For the first time, Pacific Lutheran University will offer students the chance to study away for a semester in our back yard. Tacoma Immersion Experience Semester (TIES) will give six students the opportunity to live in a house in Hilltop, Tacoma.

“It’s really a chance for students to experience everything the city has,” PLU Associate Professor of Art and Design and T.I.E.S. Program Director, JP Avila said. “There are so many cultures and people from around the world in this area, it’s a great learning opportunity.”

The students are expected to live, study and learn in urban Tacoma and experience the city’s culture. In this inaugural year, six students will be selected from all applicants to live in Tacoma for the Spring 2016 semester. Deadlines are still open, and don’t close until Nov. 1.

One of the biggest draws this program offers is that students don’t need to worry about paperwork or travel expense. For undocumented students, TIES will allow them to study away without needing to get a visa. For students in a money pinch, TIES won’t require airfare or travel costs beyond getting to downtown Tacoma.


The 16-credit program includes the following courses:

  • Religion 393, “Topics in Comparative Religion: Buddhism and Asian Immigration in Tacoma,” taught by Assistant Professor of Religion Erik Hammerstrom, examines how the intersection of race and Buddhism Affect the Puget Sound community;
  • Sociology 387, “Case Study: Tacoma, A Critique of Education in the U.S.,” taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Galen Ciscell, puts the American education system under a critical lens, especially “educational inequalities and opportunities” in Tacoma;
  • Global Studies 387, “Indigenous Tacoma and the Pedagogy of Place,” taught by Associate Professor of Norwegian and Scandinavian Studies Troy Storfjell, explores the history and present of Tacoma as an indigenous place.
  • Global Studies 301, “Tacoma: The Power of Place and Identity,” taught by Associate Professor of Art & Design Jp Avila, which explore the cultural intersections, identities and issues that define the city.

Keep tabs on the TIES program, this is only the inaugural program. There’s already talk of expansion and how TIES can grow in the coming years.
The T.I.E.S program will be accepting applications until Nov. 1.  For more information visit or contact Tanya Ulsted at the Wang Center, Program Coordinator Rachel Haxtema or Program Director JP Avila.

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