PATRICK JANHKE ’18 | STAFF WRITER •
Over the last couple of months, students’ emails have been filled with messages telling them to apply for different immersion courses offered next semester. These courses bring a different experience to Wabash classes, one where students spend a week, typically, learning about the topic outside of the classroom. In the past, immersion courses have travelled to Peru, Italy, Kenya, and more. Since being rung in on Freshmen Saturday, Wabash students are constantly recommended to take these immersion courses because of the unique experience that they offer. In some topics, reading about ideas in a text book is just not good enough and the students need to experience it in person. Next semester, three immersion courses are being offered: BIO177 with Norman Treves Professor of Biology Eric Wetzel; HIS320/PSC314 with Associate Profeesor of Political Science Scott Himsel ‘85 and Associate Professor and Beesley Chair of History Stephen Morillo; as well as EDU330 with Associate Professor and Chair of Educational Studies Michele Pittard.
Wetzel will be taking students to Peru during the summer of 2018 as part of the BIO177 Global Health course. In this course, students will be looking at the complexities and problems that come with global health. In Peru, students will be working with Global Health Initiative-Peru collaborators and partners to work in urban communities in Lima and the Andean regions. The students will interact with researchers and other experts who are looking at diseases in both humans and animals. They will be visiting and working in clinics, hospitals, and government agencies. This trip gives students a unique experience because they will be encountering levels of extreme poverty which they probably have not seen here at home and will see the challenges that come with it. “Global Health problems are liberal arts problems,” Wetzel said. “And this trip helps to give students a new set of lenses through which they view their own disciplines, and how their work in those can contribute to finding solutions to these problems.”
6,000 miles away, Himsel and Morillo will take students to England during spring break of next semester for HIS320/PSS314, “The Common Law: The Role of History in Anglo-American Government.” The course will be examining how laws from England still affect the decisions that the U.S. Supreme Court make today. In this examination, students will be asking the questions of whether history should determine how we govern ourselves today, whether it should just be reference point for our decisions, or if we can apply history fairly and accurately to advance our present political goals, and more. “People are always surprised to learn the extent to which we still rule ourselves today based upon the Common Law of England,” Himsel said. “Our course allows students to see the impact that history still exerts today on self-government both in England and the United States and to ask whether this is a wise approach.”
The last class will not be leaving the country, but will instead be traveling down to Memphis, Tennessee to look at local education systems. Pittard will be teaching EDU330, “Studies in Urban Education.” In the class, students will look at issues related to urban education and at aspects of the Memphis education system. In Memphis, students will be working in the Public Schools with teachers from the Memphis Teacher Residency. In the past, this course travelled to Chicago and was only offered to students on the licensure track and education minors, but this year it was opened to all students who are interested in urban education. “Because we wanted to provide students with a different urban experience than Chicago, a new thing this year is that we’re moving the trip to Memphis,” Pittard said. “In addition to working in Memphis Public Schools with teachers from the Memphis Teacher Residency program including three Wabash alums, students will experience life in Memphis. I’m especially excited to take students to Memphis because of the historical significance of the city. But also because of some really interesting educational reform and urban development initiatives going down there.”
Immersion courses are part of what makes Wabash special. They give students the opportunity to learn about things that they would never be able to learn inside of the classroom. Students will be able to learn new cultures, new ways of thinking, and get a true understanding of the complexities at work in the world. For students interested in taking immersion courses in future semesters, be on the lookout for the applications that professors send out.