Popular education and pedagogy in everyday life: The nature of educational travel in the Americas

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Sari Knopp Biklen



Subject Categories

Educational Sociology


This dissertation is a qualitative study of educational travel. I focus on the travel organizations and publishing agencies that market and sell educational travel and the travelers themselves who desire to travel for learning purposes. The dissertation is also partly historical. The focus is on travel in the Americas; primarily U.S. travel to countries in Central and South America. There is also a chapter about a 19th-century trip to Canada.

There are four data chapters in the dissertation. The first data chapter is historical. I examine educational travel as it developed since the Grand Tours of the 17th century. In the next chapter, I analyze tour brochures distributed by travel organizations that sponsor educational tours to Latin America. Following is a chapter based on interviews conducted with individuals who had gone on various types of educational tours to Latin America. In the final data chapter, I examine 19th-century travel diaries as a means of studying how individuals constructed educational travel experiences at a time of rapid growth in tourism.

With this dissertation, I enter into the growing literature in the field of education that attempts to see education as a popular activity. I study education in connection to movement, popular culture, advertising, and the wants of individuals who search out information and knowledge in common places. In this way, I view education as a means through which people learn in everyday life. I attempt to make sense of education as it increasingly becomes enmeshed with activities traditionally deemed entertainment or leisurely--such as travel. Here, education is viewed and taken seriously as a popular activity that accounts for people's everyday understandings of the world.


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