In June of this year, I spent two weeks in Concord, MA as a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar attending the Transcendentalism Institute.
Highlights of the Institute included visits to Walden Pond and the site of Thoreau’s cabin, the homes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott, the Black Heritage Trail in Boston, industrial revolution sites in Lowell, and archival libraries in Boston and Concord.
Check out the Massasoit Commons to learn more about my participation in the program, and my responses to some questions about the Institute are below.
What inspired you to apply?
I believe the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars and Institutes are unparalleled in their depth, breadth, and quality of experience as professional development for college faculty. I was looking for an enriching summer professional development experience and the NEH Transcendentalism Institute in Concord had previously been recommended to me. NEH Summer Institutes are tuition-free, and I encourage any interested faculty at Massasoit and other Massachusetts Community Colleges to apply!
How long did the Institute last, how many participants, from public and private, two and four-year institutions?
The Institute was two weeks long and there were 24 participants who are instructors from a range of institutions across the country including public, private, two and four-year institutions.
What did you gain from it?
I gained an awareness that commitment to the environment, social justice, and human rights in Massachusetts and America stems, in part, from the progressive thinking of individuals in Concord and Boston in the 1800’s.
I have a deeper appreciation for the importance of place-based learning and helping students find their own “Walden” in terms of local stewardship.
I’ve also brought a new focus on the great American tradition of journaling to my teaching of writing in First Year Composition and developmental writing courses.
What are you teaching this fall? English Composition 102, Shakespeare, and Reading and Writing Seminar. I also look forward to teaching two sections of American Literature this spring.