In the end, Palomares opted for London. And even though he covers much of the same material there as he does in his popular “Gender Differences in Communication” course on campus, the location makes a world of difference.
In visits to the British Museum, the National Gallery, Hampton Court Palace, the Science Museum and other destinations, students get a visual survey of views of sex, sexuality, gender roles and power dynamics throughout history and across a variety of cultures.
An ancient Greek vase at the British Museum became a lesson in cultural mores and censorship. Adorned with images of naked men, the vase was hidden from public view until the latter part of the 20th century.
A Roman child’s ring with a phallus to ward off evil spirits illustrated wide-ranging and symbolic views of the body. Historic paintings depicted a timeline of gender politics from the relative positions of men and women and the clothing of boys and girls that they portrayed.
An independent study course also gives students the chance to research contemporary issues of their own choosing—among them, gender in advertisements, women’s views of taking their husband’s name, and a comparison of prices offered in local markets to male and female barterers.
For Palomares, the study abroad programs combine parallel passions — his love of learning and teaching with travel.
An expert on goal pursuit and understanding in conversation as well as gender differences in communication, he joined the UC Davis faculty in fall 2004.
His world travels have taken him to Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Canada, South Korea, China, Morocco and Singapore.
He has offered the Summer Abroad program in London three times — in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Up to 32 students participate each time. Roughly half are communication majors, with the others from a wide array of other studies.
Palomares said a big plus for him in teaching the summer program is the close interaction with students. With a 10-week course condensed into four weeks, they spend two to three hours each weekday in class, plus travel together to the museum and other excursions.
“It’s a very different teaching experience,” he said. “It’s really rewarding to get to know the students a little more. It’s fun. Teaching in general can be fun, but this is a different kind of fun. Very enjoyable.”