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Online Learning

Course Number: STD 630
Course Title: Spanish Mysticism in the Context of Spanish History and Culture
Term: Summer 2014


Dr. Kristina R. Olsen


Fr. Randy Soto, SThD



This course will explore Spanish Mysticism in the lives and writings of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross. Students will spend the first part of the course reading and preparing for four weeks' study in Avila, Spain, where they will develop an appreciation for the cultural context of Spanish mysticism through excursions to key historic, cultural and religious sites. A final photo-journalism project will sythesize readings, experiences, travel and insights gained.


  1. Students will become familiar with 16th-century Spanish mysticism as demonstrated in the lives and writings of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross.
  2. Students will gain an understanding of Carmelite spirituality as practiced by Teresa and John.
  3. Students will read and study selections from the writings of Teresa and John.
  4. Students will travel to Spain and gain an appreciation for the cultural setting of Carmelite spirituality and its history and development.
  5. Students will synthesize their experiences in Spain, including excursions to major sites in and around Avila, with their readings of the writings of Teresa and John, through the construction of a final project.


  1. Students will read selections from the writings of Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross before traveling to Spain, as specified in the weekly online lessons. Additional online activities, videos, discussion boards, etc., are required as assigned.
  2. Additional readings include introductory materials, especially those by Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh (see required readings). These writings set the context for Spanish history and culture and will prepare students for developing an appreciation of what they will be seeing in Spain. (First two items listed here: 40% of grade).
  3. The students are responsible for attending classes and excursions, and the immersion into the Spanish Culture during the month of July in Ávila, Spain (30% of grade).
  4. The students will submit a final photo-journalism project (7-8 pages, in Word) on the life and writings of either St. Teresa, or St. John, or both (equally divided), following their return from Spain. This project should consist of approximately 2/3 photos and 1/3 text. Text must include relevant quotes from the readings and be properly footnoted. The project should also include students' reflections on their spiritual, cultural and historical impressions of their experiences in Spain. The purpose of this assignment is to integrate what they learned from their readings with their experiences and reflections during their travel in and around Avila. (30% of grade).


Dr. Olsen: Part One of the Course

On-Line (May 5-June 27th, 2014)

Dr. Olsen manages the activities and assigments for this section of the course, and she assigns the grade for this portion (40% of course).

Week 1

  • Introduction and Historical Setting - Avila and Spain in the 16th Century: Religious reform, socio-economic forces, global expansion.
  • Read introductions to writings of Teresa and John.
  • Do online activities, discussion boards, etc., as assigned for Weeks 1-8.

Week 2

  •  Introduction to Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross - Their lives, their writings and the

Carmelite Order

Week 3

  • Teresa of Jesus: Select readings from Life, Way of Perfection.

Week 4

  •  Teresa of Jesus: Select readings from Interior Castle and other works.

Week 5

  • Teresa of Jesus: Themes and synthesis.

Week 6

  • John of the Cross: Select readings from Ascent of Mt. Carmel.

Week 7

  • John of the Cross: Select readings from Dark Night and other works.

Week 8

  • John of the Cross: Themes and synthesis. 

Fr. Soto: Part Two of the Course

Excursions and Lectures (June 30th- July 25th, 2014)

Fr. Soto manages the activities and assigments for this section of the course, and he assigns the grade for

this portion (30% of course).

Week 9

  • Avila: Excursions and lectures.
  • Activities and assignments as required for Weeks 9-12.

Week 10

  • Avila: Excursions and lectures.

Week 11

  • Avila: Excursions and lectures.

Week 12

  • Avila: Excursions and lectures.

Dr. Olsen: Part Three of the Course:

On-Line (July 28th-August 15th, 2014)

Dr. Olsen manages the activities and assigments for this section of the course, and she assigns the grade for this portion (30% of course).

Week 13

  • Online activities to synthesize experiences in Spain with readings of Teresa and John.
  • Discussions on historical context of Spanish mysticism.
  • Preparation for final project.
  • Online activities as assigned in Weeks 13-15.

Week 14

  • Continued online discussion and synthesis.
  • Preparation of final project.

Week 15

  • Final photo-journalism project due.


Note: You may use other editions of these works, but you will need Kavanaugh's introduction in John of the Cross (Collected Works) and his introduction in Interior Castle (last item - Classics of Western Spirituality - this introduction will be posted in Populi, however the one from John of the Cross you will need to get).

The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross translated by Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. $16.47

Teresa of Avila, The Book of Her Life translated by Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, $13.30.

Teresa of Avila, Way of Perfection Study Edition, translated by Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, prepared by Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., $18.95.

Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle Study Edition, , translated by Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, prepared by Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., $22.64.

Kavanaugh, Kieran, O.C.D. “Introduction.” In The Interior Castle, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D., 1-29. New York: Paulist Press, 1979. (This is from the Classics of Western Spirituality series by Paulist Press.) ISBN: 0809122545, $18.11. (Also posted on Populi, with permission.)


(Basis of evaluation with explanation regarding the nature of the assignment and the percentage of the grade assigned to each item below). Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at


A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 D 60-69; F 59 and below


Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.


Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.


Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.


An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.


Fr. Randy Soto is a Roman Catholic priest from San Jose, Costa Rica, currently serving as Associate Professor of New Testament at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He completed his Sacred Theology Doctorate (SThD) in Biblical Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2003 and has also since served as a parish pastor and Director of Faith Enculturation in the Archdiocese of San Jose, Professor of New Testament at the Instituto Ciencias Religiosas while in Toledo.


Dr. Kristina R. Olsen holds a Ph.D. in Spirituality from Catholic University of America, an M.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and Master’s Degrees in Business (MBA, U. of Montana) and Computer Science (Northwestern University). She also has a B.A. in Music (Classical Guitar).

Dr. Olsen designed telecommunications systems for Bell Laboratories (AT&T/Lucent) for over 15 years, working in all phases of the engineering and development processes. Prior to that she taught music and performed as a classical guitarist.  She is currently the Coordinator of Research Systems for Sacred Story Institute in Seattle, Washington.


(860) 632-3010