Spring 2014 Travel-Learning Courses Announced

Transforming academic theory into real-world experience
Pictured here is Skogarfoss, a waterfall with a 60-meter drop situated in the south of Iceland. Legend has it that there is a treasure chest behind the waterfall. But what brought OWU geology-geography professors Karen Fryer and Bart Martin and their students to Iceland last May, was their travel-learning course on the geology and energy resources of Iceland. (Photo courtesy of Karen Fryer)

Pictured here is Skogarfoss, a waterfall with a 60-meter drop situated in the south of Iceland. Legend has it that there is a treasure chest behind the waterfall. But what brought OWU geology-geography professors Karen Fryer and Bart Martin and their students to Iceland last May, was their travel-learning course on the geology and energy resources of Iceland. (Photo courtesy of Karen Fryer)

From the castles and cathedrals of Scotland and England to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park—the 10 Ohio Wesleyan University spring 2014 Travel-Learning courses will offer students challenging classroom study complemented by transformative worldwide travel experiences that will add a dimension of practical understanding for each student.

Bob Harmon, OWU physics and astronomy professor, is the program director of the travel-learning component of The OWU Connection. He has taken students to Japan—an extension of the course he teaches on “International Competition and Cooperation in the Exploration of Space.” As Harmon accompanied modern foreign languages professor Ching-Hsuan Wu and her students to Taiwan last May, for her course, “Meet Taiwan: The Modern and Traditional,” he observed the broadening of her students’ world outlooks and esteem for other cultures.

“So, when the opportunity arose to serve as Travel-Learning Program Director, I knew I wanted to do it because of the good these courses do for our students, as well as for the faculty who teach them,” says Harmon.

The following Travel-Learning Courses will be offered by Ohio Wesleyan for spring 2014:

Fine Arts/Humanities-Classics-Renaissance Art and Thought
Taught by Carol Neuman de Vegvar, Ph.D. (Fine Arts) and Sally Livingston, Ph.D. (Humanities-Classics), the goal of this combined trip (optional travel-learning component) will be to explore the art and thought in the Renaissance. The two complementary but different courses—Italian Renaissance Art and Medieval Renaissance Thought—will bring students together to examine the works studied in each course in the context of living cities that gave rise to them. Twelve students will be selected to participate in the travel learning experience in Siena and Florence, Italy, for two weeks in May 2014.

Chemistry—Chemistry and Art
Taught by Katie Hervert, Ph.D., students will blend their knowledge of chemistry with the beauty of art and architecture in Italy. They will travel to Venice, Florence, and Rome for two weeks in May, to see, through the eyes of chemists, the diverse properties in the color of natural dyes, oils, and other materials. Students will see how acid rain has impacted historical stone and metal sculptures throughout the cities. Students will visit Pompeii and Herculaneum to discuss paint pigment degradation and the impact of volcanic plumes and pyroclastic flow. They will see how chemistry plays a vital role in the creation, preservation, restoration, destruction, forgery detection, and analysis of the many works of art in Italy.

English—Re-placing Great Britain: Alternative Narratives of National Identity
Taught by Nancy Comorau, Ph.D., students will travel to London, Liverpool, and Manchester for two weeks in May to explore the vibrant black British and postcolonial arts scene in the UK. They will explore the ways in which the UK represents itself to visitors. By attending new plays, reading museums critically, visiting city archives, and taking walking tours focused on black British history, students will compare poetry and prose read before their trip by black British and postcolonial authors with their observations encountered as tourists in the UK.

History—Castles and Cathedrals in the Middle Ages
Taught by Ellen Arnold, Ph.D., students will travel to Scotland and England for two weeks in May 2014. They will learn to read castles to determine the form and function of ruined features while discussing their social and military functions. Students will observe how the buildings changed over time and how they were and are situated in their urban and rural landscapes. Blending what students learn in class prior to their trip, in film and historical text, with actually seeing sites in person, will show the power and sophistication of medieval society, as well as how important power and faith were for cultural identity.

Latin American Studies—Mexican Migration Experience
Taught by Bob Gitter, Ph.D. (Economics), students will travel to Mexico during spring break. Following course work involving research and class presentations, students will journey to the pyramids of Teotihuacan, churches, museums, and will spend several days in the state of Puebla, from where many people have migrated to the United States. Staying with families, students will become more familiar with the people and culture. After returning to OWU, students will create presentations about their experiences for their class.

Mathematics—Mathematical Models of Climate
Taught by Craig Jackson, Ph.D., students will travel to Alaska for 11 days in May 2014 to establish a remote weather station on the Matanuska Glacier, view retreating tidewater glaciers in Prince William Sound, meet climate modelers from the International Arctic Research Center, and view first hand, the effects of climate change in this near-polar region. In this course, students will examine climate in terms of mathematical modeling.

Philosophy—Modernity & Colonialism: Global Perspectives on History, Justice, and Truth
Taught by Shari Stone-Mediatore, Ph.D., students will spend nine days during spring break 2014 in Chiapas, Mexico to obtain a first-hand experience of life with the Zapatistas. Students will meet with local women’s cooperatives, governing councils, educators, and artists, who will provide glimpses of what it means to some indigenous people, to build “a world in which all the world fits.” Be prepared for rugged living conditions. Basic Spanish will be helpful but not essential, as translators will be there. Diverse narratives discussed in class prior to the trip will focus on modernity and progress as articulated by European Enlightenment philosophers and Latin American and indigenous American writers.

Sociology-Anthropology—Building Economic Justice from Below: Society, Politics and Social Movements
Taught by Paul Dean, Ph.D., students will travel to Argentina to visit historic sites of conflict and speak with participants of local movements. They will visit occupied factories in Buenos Aires, where workers occupied abandoned bankrupt factories and began running them together without bosses or managers. Students also will meet with workers at workplaces that are cooperatively owned and managed by workers and hear their stories of protest and how they built alternative economies. Complementing their class work prior to the trip, students visiting Argentina will speak with local journalists, economists, lawyers representing the workers, community leaders, and small business owners to understand Argentina’s struggle for economic justice, social movement dynamics, and how their efforts are connected to other global movements.

Spanish—Cervantes and the Quixote
Taught by Glenda Nieto-Cuebas, Ph.D., students will travel to Spain to enjoy many of the sites that the character Don Quixote visited (the Don Quixote Trail). They will see the masterpieces of the Spanish Golden Age such as art work, period architecture, theater performances, concerts, and the house where the author grew up. Having read other works by Cervantes as well before traveling to Spain, students will learn how to read, understand and analyze classical Spanish texts while practicing their language skills.

Zoology—Biology of East Africa
Taught by John Gatz, Ph.D., students will travel to Tanzania, including parts of the Serengeti ecosystem, Ngorongoro Center, and the Serengeti National Park. Students will be prepared beforehand by knowing about the biology of various species they will see—their natural histories, roles in the ecosystem, and behaviors. Added to that is the spectacular scenery, close-up views of the diverse wildlife—even some aerial views from a hot air balloon!

“An OWU education transforms our students’ lives and prepares them to be global citizens,” says Harmon. “Travel-Learning courses such as these are outstanding examples of the many ways in which we accomplish these goals.”

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