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Innovative Month courses make the world a classroom

Photos above are from Dr. Kozak's Uganda/Tanzania trip and Dr. Walls' Cruise Industry trip.

Photos above are from Dr. Kozak's Uganda/Tanzania 2010 trip (courtesy of Dr. Kozak) and Dr. Walls' 2011 Cruise Industry trip (courtesy of student Holli Hipwell).

Why study about the cruise industry in a land-locked classroom when you can experience it at sea on board a cruise ship?

Why try to learn about French language and culture in Colorado when you can immerse yourself in both in France?

Why dream about someday helping people in need when you can make real change right now in Africa?

"We feel it is entirely necessary to actually experience things rather than just read about them in a text book," says Simon Walls, Business professor and Faculty Lead on the "Cruise Line Industry Innovative Month."

"I am sure you would agree that's the way to learn!" he adds.

Walls' Innovative Month experience offers two course options -- "Marketing and Tourism in the Cruising Industry" and "Topics in Economics: Cruise Industry" -- both of which include a nine-day stay aboard the cruise ship Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas. The vessel has its own rock climbing wall, inline skating, ice skating, spa, pools, and more. Not a bad classroom.

Innovative Month courses are faculty-created and faculty-driven Summer courses that include in-the-field exploration and application of the course's material. The goal is to provide students opportunities for affordable travel with a group of their peers, while immersed in unique and meaningful itineraries, topics, and experiences.

Anthropology professor David Kozak's students will travel far from the Fort Lewis College campus in many ways. The students in his "Ethiopia to Tanzania: Culture and Environmental Action" Innovative Month course will experience traditional African life up close and personal during home stays in remote tribal villages, offering students irreplaceable chances to practice ethnographic fieldwork techniques. Students will also visit villages threatened by a dam project, and meet and work with international volunteer and humanitarian organizations.

"It's these types of real-world encounters that give meaning to students' work," says Kozak. "It's one thing to study concepts in the abstract in a classroom and quite another to see it on the ground. Especially unfamiliar foreign ground, where students are exposed to things that challenge their perceptions of the world, of other people and cultures. It encourages them to examine their own lives in terms of what they are experiencing and learning."

Innovative Month Courses offered this Summer include:

  • "Costa Rica," with Dr. Simon Walls. Students will study global business and issues in Costa Rica while visiting San Jose, national parks and biological reserves, and traveling to the ocean, a volcano, and one of the most beautiful rivers on Earth.
  • "France through Art & Philosophy," with Dr. Justin McBrayer and Paul Booth. Students will travel the country while examining the history, geography, politics, economics, language, social systems, and culture of France. The trip also includes a week-long stay in Paris.
  • "Business of Gaming in Las Vegas," with Dr. Ken Hunt. Student will learn about the gaming industry, then tour Las Vegas, where they'll study the history of the city and see first-hand the importance of gaming as a business and tourist attraction.
  • "Cuba and the Dominican Republic," with Dr. Catalina Aguilar and Dr. Suzanne Wilhelm. Students will explore these two island nations while improving their Spanish, exploring Latin American myths, legends, and stories, and examining international business and economics.
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