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150 students added world travel to J-Term studies

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Kelsey Davies at the Parthenon

James Lohrey’s class visited Dublin to research a documentary about the Sisters of Mercy. Dyan Jones’ students are visiting CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, home of the world’s largest particle accelerators. And Tom Cook’s students helped to assure a safe water supply for residents of Puerto Rico.

These are just some of the nearly 150 Mercyhurst University students whose J-term courses added world travel to their classroom work, gaining both hands-on experience and a broader global perspective.

Mercyhurst classes headed to six overseas destinations this month. Many of the groups combined students from multiple disciplines who studied a single location from different viewpoints.

For example, 16 students traveled to Peru. Several of them studied video storytelling with graphic design instructor Pete Stadtmueller while exploring locales like Macchu Picchu and the Amazon rainforest. At the same time, Heidi Hosey-McGurk’s students studied Peruvian culture, tying the original Inca migration through the rediscovery of Macchu Picchu by Hiram Bingham in 1911 to contemporary treks of the Inca trail. Three public health students also joined the Peru travel group. They correlated their onsite observations with research on maternal health in the developing world.

Lohrey’s students researched and interviewed individuals associated with the Mercy International Center in Dublin. The photos and video footage they gathered will be included in a film about the connection between Mercyhurst University and its founding order’s Irish origins. Other Irish travelers were in psychology Professor Matt Weaver’s class. They were immersed in Irish culture to introduce them to cultural psychology, learing how culture and psychology interact and comparing Irish culture to their own North American culture.

Many J-term classes incorporated significant service to the locations they visited. Twenty students joined Cook and Director of Community Engagement Colin Hurley in Puerto Rico. They worked with agencies in San Juan, exploring eight communities along a contaminated canal that poses major health risks during floods. Students also worked to build rain gardens at two elementary schools as part of larger efforts to limit flooding of the canal and restore natural vegetation to prevent excessive runoff.

Laura Lewis also led a service trip to Guyana. And, though they weren’t taking a class, several students in the graduate program in physician assistant studies spent a week of J-term on a medical mission trip to Zambrano, Honduras, with the Amor Sin Fronteras (Love without Borders) Ministry. They provided preventative, acute and chronic care to more than 500 patients of all ages who have limited access to medical care.

Travel destinations during J-term 2016 included:

Ireland: Video Production Documenting Ireland’s Mercy Tradition, James Lohrey, communication; Psychology and the World Today, Matthew Weaver, psychology.

Germany and Switzerland: Presidential Physics, Dyan Jones, physics; Science and Democracy in Germany and Switzerland, Tibor Solymosi, philosophy.

Italy and Greece: Restless Ground Geology, Nicholas Lang, geology; Religion, Sexual Ethics and Social Order: Case Studies in Greece and Italy, Richard McCarty, religious studies; Philosophical Foundations, James Snyder, philosophy.

Peru: GoPro Filming and Editing, Peter Stadtmueller, graphic design; Peru Culture and Narrative, Heidi Hosey-McGurk, English.

Guyana: Society, Culture and Service Learning, Laura Lewis, sociology

Puerto Rico: Focus on Puerto Rico, Public Health and Medicine, Thomas Cook, public health.