The off-campus courses for Short Term 2014 were announced last week along with standard course descriptions. Professors who are leading the trips offered The Bates Student some extra insight into the expeditions’ details.
Fifteen students will accompany Professor Sanford Freedman on a trip to England, where theaters serve as notable attractions in London and where the history of Shakespeare runs deep. Freedman, who has led the trip several times before, explains, “London is in the peak of its culture as one of the most international cities in the world.” He remarked that three weeks of the trip ends up feeling like six months, both due to the full schedule and the advantageous Oyster card. This metro card is the key to the city of London that allows one to explore the city with the most ease. From the ballet to the British Museum, students will have the chance to taste a great variety of what the multicultural city has to offer.
Further East in Europe, 15 students will travel to Russia with Professor Jane Costlow to study environment as it relates to Russian culture in the agricultural city of Orel. Since 1988, Professor Costlow has led student trips to Orel through her established ties there. The incorporation of the humanities and Environmental Studies is one unique to this course.
Russia, with its incredible complexity, brings an intriguing angle to the study of the environment. Considered a second-world country, Russia contributes its own distinct factors to the issue of environmental sustainability. Much of this is due to the modernization Russia has experienced, which has led to wholly different political, economic, and ideological issues. Culture plays a defining role in this trip; daily lessons in conversational Russian and a much-anticipated homestay are a few key highlights.
Also sponsored by the Department of
German and Russian Studies, professors Raluca Cernahoschi and Jakub Kazecki, as well as their one-year-old baby Yana, will lead 16 students and on a trip to Germany. The course, entitled Weimar in Berlin: German Culture in European Context, will investigate the history of the nation while students experience life in the bustling metropolis of Berlin, later to be juxtaposed with the much quieter city of Weimar.
The students in the Germany course will also have the chance to roam the streets on both foot and bicycles. While the first half of the day will be spent sight-seeing, the students will also be required to complete imperative reading material. In addition to history, the course will incorporate politics, cultural anthropology, and psychology into its material.
Psychology Instructor Georgia Nigro will lead 12 students into a rural village in Malawi. Bordering on the rainforest, the village has remained purely “uncityfied,” or rural. The inspiration for this new trip came from a previous Short Term course Unequal Childhoods, taught by Professor Nigro and Professor Emily Kane. A woman who runs a nonprofit organization, “Go! Malawi,” was asked to speak for the class. Since then, she has taken Bates students to Malawi intermittently, although this will be the first time an official Short Term course has been offered.
Students in the Malawi Short Term course will work with the nonprofit, which specializes in developing sustainable programs of education, public health, and a healthy economy in the country. The organization is very focused on local education in the village. The main focus will be teaching children English, a language that the students are required to learn in order to move on to secondary school. While the Bates course will be focused on education, it is also quite interdisciplinary. The course also incorporates public health, developmental psychology, and environmental sustainability, and much of the trip is culturally intensive. Students will have the opportunity to stay in local families’ homes for several days and possibly attend a church ceremony with the community.
New on-campus courses will also be debuted this year. Visiting Professor of Sociology Ben Moodie will offer a new on-campus Short Term course called Moral Luck and Tragedy. The focus will be on the overlap between sociology and philosophy due to the amount of philosophy in social theory. The class was inspired by a book by Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness, which makes the observation that one common theme in ancient philosophy is the question of whether people have an equal opportunity to lead a good, moral life.
The Sociology course will investigate to what extent social and political institutions influence the public’s morals through the study of fascist and totalitarian regimes. While moral philosophy may lean towards a “nurture” standpoint, sociology would be inclined to take the “nature” position. Moral philosophy cites full control where sociology indicates the more uncontrollable factors to becoming a Good Samaritan.
Off-campus Short Term courses, not all of which are outlined here, are a great opportunity for Bates students who want to enhance their academic experience through foreign immersion and academia. Whether a student is a freshman or sophomore looking for an introduction to a study abroad experience or a senior who never had one, the 2014 off-campus Short Term trips are sure to provide an incredible variety of international perspectives.