A labyrinth on the University of Southern Indiana quadrangle in front of the Liberal Arts Center symbolizes USI’s stewardship of New Harmony. A St. Louis-based designer created the labyrinth, said to be the largest brick-paved labyrinth ever built in the Chartres design. It is modeled after the famous granite Cathedral Labyrinth on North Street in New Harmony.
A unique historic site in Indiana, New Harmony was founded by a German religious group, the Rappites or Harmonists, then bought by entrepreneur Robert Owen in 1825. Having experimented with innovative ideas on education and industry in New Lanark, Scotland, Owen sought to establish a utopian society at New Harmony. He and William McClure led a group of scientists and philosophers, known as the “Boatload of Knowledge,” to the new settlement.
Fast forward to the 21st century: Historic New Harmony today offers a variety of occasions for student and faculty engagement, advancing USI’s strategic goal of enhancing experiential learning opportunities. It is one of many special initiatives created by the College of Liberal Arts.
International Internships link southern Indiana with the world
USI and Historic New Harmony hosted a visit by Jane Masters and Anysley Gough from New Lanark World Heritage Site in October 2011. A USI summer internship with the world heritage site is an outcome of that visit. The internship will provide opportunities for USI students to gain a better understanding of global issues and challenges that impact the world.
=New Lanark is now a restored 18th century cotton mill village in southern Scotland. Less than an hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow, this cultural heritage destination welcomes thousands of visitors each year. (More at www.newlanark.org.)
Catherine Carver is the USI student intern selected for the summer workshop to begin May 10 and continue through June 22. Carver will help develop a public search room to support access to New Lanark’s collection of photographs, maps, drawings, and documents. This work will connect the New Lanark collection to the collections housed at USI’s Rice Library and in New Harmony.
Faculty mentor Kristalyn Shefveland, assistant professor of history, will travel to Scotland for two weeks of the internship to develop a project with the intern. The internship also may include audience research, on-site and digital interpretation, and development of educational material.
Under the auspices of USI’s Global Engagement Internship Program, the New Lanark internship plus two additional internships to Ghana, India, or China will be available. Global Engagement interns will later present their experiences at USI’s Global Engagement Forum and other venues.
Archaeology Field School delves into New Harmony
An archaeology field school, planned for May 9 to June 8, 2012, will be at the Harmonist kiln site, located at the corner of North and West streets in New Harmony. The Harmonist potter Christoph Weber manufactured redware pottery for the Harmonists at this site. His pottery was for sale to the public through the Harmonist store. The kiln was in operation from 1815 to 1824.
The focus of the field school will be on exposing more of the kiln itself and exploring some deposits of waster sherds (piles of discarded pottery fragments that were under or overfired). Students located one of the fireboxes in 2010. Between 10 and 12 students will be excavating this summer. The field school director is Michael Strezewski, assistant professor of anthropology.
Historic Southern Indiana offers workshops for teachers
Another USI program, Historic Southern Indiana (HSI), focuses on community outreach. A leader in public history, HSI works with museums and historic sites across southern Indiana with the goal of creating a sense of regional identity and pride and promoting such venues as Vincennes, Corydon, Madison and Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home, among others.
Leslie Townsend directs Historic Southern Indiana, which maintains a lively Facebook page.
HSI has also hosted a series of workshops for K-12 teachers over the years, many of which have received Indiana Humanities grant funding. On Oct. 2, 2012, HSI will partner with Indiana’s Historic Pathways, a National Scenic Byway, to present a workshop on early roads, canals, covered bridges, the Buffalo Trace, and the Underground Railroad. The workshop, entitled “Getting from Here to There: The Story of Southern Indiana’s Transportation Routes,” is aimed at third and fourth grade teachers. Teachers will receive a kit with items pertaining to the history of the byway which can be used in hands-on classroom projects.
Center for Social Justice Education at USI takes on social issues through partnerships
A visual media contest to depict a contemporary issue relating to social justice will be sponsored during the spring semester by the Center for Social Justice Education at the University of Southern Indiana.
The center resides in the Department of Social Work in the College of Liberal Arts at USI. The center provides a visible point of contact for social service agencies to the University of Southern Indiana. It assists such agencies in meeting the objectives of federal funding streams issuing stimulus dollars for social services and educates future social workers.
The center promotes critical thinking and a systems perspective across agencies, institutes, departments, and individuals to pursue social change for the well being of all individuals. Working closely with other academic programs on campus, the center looks for alternative approaches to strengthen helping systems and society.
The center, which is making external connections in southwestern Indiana, partnered with the Veterans for Peace to bring guest speakers to campus to address the use of military drones in warfare. In another program, Reverend Gerald Arnold, president of the NAACP in Evansville, discussed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophies in a lecture.
The center’s objectives relate to education, research, and service to the university and the community. The center’s web site is http://www.usi.edu/libarts/socialwork/csje.asp.
Special thanks to Dean Michael Aakhus, College of Liberal Arts, and Kathy W. Funke, Director, News and Information Services at the University of Southern Indiana, for their assistance with this Spotlight.