Some state residents may take the Connecticut River for granted, but not the students in American Landscapes: The Connecticut River Valley, an honors course taught by Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward.
This semester, four students at the Greater Hartford Campus enrolled in this interdisciplinary course, which is designed to promote critical thinking and deep learning experiences for students early in their honors experience. The honors class is a first for the regional campus.
Taught by Woodward, an associate professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the class is similar to an American Studies honors core course he has taught in Storrs, but with a significant twist.
“We had a small group of four students here [at the Greater Hartford campus] and that gave us the opportunity to actually experience being out on the water,” Woodward says. “It’s one thing to talk about a river; it’s another thing entirely to talk about it after you’ve been out on it.”
On one of their excursions, the class paddled kayaks from the Farmington River in Windsor – Connecticut’s oldest English settlement, founded in 1633 – down to the Bissell Bridge, which connects the towns of Windsor and South Windsor.
“When you’re out on the water, you get a visceral connection with the river that you can’t get looking at pictures or even standing on the bank,” Woodward notes. “I think that for the students, actually experiencing the place made this a different course for them from that point on.”
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By Sheila Foran