Mediterranean Trivium: Earth, Sea, and Culture in Italy
Onsite June 24 – July 4, 2013
The Mediterranean Trivium seminar will bring faculty together in Italy to explore firsthand how earth, the environment and culture interact, using this onsite experience to develop curricular innovations that foster multi-disciplinary learning by advanced undergraduates.
The onsite portion of the seminar will provide an opportunity for multi-disciplinary study and firsthand experience by examining how the singular geological framework and distinctive ecology of the Mediterranean region shaped Classical, Renaissance and modern cultures. Defined by mountains and the sea, Italy displays the impact of the slowly-changing elements of nature on how people work, live, think, and imagine. It also shows how the more disruptive forces of nature – volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods – affect societies.
The seminar will use archaeological and documentary evidence from these periods as well as the geological and ecological record to explore the interplay between people and the natural world over time. With Florence as a base, the seminar participants will examine cultural achievements and urban geology in Tuscany, with overnight excursions to the bay of Naples (Vesuvius and Pompeii) and Rome, and to foster the development of mulit-disciplinary curricular innovation.
The seminar aims to consider how nature has influenced social organization and modes of thought, and how, in turn, decision-making structures and attitudes toward nature determined how people acted in and on the natural environment. Participants will examine the following:
- How natural phenomena affect societies;
- How societies manage the environment;
- How people think about and imagine nature;
- How Classical and Renaissance perspectives inform contemporary society; and
- How to conceive, design, and implement multi-disciplinary courses or modules for advanced undergraduates.
The seminar emphasizes the perspectives of geology, archaeology, and history, and includes contributions from art historians, anthropologists, ecologists, economists, philosophers, and resource managers.
Reading and communication among participants before and after the onsite portion of the seminar will be directed at using the topic and site to create new multi-disciplinary curricular opportunities for advanced undergraduates at ACM colleges, which can also serve as models for other faculty.
A key goal of the SAIL seminars is to help students in their last two years of undergraduate education make connections across disciplines and synthesize the work of their disciplinary majors. In academic year 2013-14, following the onsite portion of the Mediterranean Trivium Seminar, participants will use the seminar content and structure to develop innovative new courses, sequences, modules, or faculty collaborations geared towards upper-level students on their home campuses.
Readings, guest speakers, facilitated discussions, and field trips during the onsite portion of the seminar will not only expand the multi-disciplinary and topical expertise of faculty participants, but will also set the stage for faculty to extend the breadth and intellectual coherence of liberal arts education for juniors and seniors at their own institutions. As a whole, the seminar will build participants' instructional capacity and prepare them to augment their teaching with integrative new curricular resources that make connections between the classroom and the practical and scholarly study of environment and society.
The SAIL leadership team will provide the intellectual leadership for the seminar during its residency in Florence, Italy. They will work with other participants to organize the seminar design and implement activities. Read more about the 2013 SAIL leadership team.
The other 12 members of the seminar group — cross-disciplinary, three-person teams from Carleton, Coe, Luther, and St. Olaf Colleges — were chosen by the SAIL selection committee through a competitive process. Participants will utilize their learning in the seminar to design and test multi-disciplinary curricular innovations for upper-level students on their home campuses in academic year 2013-14.
- See the SAIL Overview for complete details about the project.
- For questions, contact ACM Project Manager Cara Pickett (312-263-5000).