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July 11, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU honors students dig Bermuda summer study experience 

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Two Slippery Rock University students, Kelly Smith, a computer science and mathematics major from Grove City, and Grace Evans, a mathematics major from Apollo, are spending their summer recounting their experiences in a Honors Program course that allowed them to study at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and the Bermuda Maritime Museum.

           The two SRU students were part of a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Summer Honors Program. The students spent a week studying at Millersville University, host of this year’s program, followed by 12 days studying in Bermuda.

           “It was amazing,” said Evans. “We got to see two archeological digs under way in Bermuda; we got to go out on the water and look at areas where some very historic, 1600 and 1700’s, shipwrecks occurred; and we got to see some of the houses and residences of people involved in the slave trade.”

           “It was a great opportunity – the experience of a lifetime – to experience the aspects of a different culture in a academic setting,” she said.

           All participants earned six college course credits in two courses for the program that included participation in the Lancaster summer field school program.

           Each PASSHE university was permitted to send two honors students to participate in the state system-sponsored program that was first offered in 1985.

           Dennis  Downey, professor of history and director of the University Honors College at Millersville University, led this year’s program “The Atlantic World in the Age of Revolution.”         The courses focused on the 18th-century Atlantic World and included work in geography, trade, politics and culture in the making of the Atlantic World. Students spent time studying both the changing dynamics and development of the region in the 18th-century.

           Their work also included an archaeology dig in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County.

           The course works combined historical and archaeological approaches to investing the past with an emphasis on commerce, race and identity, and the political cultures of the Atlantic World.

           Downey said this period of world history was the seedbed of deep transformations in politics, economics, cultural and society across four continents as subtleties of everyday life in isolated communities to the forces of imperial conflict and trans-oceanic migration came into fruition. “In the process, systems and identities collided in an unprecedented manner,” he said.

           Students in the class were asked to develop insights into the relationship of geography, trade, politics and cultures in the making of the Atlantic World. They made use of the exhibits and displays available at the maritime museum and the Bermuda Institute as part of their classroom learning and research.


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