|Centre professor tells students to take a hike
RELEASED: Jan. 23, 2003
DANVILLE, KYWhile some students are huddled in classrooms trying to stay out of the January wind, language professor Ken Keffer and his CentreTerm class are braving cold and snow to unite the worlds of philosophy and the local environment.
In his "Art of Walking" course, Keffer, the class of 17 freshmen and an occasional guest or four-legged companion have traveled to sites in Danville, as well as surrounding natural settings such as Raven Run, the Pinnacles near Berea and the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge.
"Today we walked to the Cracker Barrel for breakfast," Keffer said. "We were 20 strong. It was nine degrees, not too bad."
The outings follow a morning meeting and discussion of writings on art and beauty by the German Idealist philosophers Kant, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Students then reflect on the descriptions provided by the philosophers while engaged in the ancient tradition of walking, hiking and pilgrimage.
Keffer, who walks to work each day, describes the experience as "practically inexistent nowadays," but it's "key to any sort of physical and spiritual recovery. The two must go together."
A total of 15 outings are planned for the three-week CentreTerm. One member of the group, Sarah Harrison of Tompkinsville, Ky., said her favorite walk so far was a three-and-a-half mile trek in the Pinnacles near Berea.
"It was beautiful," she said. "I hope they bring the class back next year for the freshmen," she added. "I love it."
The professor's favorite: the Palisades of the Kentucky River where the oldest rock formations in the Commonwealth can be seen.
"You can see the hand of nature cutting through the rock," Keffer said. "It's natural art versus human art."
Keffer is a professor of modern languages at Centre, where he has taught since 1979. Keffer received Centre's "Rookie of the Year Award" in his first year at Centre and in 1988 received the David Hughes Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Keffer holds a bachelor's degree in French and English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a master's and doctorate in romance languages from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The final walk will involve a journey to an art museum in either Bloomington or Cincinnati to view works by man instead of nature. The last day of class is Jan. 27.
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