History, Literature and the Arts

Curricular Global Learning

Study Shakespeare, classical archeology, immigration, or tour with the music department on a cultural exchange and performance program.

A group of students posed in front of classical ruins

The Classical Languages Department at Phillips Exeter Academy is committed to exposing our students to classical archaeology. To really engage with the ancient past, students need to get their hands dirty. The Gabii Project promises to do just that. The international archaeological initiative under the direction of Dr. Nicola Terrenato of the University of Michigan provides a unique opportunity to study the development and structure of cities in Central Italy, both monumental and civic architecture as well as domestic space, and help answer a wide range of other questions buried in the past. Exeter students will work on-site, be trained in the basics of excavation alongside other volunteers, and live together with the chaperones in a VRBO. Summer break: Mid-June to mid-July.

mountains with a rocky forefront

Graduating seniors can apply for a travel grant to fund their participation in the Mount Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project  http://lykaionexcavation.org/ for six weeks, led by Prof. David Gilman Romano of the University of Arizona. Situated in a stunningly beautiful region of Arcadia, Mount Lykaion marks the site of a major Zeus sanctuary built on top of the supposed birthplace of the chief Greek deity. Joining a team of 50, students are involved in all aspects of the dig, whether in a trench, on the survey team, in the lab, or on the computer. The project is run as a field school, so students receive instruction and participate in meetings, seminars, lectures, and field trips to archaeological sites and museums. Summer break: Mid-June through July.

The Globe Theatre

This program, unique to Exeter, is centered in Warwickshire near Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare. Students and the resident director live in cottages at Furzen Hill Farm. While on the program, students have the opportunity to live and study in a foreign culture; read plays and see them performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Globe in London, and other venues; study eras of British history; and to travel to important sites related to the curriculum. Warwickshire is only 90 miles northwest of London, and the cities of Birmingham, Oxford, Bristol and Bath are just a day trip away. Open to seniors.

Fall term: September through November.

Washington D.C.
Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

The Music Department, in collaboration with touring partner Augustine Noble Limited, takes the takes the Concert Choir and Chamber Orchestra on tour every other year to domestic and international locations that have included Washington, DC, London, and Vietnam. In the spring of 2023, the group will travel to Puerto Rico. These programs feature formal concerts and workshops. In addition to musical enrichment, students have opportunities for cultural exchange and service to the communities visited throughout the week. Spring break.

New Orleans
Musicians playing at night on a street in New Orleans

Blues and jazz are touted as America’s original art form, yet their dark origins are often overlooked. In our weeklong program titled “Black and Blues: Jazz and the Politics of Forgetting,” we travel south through the Delta of the Mississippi River to learn about the history of these musical genres, focusing on their complicated musical past rooted in slavery and segregation. PEA has partnered with Envoys for this educational travel program. Thanksgiving break.


Established after Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson’s inspirational assembly in 2015, Exeter’s trip to Montgomery, Alabama, provides an opportunity for our students to step into close proximity with instances of racial, judicial and economic injustice. The trip’s focus is on American history as it frames our current events and the social justice implications for our future. Attendees soak up Southern culture while exploring the history of Alabama, visiting sites associated with slave trade and the Civil Rights movement, examining the theory that slavery still exists today in the form of mass incarceration, thinking critically about the justice system, and collaborating on ways in which they can be involved in the sharing of knowledge and ideas. Thanksgiving break.


This program is an unforgettable opportunity to explore areas that few tourists visit and to see and experience aspects of contemporary Indian life that, in many ways, have not changed for over 2000 years.  India is very diverse in culture, language and environment.  India’s cities stand in large contrast to her villages and have their own interesting (if seemingly chaotic) lifestyle.  Varanasi and Sarnath are both significant pilgrimage sites.  In these places we get a closer view of how modern and traditional India co-exist. The journey will include sharing of the day in the evening using the Harkness format, journaling and also mindfulness-based practice including sitting, walking and eating meditation and self-reflection. Students will learn from scholars and leading experts in fields such as education, development, history, economics and religion.