Study Tour – Boston & Washington D.C.

BOSTON (3 nights)

Our visit to Boston will bring Institute participants out of America’s agricultural heartland and into one of America’s most historic cities. Boston and the New England region are important locations for understanding the origins of American pluralism, free speech, and entrepreneurial initiative. In tours of the rich cultural and historical sites, participants will develop a more nuanced understanding of the foundational theme of the Institute—the American National Character. 

Boston was a central location of the American Revolution and participants will take a guided walking tour of the numerous historic locations along the Freedom Trail.  The tour will provide situational context for understanding the spirit of open discourse that led to Boston’s central role in the American Revolution, and shaped our continuing American culture of debate and protest. Participants will have guided tours of Paul Revere’s home and workshop, Faneuil Hall, and the Old North Church.

Additionally the group will visit the textile mills of Lowell National Historic Park where a ranger led tour will examine the ways New England women and men pursued economic opportunity at a time when America was changing from an agrarian to an industrialized nation of major urban centers. Participants will take a boat ride to examine the levy system used to harness the power of the water that ran the mill. From Boston the group will fly to Washington D.C.


WASHINGTON D.C. (3 nights)

In Washington D.C. participants will continue to explore ideas of Federalism, public and private enterprise, individualism, liberty and the singular nature of the American executive office that were introduced in the first sub-theme of the Institute, and elaborated upon in Boston. Program staff will give a tour of selected monuments in the National Mall, a visit to the U.S. Department of Education, and a meeting with staff of Illinois Senior Senator, Dick Durban. We will discuss the workings of the world’s most “deliberative body,” its origins in colonial legislatures and the principle of shared powers. We will also explore the cult of personality and individualistic quality of the executive office and consider the idea represented in the American Dream that one person’s drive, ambition, and determination can change the fate of a nation. Finally we will include the study tour with a debriefing at the U.S. Department of State.


Study Tour- San Francisco, California

 SAN FRANCISCO (4 nights)

A trip to San Francisco and the Bay area is the capstone study tour, incorporating the ideas and analysis of the four main sub-themes addressed in the Institute. Northern California, and specifically the Bay Area are simultaneously a bustling modern American metropolis, a historic frontier town, a center of immigration, a hub of environmental and political activism, and a leader in progressive movements for gender and sexual equality. 

We will revisit themes of immigration, acculturation, opportunity and advancement by visiting the Chinese Historical Society of America for a guided tour and lecture by the curator. We will compare the early American “immigrant” story of colonists and community with the very different story of Chinese immigration to America, and San Francisco in particular, referencing the competition for resources and labor of the 19th century. How was the Chinese experience of immigrating to America through Angel Island different from European immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in New York? Today, have Chinese-Americans integrated and changed American society? To what extent have immigrant groups like the Chinese subscribed to, or altered the American Dream?

Revisiting our study of American environmentalism we will visit the centuries old redwood trees preserved at Muir WoodsA leader in social reform, California (and San Francisco in particular) has a long heritage of Protest Movements of the 1960’s. The San Francisco study tour includes a guided walking tour on the history of political activism and social movements in the SF Bay Area and the United States.

Golden Gate Bridge