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Students Study Modern Mind in London, Paris
Ariel Smith
Staff Writer

January Session is not something that all schools offer, but Manchester University is one of those few that does. This January Session was punctuated by tea and croissants for two professors as they took their students to England and France. For religion and philosophy professor Steve Naragon and physics professor Gregory Clark and their student group, London and Paris were the places to be as the studied the “Making of the Modern Mind.”

This class was a little bit of science and philosophy mixed together while learning about the development of western civilization. The class broadened its understanding of the progress and change of how individuals and societies thought of themselves. Naragon emerged from his current leave to take part. For instance, museums held a lot of artifacts that students could look at to determine the development of their use. Students also looked at the development through the ages of four different themes. Some examples Clark gave were of the idea of astronomy or—for those that have more of a passion for fashion— the shoe. He mentioned that the Museum of London had shoes that were 800 years old that the students could use as part of their study of development by comparing them to modern footwear.

Clark also spoke of teaching the students how to travel frugally. “One of the things we wanted our students to learn from this is that really the big expense is getting there,” Clark said. “Once you’re there you can eat pretty cheaply if you know where to go.” They stayed in hostels, one week in Paris and one week in London. The prices for one night at a hostel were similar to accommodations for someone in the United States.

The weather was also similar to what MU was experiencing back in the States. While the temperature was in the teens in Indiana, it was only up to about the thirties in Europe. “North of France was just hit with snow the whole time we were there,” Clark said. “That slows things down, more than they’re used to. We couldn’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.”

This was Clark’s second time teaching the class. The course work was very similar this year from the first trip, though he said that this time it had been “fine-tuned,” and a little more structured. He hopes to keep the class going every other year. On the off years he teaches other classes during January Session as well. “Making of the Modern Mind” fulfills a core class requirement for Cultural Connections and more information is available for anyone interested in this class the next time it is offered.

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