Courses Intertwine to Shape Perspective and Future

February 01, 2017

Haley Jo Cutrone '19

Haley Jo Cutrone ’19 reflects on her off-campus experience as a first year and the part it played in shaping her future course of study.

The first time I realized that the Global Learning Program (GLP) course I was taking might truly reshape my Grinnell experience was in February 2016, about a month into the program. It was a Monday afternoon, and class had just concluded for the day. I was walking back to my dorm, discussing what we’d talked about in class with one of my peers, when I laughingly realized that our homework for Wednesday meant that I would be reading the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen three times in one week. I had already read it for one of my other classes, History 100: European Revolutions, and would be re-reading it for that same class on Wednesday, in addition to reading it for GLP now as well.

After my peer peeled off in the direction of their own dorm, I continued to think about the connection between my two classes that I had just discovered. As I re-read the Declaration for history that night, I considered not reading it for GLP, since I was already familiar with the text, but I decided that I should, just in case the GLP document was slightly different from the one I was using for history. As it turned out, that was in fact the case – the GLP version of the Declaration provided a different explanation of the text than the one for history. I used that new information to inform my perspective in my history class on Wednesday morning, and my history discussion from earlier in the day to, in turn, inform my perspective in my GLP class. As I left GLP class that evening and headed back to my dorm, I was filled with the knowledge that my classes were not disparate, as they had seemed at times during my first semester, but could and did interact with and shape one another.

As the semester wore on, these connections continued to appear between my history and GLP classes; they complemented each other. At times, my history class would provide a deeper background into an event we were examining in GLP, or the document I read for history would be the same as the one we were reading in GLP, but with different excerpts, so that the different chunks of text would help me to piece together a new opinion for both classes. Other times, it was the material in my GLP class that would shape my history course, such as learning about the desecration of cemeteries by the radical Jacobins during the French Revolution driving my interest in monuments and the French Revolution, which ultimately became my final research project for history that semester.

In my mind, these two classes became intertwined, and when I declare History with a concentration in European Studies as a second year student, these two classes will be the reason why. Over the course of the GLP, I found that I am incredibly interested in studying contemporary issues of tolerance, especially as they relate to migration and multiculturalism. Due to the European focus of the course, I am particularly interested in how European nations express or fail to express tolerance towards migrants, refugees, and people of varying religious faiths. To understand those expressions, however, you must first look at the history of those nations, and understand how they arrived at the political and cultural views that, consciously or not, shape the actions of both politicians and everyday citizens towards those they perceive to be different. The modern actions of the European nations could not exist without the history of those nations. As a result, I am going to declare and follow a path of study here at Grinnell that will allow me to examine both Europe and its history.

My choice of Off-Campus Study program was also informed by this pairing. I hope to go to Northern Ireland, a country that has very prominent experiences with learning how to practice tolerance. I hope that the program will offer me a chance to examine a European perspective on the issue in even more depth than I was able to achieve while traveling for the Global Learning Program.

As I look forward to the next two and a half years here at Grinnell, and the curriculum I have chosen to pursue, I find myself incredibly excited for future classes. It’s a wonderful feeling, and one I owe to my amazing experience with the Global Learning Program.

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