BETHANY, W.Va. – A pair of Bethany College professors and their students turned the world into their classroom during the College’s January term by traveling to Europe and Central America to enhance their educational experience.
Professor of Fine Arts Kenneth Morgan took a group of 10 students to Italy for a course titled “The Art of Rome, Florence and Venice.” Clinton Maffett, Chair of the Department of History and Political Science, headed south to Panama with 10 of his students for a class on “International Development.”
Morgan has been taking students to Europe during January terms since 1989. He believes this year’s students, most with little or no background in art history, saw and learned more during their two weeks in Italy than would have been possible had they spent an entire semester in most classroom-bound courses.
“There is no power point presentation that can truly compare with the experience of actually tilting your head back to look at Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel,” said Morgan. “There is no picture in a textbook that approaches the feeling of walking all the way around Bernini’s breathtaking sculpture of Apollo and Daphne. The experience of actually being in Italy and studying its art and architecture literally changes lives.”
“A travel course such as ‘The Art of Rome, Florence and Venice’ involves a lot of hard work for the professor and the student,” Morgan said. “But the benefits are definitely worth every euro.”
Maffett had also taken several student groups to Panama in the past. Since this year’s “International Development” course featured a focus on the environment and sustainable development, Maffett’s familiarity with Panama’s struggles and successes made it a logical destination.
“Panama is a lesser developed country but even though there is still immense poverty, it has achieved a moderate amount of political and economic success,” Maffett said. “The canal and the banking industry are noteworthy topics but there are also grave environmental concerns such as deforestation and toxic pollution.”