|OFF-CAMPUS COURSES|Following the Inferno: Trekking the Hill Towns of Tuscany Visit blog World Service: Costa Rica Viers: US Virgin IslandsMozambique: An African Encounter Visit blog
The Magic of Salvador De Bahia, Brazil Visit blogEthnomusicology in Salvador, Brazil Visit blogThe Golden Matrix – Travel to Greece and Italy Visit blog
Following the Inferno: Trekking the Hill Towns of Tuscany
A historical ramble through Tuscany with Dante as tour guide! This course integrates the history of the Middle Ages with creative writing and the personal experience of the hill towns of Tuscany. Students travel to Rome for two nights with possible visits to the Vatican, the Roman Forum, etc. From Rome, the students travel by train to Florence and are introduced to the world of Dante. The group then treks through several Tuscan towns and villages, including Castelnuovo dell'Abate, Pienza and Montepulciano. Along the way the students read parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy and discuss the changing nature of literature, art and society in Medieval Italy.
World Service: Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a Central American paradise with active volcanoes, rain forests, inland lakes, beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific and incomparable wildlife. The World Resources Institute says that it has the most varied fauna of any country on the planet. In addition to toucans, quetzals, howler and spider monkeys, turtles, manatees, iguanas and poison dart frogs, there are over 850 species of birds, 200 mammals, 35,000 insects, 3,000 types of butterflies and 9,000 species of flowers.
In this two-week travel course, students learn about the cultural, historical and environmental issues confronting the Costa Rican people and devote significant time to service learning projects. We work with a local school in the Sarapiqui region to build an additional classroom as well as do projects that support student learning and environmental education. We work with local educators and builders and also get involved with the students themselves in and out of class. We explore the diverse landscape of Costa Rica rain forests on suspension bridges and zip lines, tour river and lake environments by raft and boat, hike some of the 12 tropical life zones and spend several days visiting the Pacific coastal environment as well. Learning and practice of the Spanish language is available on a daily basis. Learning about ecotourism, biodiversity, ecological systems, conservation and education is also a significant focus.
Viers: US Virgin Islands
Students have a hands-on experience that takes advantage of the diversity of ecosystems and isolation of the island. The island has a series of trails that are maintained by the Virgin Islands National Park Department and are easily accessed from the station which includes historic sugar estates and bay rum distilleries, as well as petroglyphs, geologically significant rock formations and pristine sandy beaches. There are land and water based tours that are arranged and additional programs include informal discussions and illustrated presentations on cultural activities, island history and a variety of ecological topics. As part of this experience students are also involved in a community service program. VIERS staff conduct guided trail hikes, seashore explorations, mangrove walks, plant and wildlife identification excursions, and snorkeling outings to identify marine life to visitors of all ages to discover the local environment.
Mozambique: An African Encounter
In this course students participate in an orphanage re-building and rural home-building, sports development, island and river exploration, and cultural history. Students work on the coastal village of Vilanculos, a short boat ride from the World Heritage Site Bazaruto Islands. The village of Vilanculos was devastated by the cyclone Favio in February 2007 and since then it is being rebuilt. Moreover, students participate in a soccer-coaching clinic with the local children’s teams the organization our students work with supports. In addition to this, students study the turbulent history of Mozambique and its numerous settlers from the Arab commercial and slave-trading settlements to the Portuguese, to the British, to the war and today.
The Magic of Salvador De Bahia, Brazil:
An Intimate Photographic Journey with Ernesto Bazan
Students have the rare opportunity to work one-on-one with renowned documentary photographer Ernesto Bazan in a private workshop tailored specifically for them to explore the culturally diverse costal region of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil and its surrounding villages. In his teaching Ernesto Bazan stresses the importance of being emotionally in tune with your subjects to produce a series of revealing images that portray a sense of the place and of its people. Each student chooses a theme or story to explore and develop, both photographically and in journal entries, throughout the workshop. They also post their work and experiences on the web.
"I simply adore being and shooting there. It’s one of the most exciting workshops I’ve been teaching lately. I will take you to photograph some very special people, including fishermen in a remote village along the coast, a Capoeira master teaching Favela's children how to learn this noble art, the daily life of a group of squatters in an ex chocolate factory and many other exciting subjects. Not to mention the old part of town, with the beautiful beaches teaming with with life." (Excerpt from Ernesto's letter to us about the workshop in Salvador de Bahia.)
Ethnomusicology in Salvador, Brazil
Students travel to Salvador, the capital of Afro-Brazilian culture in the coastal region of Bahia. We stay in Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador and take morning and afternoon drumming and dancing classes with The Grupo Cultural Olodum. The group is comprised of over 100 drummers, dancers and instrumentalists whose performances dominate the yearly carnival in Salvador. Their musical style is a mixture of “Afro”–traditional African rhythms in Brazil that haven’t become samba–and reggae. In addition to master classes, students spend time researching and writing musical ethnographies. Olodum is the preeminent civil rights organization in Bahia, "active in the area of militancy in the Black Consciousness Movement. Olodum develops strategies to combat racial discrimination, promotes self-esteem and pride among Afro-Brazilians, and defends and fights to assure the civil and human rights of the marginalized in Bahia and throughout Brazil." In fact, Olodum is just one of a large number of politically active cultural groups in Salvador. Thus pairs of students each focus on a particular performance group and document the ways in which it is involved in the present, burgeoning rights movement in Brazil.
The Golden Matrix – Travel to Greece and Italy
This trip retraces the steps of ancient knowledge from Pythagoras, Sophocles, Plato, Aeschylus, Pericles, Praxiteles, Euripides, Sappho, Aristotle, et al. who inherited the occult wisdom of earlier Egyptian and Babylonian sages. From classical and Hellenistic Greece through the preservation of this knowledge in Medieval monasteries and cathedral schools after the fall of the Roman Empire (and concurrently in the great mosques, palaces and houses of scholarship of Islamic Baghdad and southern Spain) to its celebrated rediscovery, known as the Renaissance, and the dissemination of a new Humanistic philosophy via the house of Medici and the Florentine Academy, students are challenged to understand “The Golden Matrix”—a tradition of knowledge expressed through symbols, myth, philosophy and theology passed through generations of civilization.
Beginning in Athens, students unearth and analyze classical art, architecture, literature and philosophy in the tradition of the Pythagorean School, Socrates and the Platonic Academy—what made this period the Golden Age of Greece and the foundations of Western tradition? We follow its development through Alexander the Great’s Hellenistic empire, including the Academy at Alexandria, the cultural and racial fusion of his empire and the “global” trade of the Silk Road. After visiting such sites as Epidaurus and Delphi, we study the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine monasteries and churches which preserved ancient Greek culture after the fall of Rome through the Middle Ages. In what forms was the ancient knowledge incarnated and symbolized? How did the preservation and distribution of this ancient knowledge by the Byzantines compare to that of the Arabs of the Middle Ages who were not only translating, preserving and building on the knowledge of the past, but innovating in all fields with their own “renaissance” in Baghdad and southern Spain.
After a brief visit to Rome to tour the Forum and Pantheon where the Renaissance artists Brunelleschi and Botticelli traveled to draw the recently excavated ruins of their ancient Italian heritage, we move on to Florence to study the roots of the Renaissance and the traditions of the Neoplatonic Florentine Academy established by Marsilio Ficino. The idea of a symbolic, mythological, hieroglyphic “hidden philosophy” will be the alchemical challenge for students to decipher as they deconstruct the art, architecture, literature and scientific advances of this burst of creativity in the 15th century. Translations of the ancients from Greek to Latin by scholars who fled Constantinople after its fall to the Ottomans, the reawakening to ancient Roman culture and the economic prosperity of the Italian city-states through trade, industry and an emerging capitalism all converged to fuel the birth of a new philosophy and culture that celebrated the dignity and creativity of man. From the great architectural works of Brunelleschi, Alberti and Michelozzo to the art of da Vinci, Botticelli, Ghiberti, Donatello, Masaccio, Cellini and the earth changing contributions of Galileo visible at the Institute and Museum of History of Science, we wonder at the heights of beauty and genius that were achieved in so brief and dense a period of time as the Florentine Renaissance.
The “Golden Matrix" does not end with Renaissance Florence, but lives on in the modern Academies such as the American Academy in Rome and Villa I Tatti in Florence where contemporary artists, architects and historians conduct ongoing scholarship in the spirit of the Platonic, Alexandrian and Florentine Academies of the past. We visit these institutions to understand their work and meet with contemporary practitioners of the “Golden Matrix.” Additionally, in keeping with our values of global citizenship, we also try to meet students from a school in Athens as well as Florence to share our aims and learn about their respective cultures, values and curriculum.
The outcome of this M-Term is a continued development of a unit that addresses the transfer and interchange of knowledge, trade and ideas from the Classical world through the Middle Ages and up to the Florentine Renaissance and the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain at the end of the 15th century. The fusion of peoples, languages and customs as well as the clash of faiths during these periods are addressed.
|ON-CAMPUS COURSES|Scientific Structure: Artistic Visualizations Science into Art
Winter Outdoors Visit blog China Today: Change and Non-change in the Modern World Breaking Boundaries American Visions History and Films Cultivate - Translate - Implicate - Mediate
Scientific Structure: Artistic Visualizations Science into Art
Images of life science specimens (microscopic/macroscopic views) are interpreted through various artistic mediums including large digital prints, encaustics on wood, colored pencil renderings, 3D sculptures and paintings on canvas. Pattern, color, texture and light are captured through the use of a microscope and then deciphered, deconstructed, abstracted and transformed into a portfolio of artistic, scientific works. Our muses are the works of various artists whose work is science-based, including the neuron-anatomical prints of Katherine Sherwood, DNA still lives of Mia Bronwell and fractor reactor sculptures of Todd Siler. Students collect natural samples as well as have a large resource of slides and specimens to work with. Visiting artists/scientists, working in this genre share their artistic works with the class.
In this course, students experience and study several outdoor activities, in terms of the physics involved and effects on the human body. Students study the long-term health benefits of hiking, biking and skiing, analyze the differences between aerobic and anaerobic activity, and also study the effects of technology on these activities (particularly biking and skiing). Local mountain biking and hiking excursions are planned to several places including Northwest Woods and Hither Hills State Park in Montauk. Students also travel to Stratton Mountain in Vermont for four days of alpine skiing (cross country skiing and snowshoeing may also be available). Students are required to document their learning and experiences in a journal in the medium of their choice (writing, photography or video). All skill levels accepted; no prior experience required.
China Today: Change and Non-change in the Modern World
This course is focused on Chinese contemporary culture and society, with supporting materials related to traditional culture and values. It is a multimedia study of Chinese politics, economics, arts, literature, films, photography and music. The course tempts to show the diversity of the culture by geographic region and China’s unique link to global culture. Students are expected to do an original research project on a topic of their choice which may involve a paper or a DVD which explores an aspect of Chinese culture.
This course explores the world of contemporary art with an emphasis on interdisciplinary work that breaks traditional boundaries. Through films, visits to artists' studios, museum visits and group discussions, students engage with the ideas that motivate contemporary artists, including raising political issues, interfacing with technology, expressing various aspects of identity and the merging of one's life with one's art. We look at the art of Ray Johnson, Jean Michele Basquiat and William Kendridge, among others. Students also produce their own artwork using a variety of media and approaches, including working from the model, creating stop action animations, monoprinting with a master artist, and engaging in large scale painting and installation work.
Henry David Thoreau once described our country’s prospects as “more dawn to come. The sun is but a morning star.” Coupled with this core belief in American optimism is the often difficult task of struggling to obtain the American dream. In this course, students explore a variety of recent American artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers who have negotiated our high aspirations of making it and our collective disillusionment when we don’t. Among those included in the course are Bob Dylan, Charles Mingus, Patsy Cline, Spike Lee, Ray and Charles Eames, Edward Hopper, Weegee, Don DeLillo and John Updike. MAKE NO MISTAKE, this course involves much serious endeavor and quite a bit of academic writing. But for those students up for the task, American Visions is truly a rewarding experience.
History and Films
Students encounter history through the cinema. They explore the relationships between facts and fantasy, life and art in historical feature films, asking themselves why and how filmmakers use historical settings. The films chosen for the course come from several continents and represent many points of view. They may include Spartacus, Alexander Nevsky, The Return of Martin Guerre, Queen Margot, Danton, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Patton, The Battle of Algiers and The Deerhunter. Each student is responsible for researching and presenting to the class the historical background to at least one of the films in the course, together with information about the film itself, its director, and the context in which it was produced. These presentations are made in both oral and written form. Students also develop scenarios for films set in historical periods of their own choice in which they demonstrate their understanding of issues that arise in discussions.
Cultivate - Translate - Implicate - Mediate
A material investigation into architectural design
This studio-based course examines the relationships between idea and form, culture and space, materiality and tectonics, local and global, individual and community, architecture and site. Numerous architectural strategies and techniques are explored during this short but intensive introduction to the architectural design process. Each student begins by building a three-dimensional material investigation engaging either the process of casting or fabricating in order to further one's understanding of materials and tectonics. By diagramming architectural precedent studies students begin to learn the language and vocabulary within the discipline of architecture. By studying a specific site and constructing a series of interpretive yet precise mappings of both the physical and cultural conditions embedded within the natural and built landscape students learn to think of site as a place and a situation with an underlying text. Students work in both two- and three-dimensions producing drawings, collages and models engaging wood, plastic, metal, wax, cardboard, images and text. Students learn basic model building and architectural drawing techniques in order to produce their own set of documents for a design proposition for a Center for Student Housing.