If hearing live jazz in New Orleans, enjoying a behind-the-scenes look at Broadway or getting the lay of the land of a Civil War battlefield is for you, Alumni College and Educational Escapades can offer those experiences and much more.
The two programs, sponsored by the Northwestern Alumni Association, are the latest additions to current alumni travel offerings. These off-campus extended weekend trips add intellectual challenge to the travel itinerary by bringing faculty and alumni together to delve into specific topics. Both programs include four days in a particular locale and immersion in the local culture.
Next month the NAA kicks off the updated Alumni College with a trip to Fredericksburg, Va., where participants will tour Civil War battlefields, including Chancellorsville and Spotsylvania. Alumni and faculty will also engage in discussions and lectures on the issues leading to the war, the logistics of particular battles and the role women played during the era.
David Zarefsky (S68, GS69, 74), former dean of the School of Speech and an expert on the Lincoln-Douglas debates, will focus on Lincoln's wartime speeches. Carolyn DeSwarte Gifford (WCAS69, G71, 75), a visiting scholar in the gender studies program, and Laurence Schiller (G82), head fencing coach and adjunct professor of history, also will be on the trip. Schiller participates in Civil War re-enactments and will analyze the military tactics employed during the bloody clashes. "You can read about a battle," he said, "but until you see the terrain, it's not going to make much sense."
Jay Mastin, associate director for alumni travel and education programs in the alumni relations department, said the expertise University faculty members bring to the trips makes for a more meaningful experience: "What's exciting is how these faculty members challenge travelers to see a topic in a new light. This kind of discovery really extends the Northwestern experience."
From 1983 to 1999, Alumni College, run by the former University College, was offered as a weeklong educational program of lectures and discussions held mainly on the Evanston campus. With the transformation of University College into the School of Continuing Studies, Alumni College is now offered through the NAA.
For those alumni seeking a more casual approach to travel and education, Mastin recommends the Educational Escapade trips. Faculty are also on these excursions, but the program is more loosely structured to give travelers opportunities to explore a location on their own.
Last winter alumni made two escapade trips. The first was a New Orleans jazz trip and the other a Broadway adventure in New York City. Each one offered alumni up close and personal encounters they could only receive through their Northwestern faculty connections.
On the New Orleans trip alumni went to local jazz clubs. In addition to learning the history and structure of jazz, they sat in on a jam session that included Antonio García, trombonist and associate professor of performance studies, who has performed with Phil Collins, Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé. They also met legendary jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, father of musicians Wynton and Branford Marsalis.
During the Broadway escapade, Dominic Missimi, director of Northwestern's music theater program, not only set the stage for the performances by Northwestern alumni Craig Bierko (S86), Heather Headley (S97) and Penny Fuller (S59), he also personally introduced them to these and other Broadway stars. "For us that was priceless," said Sam Sperry (McC65), who made the New York trip with his son Bill (S96). "I'd never had that kind of wonderful experience. It's something I'll always treasure."
For more information about Alumni College and Educational Escapades,
check out the Web site at www.alumni.northwestern.edu
and click on the education and travel link.