|OFF-CAMPUS COURSES|Italy: Visual and Culinary Italian Arts Visit blog Morocco: A Documentary Journey and Cultural Exchange Visit blog Tanzania: Rural Education and Development View blog America: The American Southwest Visit blog Belize: The Wonders of Belize Visit blog
Italy: Visual and Culinary Italian Arts
This trip immerses students in Italian culture with an emphasis on art, architecture and cuisine. We see the great art collections of the Vatican, the Uffizi and the Academia, as well as the cathedrals of Rome, Florence and Siena. We also visit the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, the Pantheon, the Forum Romanum and the Colosseum in Rome; the Duomo, Ponte Vechio and Chiesa di Santa Croce in Florence; and the Basilica di San Domenico in Siena. In the village of Camaiore, we work with master artists to produce paintings using the traditional method of egg tempera (we gather farm eggs and learn how to combine them with pigments to create our own egg tempera mediums). We also make pizzas with a pizzaiolo in Rome and learn to prepare traditional regional meals in Camaiore.
Morocco: A Documentary Journey and Cultural Exchange
What can we learn by observing and experiencing the life of the people of Morocco? How can we render our experiences so that those who did not accompany us can nonetheless get closer to what we observed and learned from our travels, firsthand? Morocco possesses a diverse and lively history that has witnessed a long succession of different ruling people, such as the Romans, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Jews, Arabs and Berbers. This diversity is reflected through many aspects of Moroccan life, and students explore and document this rich cultural diversity. We begin in Casablanca, with its ramparts and colorful markets. Traveling back in time, we photograph snake charmers, magicians, acrobats and dancers. Students have several opportunities to work with underprivileged children in a variety of locations, including a circus school run by the AMESIP Foundation. Ross School students also develop workshops in web, photo and video for the children and together create a web-based product for sharing their stories. Through photography or video, journaling and the web, students document their experiences and create a personal visual essay as well as a media education program for the underprivileged children in Morocco that we meet.
Tanzania: Rural Education and Development
In this course, students volunteer in local preschools, primary and secondary schools. They assist in the teaching of English and computer skills to children and scholars, as well as teachers and other community leaders through an Adult Literacy program. Moreover, students assist in improving and building educational facilities in the community. They also develop the children's creative skills through crafts, such as painting, drawing and coloring and playing developmental games. In addition, students study the history of Tanzania and mainly of Zanzibar Island. Zanzibar Island is part of a beautiful tropical archipelago of islands and its capital, Zanzibar Town (known to many merely as Stone Town), is a fascinating place, with an intriguing blend of Indian, Arab and African influences. Towards the end of the trip students spend two days at the Mikumi game drive.
America: The American Southwest
This course focuses on the land, people and history of one of the most diverse and spectacular regions of the world–the American Southwest. During the first week, students prepare for the trip by reading and discussing several Southwestern writers, including Edward Abbey, Terry Tempest Williams, as well as Native American writers such as Sherman Alexie and Joy Harjo. At the center of their study is the essential relationship between humans and the natural environment and how the extreme landscape and arid climate of the Southwest dramatizes this relationship. Because the trip also includes a great deal of physical activity (skiing, hiking and mountain biking), during the first week, students also undertake a rigorous fitness regimen, biking and hiking the trails of Long Island’s East End. During the second and third weeks, students travel to Utah and southwestern Colorado, where they explore the landscape, skiing in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and hiking and biking through the high deserts of southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado. Guided by park rangers, students hike through Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, exploring mile-deep canyons and naturally occurring red rock arches that have been formed over millions of years. Local tour guides also lead students on mountain biking expeditions to a series of Native American “rock art” sites. Finally, students visit the archeological sites of the Ancestral Pueblan people in Mesa Verde National Park and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. In a medium of their choosing (such as video, photography or creative writing), each student documents her/his experience, responding to the central question, “How does natural environment affect people and societies?”
Belize: The Wonders of Belize
This ecotourism-related trip is aimed at helping students appreciate the diversity of ecosystems found in Belize, while also developing a deeper connection to the beauty of the natural world. As a home to many fragile ecosystems, that borders Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize is a small country in Central America. This unique area has many natural habitats from the lowland Savannahs in the north to the lush tropical rain forests in the hilly south. Limestone caves are found throughout much of the interior. There are over 250 cayes on the longest barrier reef in the New World with coastal lagoons, mangrove swamps, sand and grass flats and sea bird rookies. Also there lies an exciting cultural legacy manifest in the silent ruins of the ancient Mayan and Kekchi communities, and in the Carib and Creole fishing and forest villages. The various habitats within this spectacular country are host to a variety of organisms, from jaguar, giant tapir, and miniature silky anteater, to leaf cutting ants. Nowhere in the world can one experience such diverse ecosystems as Belize’s barrier reef and tropical rain forest.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1990, is world-renowned for being the first jaguar reserve. This "one-of-a-kind" reserve was established as a result of jaguar studies conducted in the area by Alan Rabinowitz. Besides being home to Belize's largest cat, the Sanctuary protects the headwaters of two major river systems and supports an abundance of hardwood vegetation and a diverse faunal assemblage.
On South Water Caye, students map the island and conduct surveys and a beachcomber’s scavenger hunt; explore the wrack line, the abundant grass beds and patch reefs located offshore; and study marine plankton and encrusting communities, the mangrove habitat and the creatures that thrive in that ecosystem. In 1996, the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included South Water Caye in its World Heritage list of protected sites of "universal value to humanity." They cited the reef ecosystem's remarkable biological diversity and beauty, calling it an area "of great scientific value" and noting that it is a habitat for threatened species such as the West Indian manatee and a variety of sea turtles.
Blue Creek Station is located in the remote, largely unexplored mountains of southern Belize. The site is situated on the banks of a clear, wild, tropical river, densely populated by many species of freshwater fish. Several trails are accessible from Blue Creek and allow for observation of hundreds of species of exotic birds and plants, and dozens of species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Large, spectacular limestone caves, some with Mayan hieroglyphics, are scattered throughout this area. At Blue Creek, students work with the village elders to restore a river and remove debris from the village area generated by non eco-tourists. In addition, they have an opportunity to help in the school’s library where they interact with local school children. As well, Ross students plant mahogany trees around the schoolyard with their school children partners.
|ON-CAMPUS COURSES|Greatest Films of the Twentieth Century Rites of Passage Baseball as NarrativeCulture Matters Visit blog Seeing, Sensing, Reacting Envisioning Science Cryptonomicon: Neal Stephenson, Alan Turing and the Complexity of CryptographyFace the Issues Visit blog
Greatest Films of the Twentieth Century
The Greatest Films of the Twentieth Century explores the most creative contributions to the global film market. The course is based on a series of films focusing on political and social history. Students examine a variety of themes including social and moral values, the generation gap, the impact of modernization on global culture, and the Cold War. American films are chosen from the list of Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated films. Some of the international directors are Antonioni, Axel, Bergman, Claire, Fassbinder, Fellini, Goddard, Hallstrom, Herzog, Kurosawa, Mikhalkov, Ozu, Tarkovsky, Truffault and Wenders. Each day, students evaluate and discuss the films. They also write a paper which allows them to do in-depth research on one of the thematic areas. The papers are presented orally on the final day of class.
Rites of Passage
A rite of passage marks the passage from one social or religious status to another, as from adolescence to adulthood. Explore with us, how different individuals throughout time have dealt with rites of passage. Discover through film and literature the social, cultural and psychological significance of these rites of passage in order to gain a better understanding of the human condition. (We will read from a selection of such renowned texts as J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption, and William Shakespeare’s Henry V or The Taming of the Shrew.) In this course, students read two novels and one play related to the films they watch. Other films are also presented which deal with the theme of rites of passage.
Baseball as Narrative
America’s poet Walt Whitman once described what would become our national pastime in the following way: “In our sundown perambulations of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing base, a certain game of ball... Let us go forth awhile and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms… the game of ball is glorious.” Baseball as Narrative examines the wide range of representations of the national game in American culture. The course explores literature, poetry and film as ways of understanding the power of baseball on our cultural imagination. The seminar focuses on group discussion, collaborative presentations and individual analysis. In addition to the academic pursuits of this course, we experiment with various strategies using simulations and invest time learning how to play aspects of this game.
This course invites students to explore perspectival difference and its relationship to human interaction. In an increasingly interconnected world, we routinely encounter cultural difference, whether in personal interaction or through experiences mediated by camera, print and other forms. We all bring to these experiences our own cultural backgrounds and values, which may differ greatly from those of others. This course is designed to help understand how cultural beliefs and assumptions influence cross-cultural and intercultural exchange. Through readings, film and class activities and discussions, we look at the relationship between the self and society, between values and behavior, “American” culture, individualism and collectivism, styles of communication, verbal and non-verbal language and others. Students then spend several days living in the South Bronx and studying at The Point, a community center dedicated to youth development and the cultural and economic revitalization of the Hunts Point section. Our focus is on the uniquely vibrant musical culture that has emerged in this area and the way it fosters community development. We study Latin percussion with the legendary Angel Rodriguez and take dance classes at the Point’s El Grito Dance Studio.
Seeing, Sensing, Reacting
In this course, students learn to tune in to their environment. They visit different environments, including modern architecture, historic architecture; urban, suburban and town spaces; different religious buildings; agricultural, woodsy, pond, bay and ocean spaces. Students start by finding the details of the spaces, and then recording these elements with camera, recorder or writing. Next, they concentrate on the feelings they get from the spaces. At the end of each day, they collate all their accumulated information and feelings. Having completed this, they focus on their conclusions and express them through writing, drawing, audio or whatever medium they choose, that is approved by the teachers. There are daily group discussions to direct the student’s experiences through a wide variety of disciplines, including science, architecture, art, socio-political, environmental and history.
This M-Term focuses on the power of imagery and how images can be critical tools for communicating complex ideas in science and technology. Although it may not be obvious, there are similarities between an astronomer's thoughts about rotating galaxies and the molecular biologist's concern with changes in protein conformations. The specific data are different, but thinking about how to visualize that data is similar in many ways. In this course, students explore the relationship between science and art in order to visually interpret scientific ideas.
Cryptonomicon: Neal Stephenson, Alan Turing and the Complexity of Cryptography
In the early period of World War II, the greatest threat to the forces of the free world was the code system of Nazi Germany. Without the ability to crack this complex mathematical formula, the Allied nations were powerless to prevent the continued expansion of the Fascist powers. The pioneering work of Alan Turing and others at Bletchley Park, Britain’s super-secret code breaking facility, led not only to cracking the Nazi Enigma machine but also to the foundation of modern cryptanalysis and the invention of the modern computer. Through a reading of the contemporary novel Cryptonomicon, students study the historical development of cryptography and Turing’s crucial role in the development of modern technology.
Face the Issues in English as a Second Language
Students are immersed in English while exploring two local issues: The rights of the Shinnecock Nation to self-governance and Community Supported Agriculture as it relates to Ross School’s philosophy and the food we eat in the School’s Café.
Indigenous people had been living on Long Island for 10,000 years before the Europeans arrived. They believed in taking care of the earth while sharing its gifts. As a self-sufficient people, they hunted, grew crops, made coiled pottery and created wampum, a currency made from shells. The Shinnecock system of governing kept the earth healthy, as the Shinnecocks thrived.
Now, five hundred years after the colonists arrived, the Shinnecocks are segregated on a reservation in Southampton, allowed to rule themselves, but living in poverty. Admission to their museum and the annual Pow Wow provides minimal funds. Their plan to build a casino on native land to improve their economic standing is being met with severe resistance from surrounding communities. The Shinnecocks believe it is their right to decide what to do on their land. Students explore these issues and visit the Shinnecock museum where they see first-hand the musical instruments, clothes and pottery of this Nation, as well as interview Princess Chi Chi, daughter of deceased Chief Thunderbird.
The students also learn about local agriculture. The Peconic Land Trust and local farmers and government bodies have made several attempts to save farmland on the East End. Ross School was at the forefront in recognizing the need to buy local, reducing pollution and improving the community’s economy. The Café serves fresh, seasonal, sustainable, organic food from farms committed in maintaining healthy soil.
Students read from primary sources, tour the Ross School kitchen and meet with Chef Liz Dobbs to hear about four local farms and the produce they yield. They also visit Quail Hill Farm and interview farmer and poet, Scott Chaskey.