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First All-Benton Dinner of the Year

By mkeller on September 3, 2014

The Benton Scholars program kicked off the new school year last Thursday with an All-Benton Dinner at Alana Cultural Center. Members from all class years attended this event, along with members from the greater Colgate community, including Peter Tschirhart, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Scholars Program; Professor Karen Harpp, Benton Scholars Faculty Director; Dean Kim Germain from the Office of Fellowships; Kara Bingham from the Office of Off-Campus Study; Thad Mantaro from the Shaw Wellness Institute; and Michael Sciola, Director of Career Services.

Attendees from the All-Benton Dinner

Attendees from the All-Benton Dinner

All-Benton Dinners are well attended, giving students a chance to meet the new class of Benton Scholars and reconnect with other students returning from semesters abroad.

Professor Karen Harpp discusses with students

Professor Karen Harpp discusses the upcoming year.

Members of all class years interact with one another

Members of all class years interact with one another

Dinner Time!

Dinner Time!

Dinner Discussions

Dinner Discussions

 


Benton Summer Project, 2014: Revisted

By Peter Tschirhart on September 1, 2014

Predictions are everywhere: online education, and MOOCs specifically, will reconfigure the 21st century university. For some analysts, change is positive, even liberating, because it promises to reduce costs while increasing access to higher education. For others, it is worthy of concern. While digital classrooms seem transformational, they might also consolidate the production of new knowledge, or commoditize face-to-face human interactions.

But many such conversations take for granted the insight and opinions of the very people most likely to encounter change: students themselves. To remedy this scotoma, the Benton Scholars identified a group of fourteen students who expressed interest in taking an online class during the summer of 2014. Participation was voluntary, no Colgate course credit was granted, all students had to register their interest in advance (and have their course proposal approved by a team of faculty and staff), and their time and insights were compensated modestly with a small stipend. After completing their course, students were asked to provide a brief written response as a way to reflect both on the delivery of content (as it compared to a more conventional class) and on the experience of taking classes online: What was it like? Did you feel a sense of community? Did you interact with faculty and learn from other students? Would you do it again?

From the outset, students articulated diverse reasons for participating. Some were curious about the course material, while others wanted to learn new technical skills, especially computer programming. Several even hoped to shore-up previously acquired knowledge or to prepare for an upcoming class at Colgate. In the end, however, our results stood apart from many MOOC statistics. A disproportionate number of our students, over 85%, ultimately completed their course — compared to a MOOC completion rate estimated at under 7%. (This number can perhaps be explained by the incentive structure built into our project and the high level of motivation among Benton Scholars generally.) Additionally, 93% of our participants were domestic students — contrasted with early data suggesting 74% of MOOC students register from abroad.

Over the next several days, we will begin to publish post-project reflections written by Benton Scholars. Indeed, as we prepare to host an Online Education Symposium during the fall of 2014, we hope these voices will serve as a provisional trace of the student experience while simultaneously grounding an informed discussion about MOOCs and the future of academe.


Welcome, Class of 2018!

By Peter Tschirhart on August 25, 2014
Class of 2018 Benton Scholars visit Letchworth State Park near Mt. Morris, NY during Benton Scholars Orientation, 2014.

Class of 2018 Benton Scholars visit Letchworth State Park (near Mt. Morris, NY) during Benton Scholars Orientation, 2014.


From “Korea” to “Corea:” Hannah O’Malley and the ’17 Benton trip

By Peter Tschirhart on August 11, 2014

Hannah O’Malley ’17 has created a blog to chronicle, contemplate, and process her experience on the Benton Scholars’ trip to Korea. Apart from explaining why the country’s name might be spelled “Corea” rather than “Korea,” Hannah encourages us to view travel through a self-critical lens. She writes :

I think it easy to notice and criticize flaws in and make generalizations about other systems without really critically looking back at one’s own system. Over the course of the trip, I tried very hard to think about ways in which we pretty much have the same, or worse, flaws in the US and about what the US can learn from Korea.

She also poses a series of questions inspired by Prof. John Palmer‘s FSEM for the Benton Scholars (fall of 2014):

  • In what ways can the US education system learn from the national curriculum that applies to both public and private schools?
  • How would the US benefit from rigor of the cram schools?
  • Given that K-12 education in both South Korea and the US is driven in part by the university systems in both countries, in what ways might colleges be able to manipulate testing or entrance standards to influence the ways in which K-12 students learn?
  • How can both countries make higher education more accessible and a less elite system?
  • Is there corruption, whether manifest or latent, in our educational system? And if so, where?
  • Who does our educational system serve?

You can see and read much more directly on Hannah’s blog by clicking here.


Benton Scholars in Korea: Hannah O’Malley ’17

By Peter Tschirhart on July 9, 2014

Hannah O’Malley ’17 provides the following pictures and captions from the Benton Scholars’ trip to South Korea.


Colgate hasn't been around nearly as long as Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was completed in 1395.

Colgate hasn’t been around nearly as long as Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was completed in 1395.

Rice farms, like this one in the Hahoe Village, covered the countryside. Even though it is a relatively small country, the South Korean landscape includes mountains, cityscapes, rural expanses and seasides.

Rice farms, like this one in the Hahoe Village, covered the countryside. Even though it is a relatively small country, the South Korean landscape includes mountains, cityscapes, rural expanses and seasides.

Though media outlets may have stopped coverage of the Ferry Accident, homages like this one demonstrated that the memories of the children live on in the hearts of South Koreans.

Though media outlets may have stopped coverage of the Ferry Accident, homages like this one demonstrated that the memories of the children live on in the hearts of South Koreans.

“Named spaces bear witness to history and provide a glimpse into the future.” -John Syme The Sungnyemun Gate was erected in 1398 and embodies significant history—it has been repeatedly repaired after damage by natural causes, colonial rule, the Korean War, and a more recent attempt to burn the structure. Today, it is a national treasure of Seoul that speaks to South Corea’s resilience, an attitude which is behind its push to be a global power.

“Named spaces bear witness to history and provide a glimpse into the future.” -John Syme The Sungnyemun Gate was erected in 1398 and embodies significant history—it has been repeatedly repaired after damage by natural causes, colonial rule, the Korean War, and a more recent attempt to burn the structure. Today, it is a national treasure of Seoul that speaks to South Corea’s resilience, an attitude which is behind its push to be a global power.

It was election season while we were there so political campaigns were everywhere, especially in the more residential areas.

It was election season while we were there so political campaigns were everywhere, especially in the more residential areas.

We had the opportunity to visit an all-boys private middle school and speak to them about their educational experience. Our conversations with the students there sparked reflection and debate about both South Korea's and our own educational system.

We had the opportunity to visit an all-boys private middle school and speak to them about their educational experience. Our conversations with the students there sparked reflection and debate about both South Korea’s and our own educational system. Thank you so much to Dan Benton, Professor John Palmer, Woolim Cho, Peter Tschirhart, Sarah Ficken and the many others who made this experience and continue to make experiences like this possible!!


Benton Scholars in Korea: Brittney Dorow ’17

By Peter Tschirhart on June 23, 2014

Brittney Dorow ’17 recently returned from the Benton Scholars’ trip to South Korea. In this reflection, she discusses her youthful fascination with Asian cultures and her more recent interest in the vibrant mixture of “old and new” in contemporary Korean cityscapes–an interest that has lead her to the International Relations program at Colgate.


Growing up as a young girl with two brothers was a blessing.

I lived a life essentially free from gender. Yes, I was a female who loved dresses and tea parties and dress up dolls, but I was not limited to exploring one side of a culture many find to be split by sex. I played with cars, liked to wrestle and mess around, and I was equally as pleased to get the Pokemon Card as I was the Polly Pocket toy with my Happy Meal.

I think the greatest thing that came about being raised so openly centered on film and television.

One of my fondest memories was coming home from school on Friday’s to find my brothers down in the basement and a Japanese monster movie plugged in the VHS. I grew up watching these foreign films, moving from Godzilla movies with the boys, to dramatic and adventurous anime as I entered my teen years.

Overtime, my love for Asian culture developed. Entering into high school, it was safe to say I was obsessed. Watching anime and Korean Dramas with my friends while I picked at my meal with a pair of plastic chopsticks, I allowed myself to fall in love with it all, the people, the food, the fashion and so on.

More than anything else, I was enamored with the Asian city. Particularly in anime and film, I became fascinated with urban structure, a melting pot which combined the urban landscape of New York with the culture of traditional life. When I first discovered I could travel to Korea, I saw the perfect opportunity to finally see for myself if the culture I’d grown to idolize had been portrayed accurately or not.

A street market in South Korea.

A street market in South Korea.

I am happy to say, it had.

My picture shows one of the first markets we the Bentons explored in South Korea. Even from a glance, you can see the blending of new and old culture which I had hoped to find on this trip.

Tall industrialized buildings lit up with electric lights and neon signs.

Inside, traditional fans, bowls, street foods and cloth are sold.

Overall, I was not disappointed, but rather, in awe of the cultural phenomenon that is an Asian city, particularly a marketplace. I found a place of acceptance, of peaceful cultural blending, and well a preservation.

Most importantly, seeing a place like this reminded me why I love the study of culture and how I truly want to pursue my major in International Relations. I want to fall in love with all the cultures of the world, and feel this amazement for the rest of my life.


Benton Scholars in Korea: Ishir Dutta ’17

By Peter Tschirhart on June 13, 2014

The following pictures and captions by Ishir Dutta ’17 continue our coverage of the Benton Scholars’ trip to Korea. Stay tuned for more posts in the coming days.


Click the image below to launch a slideshow:

"It's the East Sea, not the Sea of Japan!" - Prof. Palmer

“It’s the East Sea, not the Sea of Japan!” – Prof. Palmer

In a place closer to home (At Namsan Tower)

In a place closer to home (At Namsan Tower)

...and my other home. (At Insadong)

…and my other home. (At Insadong)

Even amid the frenzy, we found calm.

Even amid the frenzy, we found calm.


Benton Scholars in Korea: Andrew Isaacson ’17

By Peter Tschirhart on June 12, 2014

Our blog series on the recent Benton Scholars trip to South Korea continues with pictures and captions provided by Andrew Isaacson ’17.


Seoul, South Korea: a city and country hidden in the mountains.

Seoul, South Korea: a city and country hidden in the mountains.

What does your garden look like? -Deoksugung palace gardens.

What does your garden look like? -Deoksugung palace gardens.

When I asked Joe Chacra '17 what he wanted to do with our free day, he replied, "let's get lost." And so we did, ending our expedition at the Seoul National Cemetery.

When I asked Joe Chacra ’17 what he wanted to do with our free day, he replied, “let’s get lost.” And so we did, ending our expedition at the Seoul National Cemetery.

 

 


Benton Scholars in Korea: Zachary Weaver ’17

By Peter Tschirhart on June 10, 2014

The following text and pictures were provided by Zachary Weaver ’17, who recently returned from the Benton Scholars’ trip to South Korea. Their journey was lead by John Palmer, Assoc. Professor of Educational Studies and Chair of the Educational Studies Department.


'17 Benton Scholars gather for a picture following a performance of traditional Korean dance.

’17 Benton Scholars gather for a picture following a performance of traditional Korean dance.

South Korea was easily the best trip I have ever been on. I can’t really compare it to anything else. Everything, from the culture to what the places we visited, allowed all the Bentons who went on this trip to really experience what South Korea was like, rather than just getting a voyeuristic view that is ever so common on shorter trips. It’s kind of hard to find a place to start.

A sewer grate in Seoul

A sewer grate in Seoul

The food was fantastic. Before leaving, I was worried about whether or not I would be able to find something that I could eat easily. I need not have been so worried. The food you can get in South Korea is delicious, comes in large quantities, and is cheap. You could easily find bulgogi (marinated beef that you often cook at the table) that probably feed at least 3 people for around $5 US Dollars. Often, we were able to find something for everybody (even with allergies accounted for) for a fraction of the price that we would have paid in the US, and with a lot more food as well. One thing about Korean food is that it isn’t based around one dish like it is in the US. Whereas in the US you would order a burger and fries and that would be you meal, in Korea you might order bibimbap (rice with various vegetables in a hot stone bowl, where you mix a raw egg in to cook before eating), but in addition you would get little dishes of sauces, vegetables, and never ending kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage) for the table.

One of our last meals in Korea

One of our last meals in Korea

Our trip through South Korea was a whirlwind of activity. We saw so many things and visited so many places; I would forget everything we did if not for the pictures. From the palaces in Seoul to a traditional folk village in the south of the nation, we really went everywhere. Thanks to Prof. John Palmer of the Ed. Studies department, we were able to see a Korea that many of us wouldn’t see if we had just gone there on our own. Ask anyone who went on the trip, and I’m sure you will see that all of us had the time of our lives in Korea.

'17 Benton Scholars Zachary Weaver and Ishir Dutta stand for a picture in front of the Blue House, the residence of the President of South Korea.

’17 Benton Scholars Zachary Weaver and Ishir Dutta stand for a picture in front of the Blue House, the residence of the President of South Korea.


Benton Scholars visit WCNY

By Peter Tschirhart on May 12, 2014
Benton Scholars and staff on the set of WCNY's "Ivory Tower."

Benton Scholars and staff on the set of WCNY’s “Ivory Tower.”

A small group of Benton Scholars and Colgate staff visited the studios of local PBS affiliate WCNY last Friday, May 9, 2014. Students attended a taping of The Ivory Tower, a weekly political and current events round-table featuring a panel of local academics, hosted by David Rubin, Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and featuring Tim Byrnes, current Faculty Director of the Benton Scholars.

Following Nicholas Kristof’s recent critique of academia’s apparent insularity, students in the Benton Program saw first-hand how scholars from a variety of backgrounds could gather to discuss local issues in an engaging and public forum. They also received a behind-the-scenes tour of television broadcast operations at WCNY’s stunning LEED Platinum facilities–including sound stages, meeting rooms, and the broadcast control and editing room.

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