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TOURS de FORCES (pun intended)   provides  travel-to-learn opportunities for Purdue friends and family, while supporting the university’s academic  and  research mission s , and student fellowships and scholarships.   UPDATE: Due to COVID-19,  all tours are being rescheduled. Please check back periodically for updates.

Conceived and organized by FORCES Operations Officer and Outreach Director Rob  Kirchubel , PhD,   TOURS de FORCES enables you to  join us as we visit sites of historical significance, especially touching on the twin, and often intersecting, subjects of military history and technology. Tours will visit locations that are sure to captivate anyone interested in these topics. Led by Purdue faculty, staff, and external subject matter experts of national and international renown, each tour will combine learning and fun, and last from a couple of days to two weeks.   

Specific details will depend on the state of COVID-19 and the locales we intend to visit. Travel, accommodations, meals,  guides,  and fees are covered by the cost of the selected tour.  Specific  information  and  detailed  tour  itineraries will appear as departure dates approach. Most days we will stop at two or three points of interest, with evenings free; longer tours include one or more unstructured days as well.   A critical feature of TOURS de FORCES is that a  part  of the cost will help fund Purdue’s academic and research missions, the work of FORCES, and student fellowships and scholarships.

For more information  see details of current itineraries, below, or  contact  


"Revolutionary Turning Points:" Northeast United States August 1 - 4, 2023
Duration: Seven to eight days, excluding travel to/from Boston
Guides: Purdue Assistant Professor of History T. Cole Jones and Robert Kirchubel, PhD 
Main activities: Visit battlefields, museums and other Revolutionary War sites, hands on experiences, enjoy Boston, Washington, D.C., Williamsburg, and many other east coast locales along the way

The birth of the United States was not easy; the American colonists wanted to set out on their own course, but England did not want to let them go. Relatively untrained, poorly equipped, and unevenly led militias, with some critical French assistance, went up against the professional British military and its German allies. Like many wars, the American Revolution was not a sprint, but a marathon; which side would cross the finish line? Between Ontario and the Carolinas, George Washington and the Yanks lost many battles, but they won the ones they had to. Revolutionary War Monument

TOURS de FORCES will take a week to explore and learn about key turning points during the Revolutionary War. Purdue Assistant Professor Cole Jones, author of "Captives of Liberty: Prisoners of War and the Radicalization of the American Revolution," FORCES’ own Rob Kirchubel, and a selection of outstanding scholars and local guides will untangle the conflict. We will visit Boston and Lexington/Concord, MA; Saratoga and West Point, NY; Trenton, NJ, Philadelphia and Valley Forge, PA and then conclude at Yorktown, VA. Tour includes an unstructured day in Washington, D.C., with an optional excursion to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate.

Boiler Quiz: Although seemingly overshadowed by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, did George Washington really earn the honor “father of his country?”

"America – and Purdue – in Space:" Florida’s Space Coast: Dates: TBD
Duration: Two days, excluding travel to/from Florida
Guides: Rob Kirchubel, PhD, and PhD candidates Geoffrey Andrews and Justin Mansell
Main activities: Classroom lecture/discussion, visit exhibits, hands-on experiences, stargazing, enjoy coastal Florida

Leaving earth, humans going to the moon and beyond, is a massive accomplishment. Both Purdue and Florida’s Cape Canaveral area played critical roles in these efforts. Grabbing the headlines: 25 Boilermaker astronauts span the Mercury capsule through the Space Shuttle programs, led, of course, by Neil Armstrong. Countless other Purdue graduates have labored—and still labor—behind the scenes to make it all possible.  Florida's Cape Canaveral

With dates to be determined, TOURS de FORCES will spend two days examining America’s history-making and world-leading space program. FORCES’ Rob Kirchubel and experts from Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, local guides, and at least one Purdue astronaut will take guests to the Kennedy Space Center, the historic Apollo and Space Shuttle Complexes. Also scheduled: nighttime stargazing at the University of Central Florida’s nearby Robinson Observatory. Evenings can include stops at astronaut “watering holes,” and gentle sea breezes.

Boiler Quiz: What brought together West Lafayette and Cape Canaveral?


"Machines of War:" Britain and France  CHECK BACK FOR NEW DATES
Duration: Two weeks, excluding travel to/from London
Guides: Purdue Distinguished Professor of History Randy Roberts and Robert Kirchubel, PhD
Main activities: Visit battlefields, museums and other world war sites, hands on experiences, ride ferry across the English Channel, enjoy London, Paris, and other British and French locales 

During the 20th century, the two world wars were “total wars,” consuming almost all of a nation’s resources. When WWI began in 1914, airplanes were primitive, by 1918 they were highly specialized, by 1945 they flew in the jet stream and dropped atomic bombs. Developments in armored vehicles, code breaking, fortifications, landing craft, radar, warships, and countless other technologies kept pace. Second only the human element, the machinery of war made the difference. Normandy cemeteries

During this two-week trip to Europe, TOURS de FORCES will visit southern UK and northern France. Among other sites, guests will see a Battle of Britain RAF airfield, D-Day landing areas, a Maginot Line Fort, and scene of the Blitzkrieg’s greatest success. Enjoy a nighttime ferry ride from Portsmouth, England and wake up in Caen, France. Take optional trips to the Imperial War Museum and Musee de l’Armee, or instead explore London and Paris on unstructured days. Leading the tour: Purdue Distinguished Professor Randy Roberts, an award-winning author and historian who is renowned for his teaching and mentoring, and WWII scholar Rob Kirchubel from FORCES, joined by a cast of local experts. 

Boiler Quiz: During this tour, how many “revolutions” in military affairs can you spot, where in a certain technology, one side has the upper hand, then the other side, then back to the first…?


"America Threatened as Never before…or Since:" Greater Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA, CHECK BACK FOR NEW DATES
Duration: Seven to eight days, excluding travel to/from Washington, D.C
Guides: Robert Kirchubel, PhD; Penn State History Professor Carol Reardon;  American Historian A. Wilson Greene; and Robert Kirchubel, PhD
Main activities: Visit battlefields, museums and other Civil War sites, hands on experiences, enjoy Washington, D.C., and other nearby attractions 

Regardless of ancestry or heritage or arrival date, the Civil War is an essential element in every American’s history. Abraham Lincoln warned that America could not be conquered from the outside, only from the inside, and by 1860 this seemed to be coming true. All the growing tensions of the day had an impact: federal vs state power, industrial vs agrarian economies, slave vs abolitionist morality. The survival of the United States, then barely 80 years old, depended on a few leaders and a few battles.  Gettysburg canon

For one week, TOURS De FORCES will study critical battles and events within a couple of hours’ coach ride from Washington, D.C. Rob Kirchubel from FORCES and a pair of nationally known experts will lead this examination of the action around the capitals of the two warring parties, less than 100 miles apart. We will spend one day each at Antietam, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Appomattox, VA. We will also visit the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, VA. There will also be an unstructured day in Washington, D.C., with an optional “Mr. Lincoln’s Washington” excursion. 

Boiler Quiz: While all of these battles were critical, not all of them were decisive. What makes the difference and why?