On Wednesday, Oct.18, Keene State College held its first ever “Open College” event, where students and members of the community were allowed to sit in and listen to various KSC faculty teach a lesson from one of their classes for 90 minutes.
History Professor Dr. Nick Germana came up with the idea, suggesting it to KSC Interim President Melinda Treadwell, KSC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs William Seigh and a couple of people in the Continuing Education Program, and from there, the idea took off.
Continuing Education Program Coordinator Lorie Rogers stated in an e-mail that when Germana shared his idea for the new program, they loved the concept. “Continuing Education’s role was to support Professor Germana and the other professors, bring awareness to the new program, advertise the presentations and help in any way possible,” Rogers stated.
To reach out to the community, Rogers stated that the office did much of it electronically, as they coordinate with many programs and were able to reach out to a number of audiences. She stated they e-mailed local business people, area teachers, the Cheshire Academy for Lifelong Learning (CALL) program, students and the campus community.
“Our electronic messages had a very high open rate, with more than 3,300 clicks,” Rogers stated prior to the event. “This is very encouraging, so I’m anticipating a well-attended, interesting and educational evening for students, staff and community members.”
After the event, Rogers stated she was “pleased with the turnout and pleased to see a high level of audience engagement.”
According to Rogers, they welcomed about 60 people, including about nine KSC students and many CALL members.
When explaining what his purpose was for the Open College program, Germana said, “I thought it would be nice to do something that would bring people in from the community to see what we do and, in particular, to see what faculty here at Keene State do.”
Germana said he feels there are a lot of people outside of the campus community who really don’t know what goes on in college classrooms and that some try to create a certain image of college students and professors. He wanted to bring people in and “invite them to participate in the conversation, rather than it being sort of this inside versus outside kind of mentality.”
Germana not only came up with the idea of the Open College program, he also gave the first presentation for this event titled, Weimar and the Rise of Hitler: Nazi Electoral Successes, 1923-1932. When it came down to what Germana wanted to teach, Germana picked his topic because he said he thought it is particularly relevant right now.
“What I’m going to talk about is kind of the rise of the Nazi’s in the 1920s [and] second half of the 20s,” Germana explained. “…They were an alternative radical group to the established Conservative political parties, and so I think at this moment in the United States and Europe as well, we see the emergence of these ultra-nationalists and so called ‘alt-right’ political movements.”
Germana also took parts of his presentation from of his classes that he teaches at KSC. This was the idea behind the event– Germana wanted faculty to use materials they already had prepared so it would not be a lot of extra work. This way, community members would have a real experience of a class the way faculty teach it at KSC on a normal school day.
KSC sophomore and Holocaust and genocide studies major Kalia Matthews was among the audience on Wednesday night.
Matthews attended the event out of pure interest and said she wanted to hear what Germana had to say, as well as see if she could base it off of anything she had learned in class. She said his presentation took on a political viewpoint, rather focusing simply on the history of the Holocaust.
Matthews said, “He brought up a lot of different viewpoints about the Holocaust, whether it could happen again or not, which is definitely scary.”
When asked whether she would attend another Open College event, Matthews said she would be willing to go again.
“It’s cool to see students interacting with people in the community, especially older adults because they bring different opinions versus what we’re learning now,” Matthews said.
The next presentation entitled Air Quality in Keene by Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Nora Traviss will be taking place in Rhodes Hall, Room S203 on Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 6:00-7:30 p.m..
Grace Pecci can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org