“Finding Your Place,” a new program offered to incoming freshmen, is in full swing on campus and in the surrounding areas. The program comprises both a full-credit course, Discovering a Sense of Place—Upon and Beyond the Domain, and co-curricular activities led by Student Life. With goals of enhancing the first-year experience and helping students feel at home at Sewanee more quickly, it is a rigorous program of academic, social and geographical exploration led by seven faculty members.
The seven course sections offer 106 new students the opportunity for quintessential Sewanee experiences much earlier in their college careers than usual. In their first week on campus, these students might walk the cemetery with Gerald Smith, visit the Highlander Folk School with Jim Peterman, or hike the Mountain Goat trail with Deb McGrath or Shakerag Hollow with Bran Potter. They have met the merchants of downtown Sewanee and learned the history of the buildings there, and will engage in community service with MountainTOP, the Cumberland Plateau’s “Tennessee Outreach Project.” (Below, Jimmy Wilson, C'73, talks to students at the Blue Chair Cafe.)
In a story about the program in Inside Higher Ed, Jennifer R. Keup, director of the University of South Carolina’s National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, called Finding Your Place “the next generation” of first-year programs.
The course work in Discovering a Sense of Place will require the skills of reflective writing, close reading and synthetic thinking. The sections are Your Place, or Mine?: The Tension of Place in Narrative and Story-telling (taught by Virginia Craighill); Here and There, Now and Then (Chris McDonough); The Mountain Goat Trail: a Journey in Community Health (Deb McGrath); Honor and Justice (Jim Peterman); Walking in Place (Bran Potter); The Seen and the Unseen: Maps, Memory, and Our Common Life in Sewanee (Gerald Smith); and A Landscape for Memory (John Willis).
All of these experiences will help students find their own places as well as their places in the community—of Sewanee and of other communities in the future.
(Left, the first plenary session in Convocation Hall.)