Southern Semester

Study the South in the South

Macon CampusMercer University in Macon, Georgia, offers a unique opportunity to learn about and to experience the people, history, and culture of the U.S. South. Students from American and international universities may apply  to spend a semester at Mercer taking classes with scholars of the South, living in the South, and earning college credit.

Southern semester students take four courses in different disciplines related to the South. The courses build connections among the region’s literature, culture, history, and politics, so students gain an understanding of how the region developed over time, how racism developed as a social problem, and how the South generated a distinct culture.

Southern semester students also explore parts of the South related to their courses, meet with visiting scholars and learn about their research, and enjoy the experience of a liberal arts college in a historic and vibrant southern city.

Mercer University is consistently ranked as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the South. Classes at Mercer are small, usually less than eighteen students, so all students receive direct attention from their professors. Students have a strong sense of community, and Mercer is noted for its students’ engagement with community service. The campus, near downtown Macon, features historic buildings, state of the art student amenities, and beautiful green spaces. 

Mercer offers a unique, interdisciplinary program in southern studies that focuses exclusively on undergraduate students. Southern studies students learn about the history, culture, literature, geography, economics, and politics of America’s most complex and most fascinating region. The program offers a bachelor’s degree in southern studies. It also hosts the Lamar Lectures, the most prestigious series of lectures on southern history and culture, it awards the Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Writing each year to an author who has made significant contributions to southern literature, and it holds lectures and films that are open to Mercer students.

Macon, Georgia, is a city of more than 150,000 in central Georgia, about ninety minutes south of Atlanta. Famous as the home of southern rock music, the city has the charm of a small town and the amenities of a larger city. Macon’s history is a microcosm of the South. Once the site of a large Native American city, Macon grew as a trading center for cotton plantations in central Georgia during the nineteenth century and was a center of textile production in the twentieth century. Now, Macon has a diversified economy, exciting nightlife, and a comfortable pace of life.

Apply for Southern Semester

To apply for southern semester, international students from Mercer University partner institutions should contact Nicole H. Baker, International Student Advisor & Scholar Services Coordinator. Requirements to apply as an Exchange Student and the cost of attendance can be found on the online application portal. Note: Students attending universities with reciprocal exchange agreements with Mercer use their home institution rates for tuition.

Partner Institutions

  • Al Akhawayn University, Morocco
  • Hong Kong Baptist University, China
  • Karlsruhe University, Germany
  • Linnaeus University, Sweden
  • Seinan Gakuin University, Japan
  • University of Bamberg, Germany
  • University of Chichester, England
  • University of Essex, England
  • University of Seoul, South Korea
  • University of Strasbourg (Ecole de Management), France
  • Univesity of Sussex, England
  • University of Western Scotland, Scotland
  • Yonsei University, South Korea

For all other international applicants that do not currently attend one of Mercer University’s partner institutions, please contact Megan Roberson, Assistant Director of Admissions and International Recruitment.

Fall 2016 Application deadline: March 1, 2016

Fall 2016 Courses

AFR/ENG 360: African American Literature since 1965, Chester Fontenot

A chronological study of the development of African American literature since 1965. The course attempts to place African American literature in the context of world and American literature by examining prevalent themes and traditions as presented in fiction, poetry, and drama.

ENG/SST 380: Southern Foodways, David A. Davis

This course  will examine the origins and practice of southern foodways from a critical  perspective. We will study the region’s culinary history, the important role of  poverty and climate in developing southern food, the relationship between food  and race/class/gender dynamics, food as a sign of regional identity, and the cultural representation of southern  food. We will  discuss scholarship about regional foodways, cookbooks, novels, and movies. We  will interview foodways practitioners, engage in a community service project,  host a final exam barbecue, and develop an understanding of southern food as a  social text.      

HIS 361: The Old South, Sarah Gardner

This course will  examine the South's place in the colonial Atlantic world, the rise of plantation-based economy, slavery and the development of American capitalism, trajectories of southern modes of thought, and the rise of sectionalism in the late antebellum era. Throughout the course, we will interrogate long-standing assumptions about southern exceptionalism.

SST 380: Southern Religious History, Doug Thompson

This course will review the contours of religious experience in the American South. From Native American religious experience in the southeast to the cultural dominance of Protestantism in the 20th century to the emergence of non-Christian religions, we will explore the variety of religious outlooks that have come to define the South as a religious place. This course examines how people came to understand themselves and their place in the world given their southern context —agriculture, slavery, poverty, industrial growth. The objective of the course is to gain new perspectives on the breadth of religion in the South and create space for critically analyzing what we mean when we say southern religion.