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Winter Term’s Study Away courses take students to floodplains, art world

The WKU Study Away Office completed two courses during Winter Term 2012, taking students to the western floodplains or through the art world of New York City.

WKU students Luke Gilliam and Jacob Merriman examine a document about coastal erosion in Encinitas, Calif., during a Study Away course on floodplain management.

“Total Immersion Floodplain Management,” a civil engineering field experience course, offered a unique opportunity to explore massive flood control works and interact with professionals from many of the largest U.S. flood control districts. The goal was for students to develop an understanding of past, current and future floodplain issues by visiting sites of both spectacular success and abysmal failure in floodplain management.

Nine civil engineering students researched unique flood-control systems in three states, studying floodplain areas in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Death Valley, the Salton Sea and San Diego. Students also researched the Hoover Dam. Dr. Warren Campbell, associate professor of civil engineering and coordinator of the floodplain management minor, led the course and stressed that that the key element of the course is “immersion.”

“It’s like learning a new language,” said Campbell. “One must be immersed in the subject to begin to master it.”

Luke Gilliam, a civil engineering senior from Russellville, said learning in the field was key: “We learned about flood control systems in the classroom, but [through this course] we could actually climb on them to see how they really work,” Gilliam said.

These are the first WKU engineering students to experience a course designed specifically for them, and this model can be used in future Study Away courses.

"Art and Audience in New York City" allowed WKU students to experience the city's art world.

Another course, “Art and Audience in New York City,” allowed students to fully experience the art world of The Big Apple. Dr. Ingrid Cartwright, WKU art professor, led the course. Students spent five intensive days studying the city’s art scene, attending gallery talks and listening to lectures by prominent art historians. Students toured numerous museums, including the Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, where they viewed the major retrospective exhibition of Willem de Kooning. Students also visited the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square and Rockefeller Center and took in Broadway shows. Three individuals joined the group through a WKU Study Away non-credit enrichment-travel option called “American Traveler.”

Dr. Cartwright said her goal was for students to “critically examine the role of the viewer in art throughout history and from around the world.”

Cartwright said the course allowed students to see great works of art they had known only in textbooks. “Even more importantly,” she added, “it exposed them to the incredible scope and vibrancy of the art world in a cultural capital.”

Study Away is designed to challenge students to think about their coursework in a different way, setting them apart from their peers. Courses during Summer Sessions 2012 are in development and will be posted to the Study Away website as they are added.

WKU Study Away is a unit of  Extended Learning and Outreach.

Contact: Jerry Barnaby, (270) 745-2231

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