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Ireland and America: a Cross-Cultural Exploration of Identity


Limerick, Ireland

Program Description

Students enrolled in this course will explore psychological perspectives on the development of identity in a cross-cultural context. While in Ireland, students will be introduced to Irish history and culture, through classes, tours and attendance at cultural events. They will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with Irish students and to explore with them questions of the impact of culture on identity. We will visit two major Irish cities in the Republic of Ireland, Limerick and Dublin, and will also visit a small Irish town and a rural location. We will also visit the city of Derry in Northern Ireland. Diversity in the development of identity will be emphasized through facilitated sessions with representatives of different groups in Irish society, e.g., Irish Travellers, and also through reflection on the range of contexts and individuals that are encountered during the trip. The experience of another culture will be used as an impetus for students to reflect on their own identity in the context of the theories that we will examine. Through our observations of Irish culture and interaction with Irish young people we will explore what is unique about Irish and American identities, while also considering those aspects of identity that are shared and globalized. Students will spend most of their course time in Ireland with some orientation sessions at JMU in the semester prior to departure.

Location Description

The island of Ireland comprises the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland, which is in the northeastern part of the island is part of the United Kingdom. Most of our trip will be spent in the Republic of Ireland. We will visit two major Irish cities in the Republic of Ireland, Limerick and Dublin, and will also visit a small Irish town and a rural location. We will make a short visit to Northern Ireland to the city of Derry, an ancient walled city with a great deal of historical significance. The main location for the course will be Limerick city which is a city of approximately 60,000 people in the mid-west of Ireland, close to the Atlantic coast. Participants will get an opportunity to see the rural and urban contexts of Irish life. Ireland is a small country and so it is relatively easy to see a variety of settings over the course of the three week stay. Ireland is a beautiful, green country with a rich cultural history. The climate is very temperate and the weather is not extreme, although it is likely to rain at any time - hence the nickname 'the emerald isle'. Participants can expect to experience a great deal of history in a beautiful natural setting.


Claire Lyons | | Psychology


Most accommodation will be in college residences although some low-budget hostel and hotel accommodation will be required. All meals will be covered in the program fee.

Additional Items to Consider

For PSYC 200, the prerequisite is GPSYC 101 or GPSYC 160. For PSYC 400, the prerequisite is at least one Social Science course and one Natural Sciences course.

This program is targeted towards sophomores through seniors.

Visas are not required for short visits to the Republic of Ireland or to Northern Ireland. The currency of the Republic of Ireland is the Euro. Since Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the currency of Northern Ireland is the British Pound (British Sterling). There are no required immunizations.

It is possible to get international roaming on U.S. cell phones for Ireland, although it is costly. Otherwise cell phones can be acquired there. Wifi should be available at most locations.

Travel within Ireland will be by bus and train. There will be no air travel within Ireland. We will make a daytrip to Inis Oirr (an island off the course of Ireland). To get there we need to take a boat trip of approximately 1 hour.

This program is best suited to students in the social sciences, media or politics, although any students with an interest in identity could benefit.

Application Process

For this program, students are required to submit the following material(s):

  • JMU Short-Term Application Form

  • A supplemental essay (max 200 words) addressing the following questions:
    • Why do you want to study abroad?
    • Why do you want to engage in the study of identity?
    • Why do you want to take your study abroad in Ireland?
  • Attend an interview with the program directors prior to the application deadline: Claire Lyons | | Psychology 

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0.

For more detailed instructions and to download the application, please click on the following link to the Applications and Forms section for JMU Short-Term Programs.

Official transcript required for first-semester transfer students and non-JMU students.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


PSYC 200: Topics in Psychology: Ireland and America - A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Identity (3 credits)

PSYC 400: Advanced Topics in Psychology: Ireland and America - A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Identity (3 credits)