Throughout the semester CR9 meets to discuss the practical components of preparing for Cultural Routes and the pedagogical goals / processes. To benefit wholly from CR, students need the correct lens—they need to understand what they are looking for and how to approach it. They need to see the purpose and seriousness of our work.
This afternoon we met to discuss city-as-text pedagogy, a “downside-up” approach to learning that requires students to influence and to participate in all levels of the experience. More specifically, city-as-text learning treats a city as book that is to be mapped, observed, listened to, and used as a mirror to understand our own preconceived notions. Through intense collaboration, students work to understand the puzzle of each city. Through integrative learning, students will comprehend the behaviors and mental qualities that shape each city in unique ways. They will ask and work together to answer questions like:
- How does memorial culture in Berlin respond to the city’s past? Do mental barriers result from this memorial culture?
- Why are Berlin and Munich so different and how did their responses to the WWII reconstruction, as well as geography, shape those differences?
- How do these cities either respond to historical violence or choose to minimize it?
- How do the towns in Cinque Terra position themselves in relation to larger Italian cities and how does a unique terrain help them define / protect themselves both historically and in the future?
- What does the Rome / Vatican City relationship look like in an Italy where everyday Catholicism is changing significantly?
- How do people interact with each city, and what do these interactions say about culture, recreation, art, values, and traditions?
In addition to this learning, students work with CR alumni in the meetings to better understand the CR experience, to hear discussions of what alumni would have done differently, and to soak up advice ranging from packing in a manageable bag to handling exhaustion to trusting the CR system.
In the photo below, students picked a cookie not knowing they were choosing their next blog assignment. Look for their blogs in the near future.