NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.– After restructuring the Honors Program curriculum upon being named director in 2014, Dr. Bethany Hicok realized that the mind is best developed when students take what they learned in the classroom into the world. Therefore, she teamed up with Dr. David Goldberg to give the program a worldly touch by creating an honors course that concluded with a trip to Greece.
“When I took over as director of the honors program in 2014, I started the process of making a new curriculum,” Hicok said. “And at the center of that we wanted to establish a more global dimension to the program because that’s kind of where national programs are going.”
The course focused on the ancient Greek world and ideas of justice during the Bronze Age recounted in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Students also studied the teachings of Socrates and Plato and famous archeological sites in Ancient Greece.
The honors students spent the spring semester learning about the histories and features of different archeological sites in Greece and then were given the opportunity to witness them for themselves.
“We visit the main archeological sites that have been important in our reading,” Hicok said. “At the end of the course, the students do group projects where they do research on the archeological sites we’ll be visiting. When we go to Greece, we work with the Athens Center, and they design a trip around our syllabus.”
On the trip, the students visited famous archeological sites such as the Acropolis, Mycenae, Delphi and the Temple of Hera among a variety of art museums and galleries.
This was the first year that Hicok implemented the travel course as part of the Honors Program. Goldberg originally established it as study abroad class at the previous school he taught. Eventually, he brought the class curriculum to Westminster where it originated as a cluster course that was open to all students.
The benefits of travel complemented by academic studies was evident to the course directors.
“After having done this for 20 years and watching the change in students,” Goldberg said. “It’s amazing—the change that occurs. Students tend to mature. They tend to become more self-confident. They learn to do things on their own.”
Goldberg and Hicok hope to see the trip evolve as the curriculum is implemented and more trips are taken. In the future, Goldberg hopes to alternate trips to Greece and Italy. Nonetheless, the Honors Program will continue to take students abroad as they are shaped by new knowledge of different cultures.
Written by Megan Simpson