartening to see that the opportunity to explore human sexuality in other cultures continues to be made available in sexology-based curricula.