Students Eye NYC in Study Abroad Course

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A dozen UT Arlington students will spend the spring semester exploring a foreign land just one time zone away.

Beginning in January, the Department of Theatre Arts and the Honors College will work together to provide a “study-abroad-at-home” course about New York City, allowing students to explore the historical, cultural and global impact of the largest city in the U.S.

“We’re going to look at the history and sociology of New York,” said Associate Professor Dennis Maher (Theatre Arts). “We’ll review the gang history, New York etiquette, vocabulary and cuisine. New York City is a time machine… and students will be able to navigate through the city and look into the past.”

The genesis for the unique study abroad course came from Dr. Karl Petruso, dean of the Honors College and a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. While the Honors College and UT Arlington offer students numerous opportunities to study abroad, many students could not afford to spend a semester in a foreign country due to family or financial commitments. As is the case with Honors study abroad programs, the Honors College will subsidize all participants (both Honors and non-Honors students) to make the trip affordable.

“I have wanted to pilot a ‘study-abroad-at-home’ program for more than a decade, and am delighted that Professor Maher will direct what I hope will be the first of many such courses,” said Petruso. “My long-term goal is to solicit proposals from faculty in other departments and units for courses that can benefit from an off-campus trip during spring break anywhere in the country.”

Maher said New York is one of the few American cities that can offer students a unique experience and a robust knowledge of art, drama, fashion, politics and society.

“Only in New York City can you get on the subway, go to the Lower East Side, and travel through 400 years of history in one train ride,” Maher said. “There are so many unusual things to do and see.”

Students will spend most of their time in Arlington, studying the history of New York City – from its beginnings as a trading outpost in the 16th century to present day. During spring break (March 10-14), students will travel to the city and take in such sights as Times Square, Wall Street, the World Trade Center memorial, the Brooklyn Bridge, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Maher said students will see at least three Broadway shows and spend much of their time on walking tours organized by a local tour company that specializes in New York theatre district tours.

“For our theatre majors, some of whom have been to New York City as a tourist or have never been there, I don’t think the trip will discourage them,” he said. “There’s no more exciting place to live. There’s also no more difficult place to live.”

Maher said he hopes to connect with UT Arlington alumni living and working in NYC and have them give the student group a firsthand glimpse into the life of the city.

“This will be a valuable experience for our students,” he said. “I can’t think of another place in this country where you can go and get so much in one visit. Between the fish markets and fashion district, the financial district and outlying boroughs… this will be a great experience.”

For more on the course and trip, visit http://www.uta.edu/honors/abroad/NYC2014/.

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