My idea for a study-away is still very loose at this moment. The most concrete part of my idea is to create a study-away/abroad experience that builds on itself. This idea would truly incorporate ideas of learning that move from creating awareness to discussions, then on to developing a new understanding and then being able to incorporate the understanding it into student work, which is described in Sobania’s discussion of building blocks of learning, which also aligns well with Bloom’s taxonomy of learning. “This pattern of increasing complexity holds true for the building blocks of all institutional outcomes. ” (Sobania: 39)
In this idea, students could first study docs that are about a particular topic, then students could visit and document local applications/examples of the topic, and finally travel to a place that contains roots or connections to the topic.
For example: A program could explore border issues, including immigration, refugees, and related instances of inequality through the lens of identity.
First, students could watch films like Through the Repellent Fence (Trailer here), 4.1 Miles, The Earth Did not Speak which all address issues of lost identity due to shifting borders or land ownership, but each in a different place. Next, students could have discussions in class and maybe create short audio or video autobiographies about the ways their own identity is tied to the places they have lived. Then students could do documentary work or perhaps doc/service learning work with immigrant populations locally in Boone or semi-locally in Winston or Greensboro. Finally, students could travel to a place that has had shifting borders recently or has been misplaced and forced to re-define their identity. Initially, I thought of Slovenia, because the country is so new and on every side it’s borders have been an issue of contention with the neighboring country. Additionally, they have been strongly affected by the refugee crisis. I do think that there are other places that this could be explored, however, like the US/Mexico border or even in NYC with discussions of gentrification as a type of shifting border.
The idea could also be designed around a different topic, but keep this same structure. For example, after today’s walk through Harlem, I’m considering how my Media students AND education students could do a study-away looking perhaps at the history of minority education issues in the US. This could follow the same model of starting with docs and reflection and a local component, and end in Harlem, on a walking tour.