Not Your Average Classroom

This story is featured in the Fall 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s College of Art and Design provides experiential learning opportunities to develop life skills


The College of Arts and Science’s innovative approach to learning keeps students active and involved. 

As the world moves faster, students must be able to learn and adjust quickly, ready not only to keep pace but to set the pace.

HPU’s David R. Hayworth College of Arts and Sciences is on the forefront of ensuring just that by involving students in developing skills that translate beyond their classroom walls.

“Liberal arts education at HPU is very much an active and vibrant experience,” says Dr. Carole Stoneking, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s more than lectures and memorization. Professional skills like collaboration, communication, critical thinking and cultural awareness are layered in, so students develop them without knowing it.”

Professors do this by incorporating role-playing, international travel and service learning into their classes.


Bringing History to Life

It’s Athens, Greece, in 404 B.C. Do you fight to save the world’s first democracy, or does your social status allow you to participate?

Dr. Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne’s Western Civilization class grapples with these and other deep questions while reenacting the ancient society. Students are assigned a character to embody as they debate and negotiate a problem of historical significance. For these students, it’s the Spartan invasion. In other classes, it’s American independence or the Cherokee relocation.

Arthur-Montagne, a history professor at HPU, and other faculty use games like these in their classes. She says students are surprised at how much influence they can have while “rewriting history.”

“I recall a student who described herself as terrified of public speaking,” says Arthur-Montagne. “She never spoke during our traditional classroom discussions, but when she mounted the podium in character, she blew the room away with her attitude and confidence.” 

Students connect personally with the course content. Carson Spering, a senior nonprofit and leadership management major, played Alexander Hamilton in his American Politics course. This motivated him to dive into the reading.

“Everyone was very involved and passionate,” says Spering. “Preparing for class was fun, and it helped with understanding and remembering the content.”


Global Experiences

While some classes revisit historical moments, others visit another part of the world. Short-term study abroad trips led by faculty expose students to new people, languages and cultures.

HPU biology students swim with sea turtles, hike the Amazon rainforest and bake bread with indigenous families in Ecuador and the Galapagos. Religion majors study Judaism and Christianity in Israel at sites such as the Dead Sea, Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and the Temple Mount.

“I left with a deeper understanding of complex religious, political and social issues, and a deeper respect and empathy for people in this place,” says sophomore Sarah Wilson, who studied in Israel.

In China, students practice their Mandarin language skills.

“It was an amazing opportunity to increase our proficiency through constant use with one another and locals,” says senior Griff Caligiuri. “We also learned a lot about the Chinese culture, including the subcultures within Beijing and Shanghai.”


Leading Through Service

Students also see the real-world impact of their coursework through service learning classes that support the community.

Dr. Paul Ringel’s History Detectives class collected oral histories from graduates of a high school that served black students until desegregation. They contributed hundreds of hours of research and launched an online archive of artifacts called the William Penn Project.

“Instead of being students of history, we were historians,” says Justin Cummings, a 2016 HPU graduate. “I learned valuable interviewing and research skills and discovered a new field of history I didn’t know existed.”

It’s about more than memorization. Students form opinions, gain experience and apply what they’ve learned.

“The greatest teachers of ancient history invited students to apply knowledge in a tangible way,” says Arthur-Montagne. “What really helps us interpret and master material is the opportunity to try it in practice.”


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