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 SRU students travel outside U.S. to expand understanding of world 




November 25, 2008

Contact: K.E. Schwab  



SRU students travel outside U.S. to expand understanding of world


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University students will study art, history, English, special education, physical education, business, physical therapy, geography, and exercise and rehabilitative science along with other topics spring semester, but where they will be studying won't be their usual classrooms.

           More than 300 students and their professors will be off to England, Costa Rica, France, Ireland, the Bahamas, Italy, Peru, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands for a part of their coursework.

           The international component of their class work is part of the University's long-standing spring semester international travel seminars that links traditional classroom learning with a 10-day program in a foreign country directly linked to the course.

           "For spring semester, we are offering about a dozen-and-a-half seminar courses that will take our students out of the classroom during spring break and allow them to connect their learning with hands-on, on-site learning in a foreign country," said Pamela Frigot, director of international services. SRU's Office of International Services coordinates the programs.

           "In addition to the obvious academic learning experience, the opportunity to travel and learn about other cultures is a very strong selling point for our program," Frigot said.

           In its 14 years, the program has sent more than 1,600 SRU students abroad during spring break.

           Most of the 2009 international study programs will run late-February through the first week of March.

           Carlis White, assistant professor of history, takes his "Greece and Rome" course students to Florence and Rome for an up-close look at history. "In Florence, we will visit the Duomo, the Academia and have the chance to see Michelangelo's sculpture of David. Students will get to see a vibrant Medieval town. I am concentrating my pre-travel course lectures on Roman history. I will give my students quite a bit of background before we get to Rome so they can then have the experience of seeing what they are hearing in the classroom," he said.

           "We will spend time at the Roman Forum, the Coliseum and the Vatican. We will also visit an active archeological dig and visit both the Capitoline Hills and Palatine Hills, the ancient city's 'High Rent' district where the power brokers of Rome once lived. The area includes what remains of the Augustus Palace, home of the first emperor of Rome. Some of his wife's private living areas have been preserved and are open to the public," White said.

           White's course ties to the "Historians Craft" course offered by John Craig, history professor, which will also study in Italy. The two student groups will travel as a unit, with the professors sharing lecture duty as appropriate.

           Also going to Italy to look at various sports venues, including the Coliseum, are students in the "Sport Management" class taught by Robin Ammon, professor of sport management.

           Rachela Permenter, professor of English, will also take her "Shakespeare" class to Italy. "This has been a very popular undertaking. Twenty students have signed up and eight are on a waiting list. You have to know that Shakespeare set a number of his plays in Italy and the Italian Renaissance had a huge influence on England. We will study why his plays were set in Italy and how Shakespeare took his plots from Italian renaissance operas and stories, including 'Romeo and Juliet,'" she said.

           The class will travel to the Roman Forum for a discussion of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," to Venice for a discussion of the "Merchant of Venice" and to Verona for lectures on "Romeo and Juliet" and "Two Gentlemen of Verona." 

           Donald Kerchis, assistant professor of political science, will lead his "Politics of Developing Areas" class to Costa Rica. The trip will be Kerchis' 25th visit to the country and his second with SRU students. "Students will visit the Costa Rican legislative assembly and meet with national and local political leaders to discuss pressing issues, including development issues such as eco-tourism opportunities. We are hoping to meet with Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias, the country's current president, and, of course, will visit with Ambassador Julio Chavez, a longtime friend and frequent visitor to SRU," Kerchis said.

           Participating students will also visit the island's rain forest, volcanoes and beaches where students learn how the country is supporting "greening" issues.

          A dozen SRU students will travel with the "Field Studies in Oceanography" course to San Salvador in the Bahamas. The class is taught by Tamra Schiappa and Jack Livingston, both associate professors of geography, geology and the environment. "This trip will provide students with a unique opportunity to experience the geology, ecology and culture of tropical islands," Schiappa said. "The field experience is structured around organized field trips to expose students to the environment of living and fossil reefs, caves, beaches, inland water bodies, archaeological sites, lagoons and other sites of natural history significance. Specifically the students will participate in daily snorkel trips around patch reefs, float down a tidal creek, climb through caves and visit old plantations." The overall theme is to allow students to develop an understanding of human pressures on island environments and the human impact on reef development and health.

           Two groups of students will travel to Ireland, including those enrolled in "Adapted Aquatics," "Adapted Therapeutic Exercise" and "Disability Sport in the 21st Century" classes, taught by Pamela Arnhold, assistant professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences, as well as those enrolled in Nancy Shipe's "Health Care Systems II" class.

           The Museum of Childhood, lectures on Charles Dickens, a visit to Oxford University and a waling tour, including Harry Potter and the entrance to Christ Church, will be part of Bernice Brown's "Children's Literature" class in England. 

           "The course introduces students to the values of children's literature and the wide range of genre available for enhancing the development and learning of students. The trip is designed to give my students opportunities to implement strategies for the creative presentation of literature once they enter the classroom as teachers," Brown said.

           Kurt Pitluga, assistant professor of art, will lead his "Art History Seminar" students throughout Peru. "In three days in Lima we will visit the museums and examine the archeological treasures that have survived. At Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, we will see Inca archeological finds and visit the Sun Temple before traveling to a large Inca fortress. A train will take us to Machu Picchu, the summer retreat of the Inca king, discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. The program's great advantage is the exposure it gives students to the great archeological discoveries of the 20th century that have just recently been placed on the World Heritage List of 'New Wonders of the World." Pitluga said.

           Tom Como, associate professor of art, takes his art students to study "Early Modern Art" at all of the popular art museums in London and Paris.

           Other spring break programs include Bonnie Siple's practicum in athletic training class in San Jose, Costa Rica, Joanne Leight's "Philosophy and Psychology of Coaching" class in London, Albena Iossifov's "Operations Management" class traveling to the Czech Republic, Bruce Orvis' "Marketing Seminar" in Italy, and S. B. Mani's "Introduction to Anthropology" seminar offered in Peru. The College of Education's "Introduction to Special Education" course taught by Jodi Katsafanas, assistant professor of special education, will conduct research in the Netherlands.

           In addition to the SRU students studying abroad, the University has 92 international students from 45 countries enrolled on campus for fall and spring semesters.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.



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