CU engineering students now have the opportunity to study literature, art, and culture in Rome, Italy, and Xi’an, China, with two faculty from the Herbst Program of Humanities.
The four-week seminar in Xi’an, called Self-Awareness and Images of the Other, is the newest offering, launched with 15 students in summer 2009 as an outgrowth of Senior Instructor Anja Lange’s prior experience teaching at Jiaotong University.
Lange plans to lead a second group of students this summer to this “small” city of eight million people, which is rich in art and cultural history. Xi’an was the seat of 13 dynasties before the capital was moved to Beijing, and CU students visit the Terra Cotta Warriors among other cultural treasures. They live in the dormitories at Jiaotong University where several Chinese students serve as student ambassadors.
Lange says she has taught Chinese art to students in Boulder, but “I find it very difficult to get the students to relate to it. On site, it clicks.”
Two of her students from the first seminar are now enrolled in Chinese language courses and pursuing engineering internships in China. “I expected the trip to China to be a fascinating and informative view of a culture and world very different than mine, but I did not expect to fall in love with the country as I did,” says engineering undergraduate Kelsey Whitesell.
Associate Professor Wayne Ambler has been leading the seminar Culture Wars in Rome during Maymester for the last five years. The two-week course, which is open to 25 students per year, replaces some of the reading expected in a humanities course with a high number of museums and sites visited, so the city itself becomes a text.
Having previously lived in Rome for a dozen years, Ambler brings his experience in the city together with his knowledge of Rome’s ancient, medieval, and contemporary culture for the course. Students live in a convent that rents reasonably priced guest rooms and is in a fantastic location near the Colosseum, he says.
“Learning in a book is nothing compared to being at the site,” says electrical engineering student Alex Fosdick. “Wayne was an expert in everything Italian, often taking us off the beaten path to see or eat something. I almost knew the city better than I knew Boulder by the end of the trip.”