Three features of this experience stand out. First was the interaction with the students and their interactions with each other. The hands-on instruction in the media labs had already opened up a new dimension in faculty/student interaction. The discourse was more relaxed and engaged on different levels as students and professors found new ways to communicate. This type of informal interaction was greatly magnified on the road.
Second was the nature of the project itself. As any scholar knows, a week is a limited time for field research. This varies by discipline of course but an immersion learning experience needs to be built around a specific project that is feasible in a week and also integral to the class. In terms of learning and research, library work would have been highly beneficial but hardly attractive to students during their Spring Break. The digital media focus of this trip gave the students a very specific task for the visit. Students became more comfortable in their role and more attuned to the features of the sites as they honed their research skills. Many students remarked on the engagement and focus they felt on this trip.
Third was the experience of the culture of modern Turkey itself. Our field work focused on Roman ruins and the archaeology of the cities where early Christianity grew in the Pax Romana of the second century. To do this we negotiated one of the richest and most ancient cultures of the Mediterranean world. The country presents an incredible juxtaposition of ancient Greek and Roman sites with a rich Ottoman context that bridged late antiquity, the middle ages, and the early modern world. We experienced this in a modern secular nation of Muslims on the eve of U.S. aggression against an Arab neighbor of Turkey. The experience of travel to Turkey in March 2003 will, for many of us, be the most lasting and significant learning of the course.
This is the final product of the four student groups published in May 2003.
Trekking Through Turkey
This is a link to a series of articles written on the road in Turkey in March 2003 by Justin Lyons, Public Affairs at Wabash, with photographs by Todd Vogel.
“Ancient Cities in Cyberspace: Exploring the Uses of Digital Media in Teaching Early Christianity,” Teaching Theology and Religion 5:1 (2002) 42-48
This article evaluates a prior version of the class in which students contstructed websites on campus without any travel component.