Photo by Jonathan Walz

Progressive Education and Practical Innovation

Field Studies Create Digital Content

According to Robert Vander Poppen, assistant professor of classical art and archaeology, well-known archaeological sites in Pompeii are incredibly difficult to identify and learn about—both from an archeologist’s and tourist’s perspective—because there’s a lack of information onsite. “You could be standing in the midst of an incredible archaeological site like the early palace complex at Poggio Civitate in Tuscany and literally see only shrubs and dirt,” Vander Poppen said. “With little if any signage, you need access to data to interpret these kinds of experiences.”

With that in mind, he and Jonathan Walz, assistant professor of anthropology and archaeology, led a team of nine Rollins students on a field-study course in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, where they captured images and used 3-D software tools like Google SketchUp to construct realistic models of sites where ancient buildings once stood.

The collection of visuals and information is being used to create an interactive, open-source blog. The eventual goal is to allow tourists access to it from their smartphones, so they can take a virtually guided tour as they walk through the remains of the ancient buildings in Pompeii. In addition, the tool will enable professors and students to learn more about these sites in a classroom setting. Dubbed the “Pausanias Project,” after a Greek traveler and writer who lived in the 2nd century AD, this collaborative resource tool will eventually incorporate visual, textual, and audio data related to archaeology sites of cultural significance from all over the world.

Photo by Roxanne Bates

Photo by Roxeanne Bates '13

Project Mosaic Offers Multicultural and Interdisciplinary Approach to Learning

Since taking charge of the Africa and African-American Studies (AAAS) program in 2007, Associate Professor of History Julian Chambliss has been interested in finding new ways to stimulate discussions about race and ethnicity on campus. Last year, one of his initiatives worked to do just that.

Developed by Chambliss and funded through an Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Mellon Faculty Renewal Grant, Project Mosaic maximizes exploration of African and African-American cultures in a wide array of academic disciplines from art and education to anthropology and history. “The goal is to make Project Mosaic a recurring AAAS activity that incorporates new thematic foci with rotating faculty participation,” Chambliss said.

During the 2010-11 academic year, the interdisciplinary project focused on the life, work, and hometown of Zora Neale Hurston. Located two miles from the Rollins campus, Eatonville boasts the oldest incorporated African-American community in the United States. For Chambliss, the proximity to Rollins made it easier for students to link a local minority subject to the wider socio-cultural experience.

“Eatonville represents an aspirational and inspirational community that served as a platform for African-American agency after the Civil War and Reconstruction,” Chambliss explained. “Created in the midst of uncertain social, political, and economic times, the town and its residents believed in their ability to create a life. Those lessons shaped Hurston and others who grew up in the midst of Jim Crow segregation while striving for success in the wider world.”

As a result, Project Mosaic provided students with the opportunity to learn more about the local community while expanding learning outside of the classroom.