New CentreTerm course examines Abe Lincoln in his own words and on location
RELEASED: January 24, 2008
CentreTerm, the College's distinctive three-week January term, allows professors and students the opportunity to delve deeper into a niche subject related to their academic field. Stroup seized the opportunity to gain a little insight into the man who is widely regarded as America's greatest leader on the eve of Lincoln's bicentennial birth year.
Stroup finds a great deal of meaning to be garnered from Lincoln's own words. "In his Gettysburg Address he restates and redefines the fundamental values first articulated in the Declaration of Independence. He transforms the American presidency and the American political system as a whole, so much that historians talk about the Civil War as the 'second American Revolution,'" Stroup says.
It's one thing to read and debate Lincoln's words in the classroom; it's another to visit the scenes of Lincoln's life in person. CentreTerm often includes travel as part of its compressed, three-week schedule.
Amy Dorsch, a first-year student from Fort Mitchell, Ky., describes the museum as the highlight of her visit. "I liked that [the museum] didn't simply try to sell the myth of Lincoln. Instead, it showed the controversy that surrounded him during his lifetime and that he was not always glorified as he is today."
Field trips such as these profoundly influence the way students perceive academic material—in this case, transforming a legendary icon of Americana to a man who walked the same streets as they did on a frosty morning in Springfield.
Grant Sharp, a first-year student from Russell Springs, Ky., says, "Before the trip, Lincoln still felt very distant, even after hours of study. Walking the same streets and climbing the same stairs that our 16th president climbed helped turn our studies into reality."
Stroup agrees with his students and adds, "I think that our trip increased our understanding of Lincoln more than our knowledge of him."
As a capstone discussion, the students debated whether Lincoln was more of a man of Kentucky, the state of his birth, or of Illinois, where he practiced law and eventually left for the White House. While the discussion continues, Sharp offered the following opinion: "Lincoln's story of being born of the frontier and working his way to the presidency embodies the true American experience. I say he belongs to neither Kentucky nor Illinois; Lincoln was simply an American."
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