Proposed May Term trips look promising

by Allison LaneStaff Writer

With the spring semester almost over, the Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee is already planning out the May Term travel courses for next year.

All of the trips so far are just proposals and will need to be approved by a faculty vote in a few weeks. The EPCC’s objective is to have the decisions made before students leave for the summer so they can plan accordingly if they need to save up money for a trip.

“The goal is to have it decided so that students can make plans for their break,” Professor of Theatre Steve McLean said. “The expectation is that the courses will be on the Web site for review by students.”

Previously, the short few weeks of class occurred during a January interim. The May Term program and trips have been around, however, for quite a while now.

McLean is in his 16th year at Simpson and believes the program was well established, even before he began his tenure.

The proposed trips for next spring represent a wide variety of places around the globe with studies in numerous fields. Keeping in mind these are only proposals at this point, Simpson could have students next spring studying the effects of globalization in Costa Rica, speaking French in French Polynesia, observing politics in Brazil and exploring the world of natural science in Madagascar.

International Education Coordinator Jay Wilkinson believes that the future of the program looks promising.

“I think the immediate future for May Term travel courses looks very good with the very interesting proposals for next year,” Wilkinson said.

McLean also agrees that the May Term program outlook does appear to hold some promise.

“There’s been a lot of debate but I personally don’t see faculty scrapping May Term, even with all its challenges,” McLean said. “It offers a unique schedule that allows certain things to happen that otherwise couldn’t.”

One major benefit of the travel courses offered is that they gives students a realistic chance to travel somewhere beyond the borders of the U.S.

Mark Gammon, assistant professor of religion, believes traveling abroad can expand a student’s perspective on the outside world.

“An important part of education at this point is experiencing other cultures, and if we are able to offer this, we should do so,” Gammon said. “I can teach students about the Trojan War, but it’s another thing to stand on the beach and be able to point to Troy.”

Gammon will be leading a group of students this May Term on a trip to Turkey and Greece. They will tour the biblical world and visit some of the places where the apostle Paul traveled. The group will also see the actual sites where some of the most well known Biblical stories occurred.

The travel courses count toward Cornerstone 7 and generally are accompanied by a single-credit course in the spring semester in preparation for the trip. Gammon notes that the college also profits from having its students spend time studying abroad.

“The more students can experience other cultures and ideas, the more they can bring back to the classrooms,” Gammon said. “The more experience you have, the more you have to say, the more wisdom you gain, and the more you have to think about.”