Quality of Life Grant Extends Classroom

by Howard W. Hewitt

December 3, 2007

Taking the class out of the classroom is a signature Wabash learning experience. Immersion learning and class trips have long been a part of the Wabash experience. Once in a while, the College’s great traditions and special connections go a step further. A Saturday trip to Southern Indiana allowed a Wabash professor to honor one of his mentors.

All of this was made possible through a combined use of funds from the 2004 Lilly Endowment Quality of Life grant. Professor of Religion Stephen Webb took his History of Christianity to the Reformation class to St. Meinrad, Indiana, to visit an Archabbey.

"Many of my students, Catholic or Protestant, have no idea that there are still monks in the world, let alone that one of America’s largest monasteries is in Southern Indiana," Webb explained. "When I announced this trip, I could tell the guys were starting to be more interested in the study of monasticism."

David Haggard ‘10 felt blessed to visit the site. "It was incredible to see men who were dedicated to a just cause and the sacrifies they make to improve the world," he said.

Webb prepared his class Friday with a video presentation from Matt Vest ’08. Vest was a summer intern in the Present Indiana Program, part of the grant, and did his research on the Archabbey and other religious immigration to Southern Indiana.

Monies from the grant covered costs for Webb to take his student for a first-hand visit. "When we got down there, it was like turning a movie from black and white to color," Webb said. "We spent the whole day with a monk, and he could not have been more engaging."

The class already had one connection to the historical Archabbey. Greg Schipp ‘11, one of Webb’s students, helped facilitate the Saturday outing. His father is a vice president for development at St. Meinrad’s.

"I would probably have not ever visited a monastery in the future had it not been for this trip," Caleb Mast '09 said. "I have always appreciated the simplicity that monasteries represent, but I would have never visited one had it not been for this trip."

Webb ‘83 also found personal fulfillment in the grant-funded trip. "Eric Dean (the late LaFollette Distinguished Professor in the Humanities) took me to St. Meinrad’s when I was a student, and it was a transformative experience," he said. "I finally feel like I have passed on Eric’s gift to a new generation of students."

 


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