On-line education is currently a hotly debated topic now in the higher education circles that I frequent. It is not that people doubt the technology, rather the controversy evolves around the extent to which it should be incorporated into the collegiate experience. As an example of the extent of the controversy, the president of the University of Virginia recently lost her job. Part of UVA’s board’s reasoning was that she was too slow in incorporating online learning. (The other part, from what I can tell, is that she was dragging her feet about killing the Classics and German departments.) (UPDATE: President Sullivan has been reinstated. You can read more about the controversy here.)

Online education is here to stay, and those of us in higher education are going to have deal with it. I will be amused to see, however, how many of the children of proponents of the online only institutions actually “send” their children there.

Enough of that rant. I am really thankful that I work at an institution that is as supportive of education in all of its forms as Emory. An example of one of the many guises of education is how my colleague Bonna Wescoat brings a new team of students to Samothrace summer after summer and guides their field experience. Here is a picture of the most formal part of this educational experience:

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This picture was taken at the start of the tour of the site, and we are sitting in the block field for the Propylon of Ptolemy II. The Propylon is the point of entry for initiates into the sacred cult that conducted its rites here. Bonna is on the far left, placing the building in the context of a map of the site. There are three Emory students here (third, fourth, and fifth students from the right), as well as students from Princeton and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Now these students can sit at their computers in the comfort of their homes in NYC or ATL and learn about the process of initiation, but NOTHING will replace the experience of being in this place.

One of the major things that these students will be working on this summer is the precinct that housed the famous statue, Nike, aka The Winged Victory of Samothrace. She sits atop the Daru staircase in the Louvre Museum in Paris, as seen in this picture:

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Here is a closer view:

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The statue was discovered here in the 19th century by French archaeologists and shipped back to Paris. The arms and head are missing, although a hand was discovered here in the 1950’s which was reunited with a finger later found in a drawer of an Austrian museum. The hand is also on display in the Louvre.

Speaking of education, the members of my department, students and faculty alike, all received departmental T-shirts. Our charge was to take them along on our travels and be photographed in them. So here is my picture, in which I answer the charge about the T-shirt, and pose as the Nike. This is taken in the precinct where the French found the statue.

More tomorrow!

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