Wabash's Immersion Learning Programs always highlight the College's Spring Break. Nearly 100 Wabash men will join professors for an immersion in academic topics around the globe.
Students will have a wide variety of experiences in Europe, the Middle East, and in the U.S. Professor of Religion Bob Royalty is taking students to Israel. Prof. Derek Nelson will have students studying Luther in Germany. Medieval French architecture will be the topic of Political Science's Alexandra Hoerl's group in and near Paris. And students studying the American Civil War will visit sites and study along the east coast with Professor Tracey Salisbury. And students will visit Washington D.C. with Rhetoric Profesor Sara Drury to learn more about the rhetoric of politics.
Service is always a part of Wabash spring breaks. One group of students organized their own trip to Appalachia.
As always, students are writing blog updates throughout the trips to share what they're learning and experiencing. Follow along all week on the Immersion Learning blog. Below are summaries of each trip written by staff writers of The Bachelor.
Contested Texts, Contested Sites – Israel by Scott Morrison ‘14
Over the last several thousand years, important religious figures have been said to have graced the historic land of Israel. Wabash students will get the chance to see some of the most important sites of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Professor of Religion and Philosophy Robert Royalty is leading a class of 12 students along with Professor of English Warren Rosenberg and Professor of Spanish Gilberto Gómez to explore important places throughout Israel and the West Bank.
Royalty has led classes to Turkey to study the early Christian communities of the first and second centuries, but has never been to Israel/Palestine with a class. “I’ve studied and taught the Bible for many years and recently have been working on comparison of the Bible and the Qur`an,” Royalty said. “My focus turned also to the part of the world that Jews, Christians and Muslims hold as holy and foundational to their faith—in particular Jerusalem or al-Quds. There are many sites claimed by all three religious traditions and we will see a wide variety of pilgrims and believers.”
Over the course of the semester, the class has studied the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur`an exploring how the figures and the stories in all three are often intertwined but often different. The class has looked at the texts’ similarities and differences with respect to narrative, rhetoric, history, and theology.
The class will fly into Tel Aviv and visit the University of Haifa before heading to Acre for a tour of the old city as well as Crusader sites. The group will explore Nazareth and Jericho before heading to Jerusalem to see the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and multiple museums.
The final location Royalty will lead the class is Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank.
Topics in Theology: Luther, Calvin and the Protestant Reformation – Germany by Ian Artis ‘16
Martin Luther, German monk, former Catholic priest, and professor of theology, was a godly man ahead of his times in terms of religion. His 95-page thesis fought back against indulgences, his marriage set the precedent for clerical marriage (for Protestant priests), and he was a key figure of the Protestant reformation. Associate Professor of Religion and Wabash alumnus Derek Nelson ‘99 has specific goals for his Luther course, which will solidify the course content.
“I think the trip will make the strange familiar and the familiar strange,” Nelson said. “I want the students to see this was a person and a movement just like any other person or movement. He had a public life and a private life. The particular form of family life that Luther Calvin had was different because it was so long ago.”
Site visits are key in allowing students the chance for readings to come alive.
“We’ll spend two days in the Mainz and Heidelberg,” Nelson said. “We’ll then travel to Worms, and after that, a castle in central Germany where Luther was imprisoned for a year and translated the bible into German. Airfort, another site, is where Luther was a student and a monk. We will spend some time in the town where he lived. I can speak pretty good German, and have some students who are traveling with us that can also speak some German.”
The entire trip is not all site visits. Each student is responsible for teaching his peers a certain piece of Luther’s life in Germany.
“Each student will do a site presentation,” Nelson said. “They’ll do a 10-minute presentation on it and then submit it as a paper. Each person will be an expert on that area and explain why it’s important to the rest of the group.”
History of Political Thought: Medieval Political Thought and the Modern Imagination - France by Ian Artis ‘16
Medieval French architecture is not a major, minor, nor area of concentration. However, Assistant Professor of Political Science Alexandra Hoerl is teaching a course this semester focusing on just that. With an immersion component in Paris, France, the class seeks to show the significance of the architecture in the lives of those who built and worshipped in them.
“The class is two-pronged,” Hoerl said. “It provides exposure to selected authors and ideas construed very broadly in a geographic and chronological sense. It spans from the 6th through the 14th centuries. The students are reading texts from France, the British isles, Italy, and Holy Roman Empire. It gives them an idea of the most important ideals to come out of this period – how individuals saw themselves in relation to God, kings, and other people. The other half examines how these ideals were received in the 19th and 20th centuries. They study the important questions of citizenship in democratic and republican politics.”
The goals for this class are specific and crucial to understanding the overarching themes. The content is not easy and the standards are not low, but the key points are clearly set.
“I’d like students to be able to examine ceremonial objects both sacred and secular, so we’ll be visiting museums,” Hoerl said. “I’d like students to see that there’s not a substitute for seeing a 3-D object and how that object was used and it’s full significance. They’ll see the details of stained glass, Chablis wear, books, carvings and columns, a wide variety of objects. The power of objects and what it represented to these people at this time is a major theme.”
There is also an emphasis on the restoration if these archaic buildings. These have been renovated and updated, and students also need to know the significance of this as well.
“The fact that these buildings have been changed is notable,” Hoerl said. “They were restored during the French Revolution, which had a strong secular reaction because of the churches. They need to explore questions like, ‘What is the meaning of a 19th century person recreating a 12th century building?’”
Although the class is intense, Dr. Hoerl has some non-academic aspirations for the trip, or at least just one.
“I’m hopeful that students are as charmed by the cathedral at Chatres as I was,” Hoerl said. “It’s a cathedral where much ink has been spilled, and one thinks it cannot be as excellent as it is claimed to be, and it’s not. It’s more excellent than it claims to be. We’ll take our observations from that building to spark a discussion about modern political virtues.”
American Civil War - by Scott Morrison ‘14
Students in Assistant Professor of History Tracey Salisbury’s “American Civil War” class will spend their spring visiting historical sites related to the Civil War in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
"I’m looking forward to get a whole new outlook on the American Civil War,” Blake Jennings ‘15 said. “It’s one thing to read about the battle grounds, but to actually visualize them gives you a whole new perspective and interpretation of what the war was like.”
The class will begin their trip in Washington, D.C. before heading to the African American Civil War Museum and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. They will then travel to battlefields including Antietam and Fredericksburg touring the battlegrounds based on a historical timeline.
Salisbury plans on having the class get hands-on public history and living history opportunities throughout the trip.
The group will spend four days in Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Spotsylvania before going to the Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier on the last day of the trip.
“The part that interests me the most about this trip is that I get to spend time with my fellow Wallies and learn about history in a different way,” Jennings said. “I’m just glad Wabash College gives us these opportunities to go on immersion trips and ‘immerse’ ourselves in a different culture, setting, or whatever it may be. I get to be more enlightened on a subject matter that I am very interested in.”
Voices of America, The Rhetoric of the Nation’s Capital - Washington D.C. by Cole Crouch ‘17
Students will travel to Washington, D.C. to experience the rhetorical and political influences that create America’s identity.
Voices of America: The Rhetoric of the Nation’s Capitol, taught by BKT Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Sara Drury, engages students to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely. Students will have the unique opportunity to experience Washington, D.C., and to explore the mission statement as it contributes to their journey through Wabash College.
Students are attempting to understand how Washington, D.C. functions as the link between rhetorical artifacts and their greater implications for America.
“Some of the topics include Supreme Court rhetoric, Congressional hearings, media coverage of significant issues, social movements, presidential rhetoric, and even how the architecture of Washington, D.C. ‘speaks’ particular meaning about history and culture,” Drury said.
It is inimitable to do this kind of rhetoric in the classroom.
“The trip is significant because while you can read about Washington as a center of politics, and watch movies and read scholarly articles, it’s quite another thing to have meetings with and ask questions of individuals who are working as elected officials,” Drury said.
By traveling to D.C., students will be able to truly perform rhetorical analysis from first-hand perspectives and experiences.
“I have chosen to do a rhetorical analysis of the AIDS Memorial Quilt that was first displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on October 11, 1987,” Dylan Miller ‘16 said. “I look forward to visiting D.C. so that I can visit the National Mall and further my research for my final paper.”
Students will visit and talk to leaders at NPR, the FBI, lobbying groups and PACS. They will tour the National Mall and Smithsonian Museums, the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights, and even meet one-on-one with Representative Messer.
Thanks in part to Career Services, Wabash alumni and other individuals; students will be able to spend an entire day in a career test drive that should develop their understanding of Washington D.C.’s professional environment.
“Over the course of the trip, I believe that many of our students will think about their current and future contributions to the political process of our nation – how they might use their training in critical thinking to act responsibly and lead effectively, working towards a more humane world for all,” Drury said.
Student Organized Trip to Appalachia - by Jacob Burnett '15
In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson initiated the War on Poverty in the United States. To promote this new agenda, he traveled to impoverished areas of Kentucky – in areas that would become known as the Appalachia Region. This area has evolved into 420 counties spanning from New York to Mississippi.
The area is plagued with remnants of poor access to healthcare, high unemployment rates, and low real income wages. This spring break a group of Wabash students lead by Seton Goddard ’15 seeks to understand the underlying factors affecting this community. They will be, in effect, immersing themselves in a new culture.
“There are a few reasons for choosing Kentucky…Eastern Kentucky happens to be one of the most impoverished regions of the United States, and it’s only 300 miles away from us in a neighboring state,” Goddard said. “Traveling to Kentucky also presents opportunities to engage with and better understand a culture that is slightly different from what we might be used to in Indiana. Finally, traveling to Eastern Kentucky matches names and faces with some of America’s greatest challenges from multiple perspectives - education, public health/access to healthcare, economic policy, and natural resources.”
Many of the areas in the Appalachia region faced tumultuous times due to the economic impact of the coal industry.
“One of the main reasons I was interested in taking this trip…was to see what is being done in eastern Kentucky to help increase economic activity in areas with high levels of poverty,” student John Henning ’14 who will be on the trip said. “More specifically, I am interested in what is currently being done to support people in areas that rely heavily on the economic impact of the coal industry.”
While the students are in Kentucky, they will be spending time in public schools, alternative schools, healthcare facilities, community shelters, food banks, and nonprofits that provide housing. Furthermore, the group will be visiting the Appalachian Center on the campus of the University of Kentucky and will be spending time with leaders in the coal industry and local historians. To further experience the lives of the people in this area, the group will face many of the same challenges – eating local diets and constrained food budgets. In all, it will provide the students with an eclectic exposure to issues and problems facing fellow Americans.
To prepare for the trip, the students met throughout the semester to watch the film Country Boys that focuses on the lives of two young men living in the Eastern Appalachia region of Kentucky. The students also took time to understand the current and past policy initiatives to target the above defined issues in the area.
“It’s my hope that individuals will gain an understanding of not only what it’s like to live in poverty, but how easy it is to end up in poverty, and most importantly, how difficult it is to get out of poverty,” Goddard said. “Specific to Appalachia, I’m hoping that participants will see how historical circumstances have landed eastern Kentuckians in this “spot,” and how incredibly cyclical poverty is a region of the country that has become known as ‘The Other America’.”