Students get real-world education at Global Leadership Academy
June 13, 2013 By Mariel Smith
on a hike at the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge as part of his
course, "The Global Environment," at GLA 2013.
Centre College President John Roush speaks with
GLA 2013 students on what it means to be an effective leader.
When interested high school students signed up for Centre's Global Leadership Academy (GLA), they probably did not plan on traveling to a monastery, a hydroelectric power plant, or a giant underground cave. Nonetheless, this is precisely where GLA students will be going in the next few days.
As a way of reinforcing and exemplifying concepts learned in the classroom, GLA faculty and students will visit a diverse array of locations across the Commonwealth.
Assistant Professor of Religion Lee Jefferson will be leading a trip to the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Bardstown, Ky., stopping at the Sisters of Loretto Convent in Loretto, Ky., on the way. The following day, students will travel to a Louisville synagogue, and next week Jefferson will take students to the Islamic Center of Lexington.
The trip to Gethsemani dovetails with the reading Jefferson's students will complete on Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk at Gethsemani who wrote extensively on meditation, spirituality and solitude. Jefferson chose to study his unique philosophy because it showcases the great diversity of thought within the Christian tradition.
In addition, "Both Gethsemani and the Convent's example emphasize the importance of the natural world and stewardship of creation," Jefferson says. "The sisters of Loretto planted tens of thousands of young trees and are very active in ecological awareness."
This particular trip blends religion and ecology in a way that helps students make connections between various disciplines, much as they would at a liberal arts college.
The trip to the Islamic Center of Lexington will be eye opening for many students as well.
"While we have one Muslim GLA student, most of them have never been exposed to Islam," Jefferson explains. "This experience will show them the diversity that exists right here within the Commonwealth and the importance of understanding religious diversity in a global context."
During the second week of GLA, Assistant Professor of Biology Matthew Klooster will lead a trip to the Harrodsburg, Ky., Mother Ann Lee hydroelectric power plant, followed by a visit to Mammoth Cave. Other destinations include a Stanford, Ky., landfill and the Danville recycling center.
"These trips are a vital component of experiential learning," says Klooster. "Sometimes the only way for a concept to really sink in is to go out and experience it firsthand. What students learn in the classroom often remains abstract to them until they see it in action."
Klooster looks forward to touring the active landfill with students.
"This is a chance for them to apply general concepts to specific, real-world case studies," he says. "It provides a real-world context for how each of us affects our shared environment."
The group will also travel to the showroom of world-renowned glassblower and H.W. Stodghill Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Art Stephen Rolfe Powell. On the final day of GLA, the group will visit the grounds of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Ky.
Associate Dean and Director of Residence Life Sarah Scott Hall teaches "Leadership and Problem Solving" at GLA and sees the incredible educational opportunities each destination offers.
"These trips are built to educate and increase awareness about global environment, community, and diversity," she says. "Many of the destinations are examples of solutions to big problems. For instance, the hydroelectric power plant is a great example of an answer to the issue of how to create sustainable energy.
"Mammoth Cave is more complicated," she adds. "There are areas where preservation techniques are working really well, and others where they aren't working so well."
For Jefferson, the experiential element of the GLA curriculum motivates students to ask questions and critically assess problems—two skills that are invaluable to a successful college experience.
"The capstone assignments we've given them involve working with a group of other students to propose a solution to a global problem such as human trafficking, climate change or world hunger," Jefferson explains.
"This assignment combined with all of the college-level reading exposes students to the fundamentals of the liberal arts classroom and prepares them for success in higher education," he says.
For more information on the Global Leadership Academy, click here.
Centre College, founded in 1819, is a nationally ranked liberal arts college in Danville, Ky. Centre hosted its second Vice Presidential Debate on 10.11.12, and remains the smallest college in the smallest town ever to host a general election debate. For more, click here.