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Faculty Selected to Participate in the Mediterranean Trivium Seminar

Faculty Selected to Participate in the Mediterranean Trivium Seminar January 15, 2013
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A dozen faculty from an eclectic set of disciplines – geology to art to political science, to name a few – have been selected to participate in the Mediterranean Trivium: Earth, Sea, and Culture, a seminar exploring the interplay between humans and the natural world over time.

This is the second of the ACM-Mellon Seminars in Advanced Interdisciplinary Learning (SAIL), a five-year program aimed at supporting faculty as they develop innovative, multi-disciplinary curricula for upper-level students. The series of seminars, two at international sites and three at locations in the U.S., is funded by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

View of FlorenceView of Florence and the River Arno.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Klooster

The seminar participants, who applied as teams of three, are from Carleton, Coe, Luther, and St. Olaf Colleges. They will be led by the trio of Colorado College professors who proposed the topic and developed the preliminary syllabus for the seminar – Susan Ashley, Christine Siddoway, and Sanjaya Thakur.

“We’re particularly pleased with the broad range of disciplinary and regional expertise among the participants,” said David Schodt, Senior Program Officer at ACM who works with the SAIL project. “Along with their depth of knowledge, the group as a whole has a lot of experience in creating innovative curriculum and, in turn, implementing new curricular models. That’s clear from their accomplishments as teachers and scholars, as well as from the potential projects they proposed in applying to participate in this seminar.”

The Mediterranean Trivium will include an intensive, 11-day onsite portion in Italy this summer. Based in Florence, the group will take day and overnight trips to Rome, Pisa, Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius, and other areas. The itinerary is built around a series of case studies, all of which can be approached from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. In the months leading up to the trip to Italy, the seminar leaders will refine the syllabus to integrate the particular expertise of the participating faculty, who will share in leading discussions.

At each location, according to the leaders, the seminar will focus on the interrelation between natural and cultural environments, and how the specific conditions at the sites have inspired efforts by people over the centuries to shape, alter, and manipulate their surroundings.

The faculty have outlined multi-disciplinary curricular projects they plan to develop as a result of their participation in the seminar, such as creating new courses or course modules, or adding interdisciplinary materials and depth to courses they currently teach. Informed by the experience in Italy, they will work on those projects throughout the 2013-14 academic year.

“I’m looking forward, over the next year-and-a-half, to seeing how this group of faculty pulls together the two central aspects of the seminar,” Schodt said. “First will be the intellectual exchange and discovery sparked by the on-site experience, for which the leaders are gathering an impressive set of sites and resources. The second step will be to create new course materials and introduce them into the classroom.”

Mediterranean Trivium seminar participants

Colorado College (leadership team)

  • Susan Ashley, Professor of History
  • Christine Siddoway, Professor of Geology
  • Sanjaya Thakur, Assistant Professor of Classics

Carleton College

  • Peter Balaam, Associate Professor of English
  • Mary Savina, Charles L. Denison Professor of Geology
  • Chico Zimmerman, Hazel Lillian Amland Grose Professor of Classics

Coe College

  • Andrea Kann, Assistant Professor of Art
  • Martin St. Clair, Professor of Chemistry
  • Angela Ziskowski, Assistant Professor of History

Luther College

  • Anita Carrasco, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
  • Beth Lynch, Associate Professor of Biology
  • Matthew Simpson, Associate Professor of Philosophy

St. Olaf College

  • Doug Casson, Assistant Professor of Political Science
  • Nancy Thompson, Associate Professor of Art History
  • Mary Trull, Associate Professor of English


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