The Honors College students will be traveling to New York for the second time as a part of the Honors program, “Study America” during spring break. This trip is not a spring break campaign, but a chance for students to learn outside of the traditional classroom setting.
“It’s academic, it’s curricular, but it’s learning in a new kind of way,” said Stephen Johnson, dean of the Honors College.
Students will leave the Friday or Saturday of spring break and will be gone the whole week. The trip to New York last year was focused on art, theatre and architecture, but this year the theme for “Study America” is Gotham City.
Johnson said this year’s theme has a “Gangs of New York” feel.Â Â Students will focus on 19th century New York, explore the origins of the city and the history of immigration to New York.
Students will explore the city with Dr. Tracy Shilcutt, associate professor of history, and Dr. Michael Harbour, executive administrative director of the Honors College. These instructors will provide information to the students, but the students will not be confined to a classroom. The trips they plan to take include visits to various museums and even Ellis Island.
“The learning will be dynamic, experiential and hands on,” said Johnson.
Students in the Honors College are required to take colloquia, a one hour Honors credit designed around a special topic. This “Study America” Honors program will provide a one hour colloquium credit for students.
Students must apply for this trip and there is limited space. Usually 12-15 students participate.
In the past students have traveled to cities such as Boston and Atlanta.
New York City provides “Study America” with plenty of opportunities to learn in the future. Possible scenarios for a future “Study America” program in New York could involve law and politics or Wall Street economics.
The Honors College does not plan on limiting themselves to New York City however.
“We’ve thought about and had proposals for trips to the West Coast and the Silicon Valley, we’ve had proposals for Puerto Rico, and for Toronto, Montreal and Quebec,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the idea is to not only look at great cities within our country, but also those that are in Canada and other areas.
“I would hope that students are able to think critically about their own place within the history and context of our country, that they will have a deeper appreciation for how cultural diversity itself makes all of us stronger, and also an appreciation for the uniqueness of urban settings,” Johnson said.