Fall Honors Trip Maximizes Learning Opportunities in Williamsburg, Va.

Meredith College Honors students recently spent a weekend of learning in Williamsburg, Va., during the Fall 2013 Honors Trip. Thirty-six students and nine faculty members took part in this year’s program, which was planned by a student committee.

Honors Program Director Brent Pitts said the Honors trip provides students with the opportunity to “learn together while exploring a new locale, having fun, and making friendships among Honors students.”

Honors trips are an opportunity for students to study the “city as text.”

“It's hands-on, up-close learning about culture, history, literature and science,” said Pitts. “They can visit the places they are learning about, and they can talk to guides, interpreters and others who know the sites inside-out.”

Students were able to choose from eight mini-courses taught by Meredith faculty members in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.

The location in Williamsburg lent itself to a wide-range of topics, including a fashion course on colonial women’s clothing, a look at amusement park physics, and a comparison of mental health treatment in colonial times and present day. The mini-courses met for two sessions on Friday and Saturday, and students presented to the full group on Sunday.

Lindsey Wilcox, ’14, who served on the planning committee, took a mini-course on courting and relationships that was taught by Assistant Professor of Sociology Amie Hess. “We learned about John and Abigail Adams and the letters they wrote to each other,” Wilcox said. “Also, we read tweets about relationships now. It was interesting to compare John and Abigail's love letters to tweets from celebrities.”

Jessica Williford, ’15, took the mini-course on colonial fashion. “We learned about how a ‘proper’ colonial woman would have dressed and compared this to ways that other classes would have dressed,” said Williford. “In addition, we talked about how fashion evolved over the different time periods, and the aspects of colonial fashion that we still have in our clothes today.”

Williford, like other Honors trip participants, appreciated the opportunity to explore a topic in-depth, and get to know a faculty member outside of class. Because of the students’ interest in the topic, mini-course instructor Diane Ellis, professor of fashion, went with the group window shopping in Williamsburg.

“We went from store to store until we found one that sold colonial dresses,” Williford said.  “We each picked out a dress, sash, and hat, and then had a photo shoot in the store. Afterwards, we toured Williamsburg together.  This was such a wonderful bonding experience, and it was so much fun to make new friends.”

Junior Emily Hanline, co-chair of the planning committee, said the opportunity to visit Williamsburg’s historic sites with faculty was educational, even for students who had been there before.

“Going with a professor provides students with the opportunity to learn something that is not just written on a plaque outside of a building,” Hanline said. “I really hope that the students who went developed closer bonds to their Honors peers, gained confidence from their presentations, and knowledge from their mini-course.”

Learn more about Meredith’s Honors Program

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