A study abroad experience in the classroom

USC Aiken students create digital mapping project of Spain to expand on the country's culture

Some students at the University of South Carolina Aiken are finding ways for their peers to experience the world abroad while staying in the classroom. Dr. Ángel M. Rañales, Assistant Professor of Spanish, made it possible by creating a cultural project called, "Mapping Contemporary Spain" in his SPAN 319 Peninsular Cultures and Civilizations course during the 2023 spring semester.

The project is an interactive visual map exploring major objects and artifacts from numerous cultures around Spain. The students were tasked with designing and constructing the mapping tool for people to navigate the marvelous cultures of the peninsula.

Maggie Knotts, a Spanish major with a minor in Anthropology, says she and her peers had to help research and assemble small summaries of different tourist attractions or interesting places to visit in Spain. "When we decided to do this project, we wanted to create an interactive map to help those, not in our class, understand the impact of the cultures and civilizations throughout the history of the Iberian Peninsula, helping to change the stereotypical view of what Spanish culture is," she explained.

"Having a course like this under your belt creates so much confidence in one's abilities and gives a deeper understanding to someone traveling abroad," said Olivia Robertson, a Spanish Translation and Interpretation major. "Most importantly I learned how imperative it is to look outside of what I know and am comfortable with and to learn about new places, cultures, and people."

The SPAN 319 Peninsular Cultures and Civilizations course is normally taught once every two years. Dr. Rañales said there are plans to continue implementing such projects in his upper-level courses to make studying cultures and the humanities more accessible to the general public. "Mapping Contemporary Spain" is now published as an Open Educational Resource under Scholar Commons and Open Education Network.

Click here to take a look at the full project. 

For more information, contact Angela Saxon, Angela.saxon@usca.edu