SRU students explore the world during faculty-led trips


Great Wall of China

Jack Livingston and Xianfeng Chen from SRU’s Geography, Geology and the Environment Department are leading a research group to China to conduct field research related to climate change, June 9-30. Seven SRU faculty are leading more than 60 students on various study abroad trips this summer.

May 25, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The walls of the lecture hall will meet the Great Wall of China this summer when a group of Slippery Rock University students explore the East Asian continent as part of a faculty-led, study abroad trip.

The venture is one of five such excursions, with University groups also visiting France, Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Canada and Japan.

Jack Livingston and Xianfeng Chen, associate professors of geography, geology and the environment, are leading the China-bound contingent, a research group headed to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, June 9-30, to conduct field research related to climate change.

The group is the first selected from SRU as part of the ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows Program, which is a program funded by the Freeman Foundation that supports undergraduate projects in East and Southeast Asia. SRU was one nine institutions that received grants from ASIANetwork as part of the 2016 program and will be one of eight schools in the program taking trips this summer.

In addition to Livingston and Chen, the SRU team consists of six students, including:

-Autumn Mohler, a freshman environmental geoscience major from Marysville, Ohio.
-Josh Paluh, a freshman geography major from Waterford.
-Trevor Chambers, a senior environmental geoscience major from Garrettsville, Ohio.
-Luke Sherer, a junior environment geoscience major from Pittsburgh.
-Nick Orbash, a junior geography major from Washington.
-Victoria Yeager, a senior geography major from Patton.

The ASIANetwork grant includes $39,000 to cover the costs of the trip and to gain access to a task satellite that will capture imagery from space that is concurrent with the data the group will gather from the field so that they will be able to see in near real-time how vegetation is changing with the seasons in arid areas and the slopes of grasslands leading up to glaciers.

"It's about how we can more accurately or rapidly assess climate change in these sensitive areas," Livingston said. "Deserts and grasslands are areas that are going to be impacted very quickly by climate change."

The group will visit six field collection sites in the westernmost region of China, spanning more than 500 miles. They will also participate in several walking tours and visit the Great Wall of China while in Beijing.

"A lot of things will be going on during our three week visit," Livingston said. "They'll be working in an area where very few Americans get to work. It's exciting in that respect."

The program with the largest group of students is already underway, as Tom Sparrow, assistant professor of philosophy, and Rich Findler, professor of philosophy, are leading 30 philosophy and political science majors from the SRU Honors Program on a European tour dubbed "The Philosophy of Art." From May 14-28, the students are visiting Barcelona, Spain; Arles and Paris, France; and Amsterdam, where they will visit a variety of art museums, including the Joan Miró Foundation and the Picasso, Louvre and Van Gogh museums, to name a few.

Melissa Teodoro, associate professor of dance, is taking eight students to Cartagena, Colombia, June 8-16, to assist her research of Afro-Colombian dance. The group will work closely with local choreographers and dance students of the Universidad de Cartagena. Additionally, Teodoro will take two students to the Asia Pacific Dance Festival, July 25-Aug. 7 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the students will share their experience in a lecture-demonstration during the fall 2017 semester.

Timothy Oldakowski, associate professor of English, is accompanying 12 students to Ontario, Canada, June 26-July 1 for the Stratford Festival, one of the most prominent arts festivals in Canada known for its productions of Shakespearean plays.

Yukako Ishimaru, instructor of modern languages and cultures, will lead five SRU students to Japan, July 5-18, as part of SRU's cultural immersion partnership with Saga University, in which students from each institution learn the languages and cultures of the other's country through first-hand experiences.

It total, more than 60 students will travel to "global classrooms" this summer, bringing back valuable experiences.

"Through research and community integration, the students are connecting the experiences from these trips with what they are learning in the classrooms," said Jenny Kawata, SRU's director of global exchanges and partnerships.

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