The University of North Florida Pilgrimage Project combines interdisciplinary approaches with digital and STEM technologies and applies them to the study of pilgrimage. The broad definition pilgrimage employed by the project encompasses the flow of people, ideas, technology and trade along a sacred or spiritual route. This project focuses on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain and grew out of the noteworthy 2015 study abroad trip led by the Department of History and the Department Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work. During the three-week journey, which included walking the final 113km from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, students explored human-environmental interaction as they hiked along this sacred route. Specifically, they interviewed pilgrims and local residents, mapped pilgrim spaces, captured images, and collected GIS data.
As this successful field-work/digital project moves forward, additional phases will include the publication of student-conducted ethnographic interviews in English and Spanish, as well as geospatial projects that examine the spatial dimensions of pilgrimage in the past and present utilizing remote sensing data and GIS techniques. Future initiatives will include: the landscape, art, and architecture, of the Camino as well as the business of pilgrimage with special focus on sustainability of this historically sacred route.
Publication through the Digital Humanities Initiative will contribute to a more thorough and multidisciplinary understanding of the phenomenon of pilgrimage, while allowing students from the various colleges to engage and contribute. At the same time, by participating in the production and dissemination of new knowledge, students will develop valuable research and technological skills essential for academic and career success. This is particularly important in a workplace that values both creativity and technological knowhow.
Ron Lukens-Bull is a Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies at UNF. He has taught courses on pilgrimage during his tenure at UNF. He has published about sacred geography in Southeast Asia and modern Christian pilgrimage in the United States. In addition to the 2015 Camino trip, he has lead groups of UNF students to Morocco, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Having studied Muslim societies for the past 25 years, he is interested in the Muslim art and designs worked into medieval sites along the Camino de Santiago. He is a member of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for the Anthropology of Religion.
David Sheffler is an Associate Professor in the Department of History. His research and teaching focuses on the Middle Ages with special interests in medieval universities, the Crusades, heresy and pilgrimage. In the summer of 2015 he led 15 university students on a three-week pilgrimage along the Spanish Camino de Santiago. He also serves as advisor to UNF’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta — a national history honors society that supports undergraduate and graduate research.
Chris Baynard is Associate Professor in Geography and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in the Department of Economics and Geography. His research and teaching center on geospatial applications to natural resource management at the landscape level. Additionally, he has developed and let study-abroad courses focused on the wine industry in Argentina and Chile, renewable energy and sustainability in Holland, Germany and Spain and is now leading a new course on mining and sustainable business practices in Chile. Professor Baynard also serves as the director for the Center for Sustainable Business Practices for the Cogging College of Business and serves on the Executive Board fof the Environmental Center.
Michael Boyles is a graphic designer at the Center for Instruction and Research Technology at UNF. His interest in Spanish culture and the Camino de Santiago led him to joining the 2015 journey to support the professors and students in their travels while documenting the trip with capturing photos, creating a website, developing the student’s blog, GIS satellite mapping of the six-day hike, and publishing a book of the experiences throughout the excursion. His design credentials cover a multitude of disciplines that incorporate print, environmental design, signage, trade shows, product design, package design, illustration and Web design.