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Provost Briefs

Classics

This has proven to be a busy and eventful year in the Classics Department. Several of Classics students have gotten into top programs in the Classics and related fields: Graduating senior Andrew Abrams got into his two top choices in Classics graduate programs (both highly regarded): the University of Edinburgh (in the UK), and CUNY (where he was offered a ‘full ride’, tuition plus a stipend, for his entire time in graduate school until he earned a Ph.D.!). Similarly, Matthew Hynd got into the doctoral program in theological studies in Trinity College at the University of Toronto, where he hopes to become ordained. Additionally, Julianna Romanazzi, who is graduating with a degree in Comparative Literature (and who took Latin as one of her languages), got into the University of Toronto in Comparative Literature (a top program in that field). And, finally, one of our students, Elizabeth Sessions, who graduated in 2009 with two degrees, one in Greek and one in Religious Studies, has been accepted into the graduate program in International Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University. Shortly after she had graduated in ‘09, she accepted an internship at the National Council for US-Arab Relations to learn about the difficulties faced by less prosperous Middle Eastern nations. Shortly after that, she was accepted for an archaeological dig in Oman through the University of Pennsylvania. She has spent the past few years in Oneonta, NY, working in soup kitchens and helping the homeless write grants to get money for housing. Why did she write me a few months ago? Her specific ‘spin’ was that individuals in conflict-ridden and impoverished areas (especially in regions with remote pasts) could often develop a sense of community and identity (as well as generate an economic opportunity) by re-appropriating their history. This act of re-claiming a heritage could encourage a community to create a cultural project based on cooperation and collaboration for mutual benefit. Elizabeth (Evie) had found a way for her interest in antiquity to have a potentially profound impact for economically disadvantaged individuals in some of the most complex regions of the modern era. Evie exemplifies the kind of Classics degree HWS produces: True to the ‘ars liberalis’, the ‘skill set of a free citizen’, she uses her analytical and critical skills to be a deep thinker and problem solver who impacts the world around her for the benefit of all.

Finally, Prof. Capreedy’s work on his collaborative mapping software for ‘CLAS 251 The Romans: Republic to Empire’, which was made possible by a CTL Faculty Grant, has borne further fruit. To quote Prof. Capreedy’s synopsis of how this software works: “The application plotted ancient locations on a modern map provided by Google Maps and created a set of fields into which the students input data including the following: name of modern location, type of community, distance to Rome, travel route(s) to Rome, brief historical notes on the community’s significance to a specific period, how geography influenced the prosperity of the community, and an image with a captions. Once completed, students could view all locations with the respective data as a side or “pop-up bubble”.” After successfully integrating this software into his class, Prof. Capreedy applied for and was awarded a Mellon Digital Pedagogy Award to further develop his mapping software. This mapping software should prove a remarkable (and unique) contribution to the field of Classics, and a ‘feather in HWS’ digital cap’.