A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

East Meets West: Program Overview

A Clash of Cultures

East Meets West is a dynamic curriculum for first-year students that traces the development of Western culture from antiquity through the twenty-first century, focusing on the West's relationship with eastern Europe and the Middle East. Students take as a case study the Balkan peninsula, which Samuel Huntington calls a "fault line of civilizations". As the twenty-first century unfolds, we have been forced by its tragic events to ask how East and West have grown so far apart politically, economically, culturally, and religiously, and how people from different civilizations might still understand one another.

A Challenging Curriculum

We have created a curriculum tracing the roots of our cultural and religious differences from their classical origins through early Christianity, the emergence of Islam, the Crusading era, the rise of the Ottoman Empire and then of Western dominance, the catastrophes of the twentieth century, and the violent confrontations of the twenty-first. Students learn the context of today's headlines and are equipped to understand and engage the contemporary world.

East Meets West is presented during the second semester and Mayterm of a student's first year. During the semester, the group studies right in Houghton, completing the bulk of their work; during Mayterm the class shifts to the eastern Mediterranean, where the themes of the course are reiterated and further explored in Venice, Split, Dubrovnik, Zagreb, and other key sites of East-West interaction.

Expert Educators

East Meets West features a team of expert and experienced faculty. Prof. Meic Pearse, East Meets West's founder and director, holds a D.Phil. in ecclesiastical history from Oxford University. Prof. Pearse has extensive experience in eastern Europe, serving since 1995 as an adjunct professor of church history at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia. He is best known for his accessible and incisive works of cultural history and analysis, Why the Rest Hates the West and The Gods of War. Collaborating with Prof. Pearse are Prof. Peter Meilaender, a political theorist whose work focuses especially on questions of immigration and citizenship, and Prof. Stephen Woolsey, a scholar of American and European literature who has cultivated a particular expertise in Balkans literature. Prof. Pearse leads the Mayterm trip through the Balkans, where his close knowledge of the region and his extensive network of contacts in key Christian ministries create a rich educational experience.