Research trips provide an excellent opportunity for students to see what they are studying first hand. Students benefit tremendously from exposure to the resources available throughout the area. More than simply field trips, these experiences foster hands-on learning by getting students to sites where they can do research for course credit. Destinations around Savannah include the Georgia Historical archives, the Telfair/Jepson Museums, the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, and concerts and discussions at the Savannah Music Festival. Learning outside the classroom familiarizes students with the process of creating public knowledge. Investigating the area’s culture promotes student engagement in civic life as scholars.
History Department faculty members regularly take students from all levels around the Low Country area to study artifacts, monuments, and architecture (among many other topics). In his Architectural History class, Dr. Chris Hendricks toured Drayton Hall, built 1738-42, near Charleston, SC. With her World Civilization II classes, Dr. Allison Belzer has visited Bonaventure Cemetery and the Mighty Eighth Museum. Students respond very positively; they enjoy the opportunity to make their own observations and to study firsthand the area’s cultural heritage.
In an Academic Learning Community for honors students, Dr. Beth Howells, Associate Professor of English, and Allison Belzer took the class downtown for a research trip to visit historical monuments. They studied not only who was commemorated in certain squares but also how tourists today interact with these monuments. Who is remembered? What type of monument commands attention? The faculty team designed the ALC around the theme of “Personal History and Crafting Memory.” Course assignments required first-year students to conduct their own research, form their own conclusions, and present the findings to the entire class.