Fort Ticonderoga as a “Learning Campus”

The term “campus” usually brings forth visions of sprawling college buildings clustered around a quad. There’s a constant bustle of activity as professors, undergraduates, and graduate scurry from place to place. Campuses promote education by providing an environment conducive to learning.

Learning Campus

Over the past six years, we’ve been looking at the Ticonderoga peninsula as a “learning campus.” This has been a deliberate attempt to think of the historic buildings, the expansive landscape, the gardens, and the Lake Champlain shoreline as learning resources, much like the science building and the library make up the components of a college campus. Our learning campus promotes our mission to “ensure that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history.”

Our mission says “learn from,” not “learn about.” This is intentional. History is not just to be studied in the past tense. It’s to be “learned from” in the present tense.

Learning from history is an on-going endeavor here at Fort Ticonderoga. This summer we are offering a number of opportunities for teachers from around the country to spend a week on our learning campus and immerse themselves in the rich history of the Ticonderoga peninsula.

NEH Teachers workshopWe are delighted to be offering two week-long NEH Landmarks of American History & Culture Workshops for School Teachers this summer. This is the fourth year we’ve successfully applied to host these workshops. In “The American Revolution on the Northern Frontier: Fort Ticonderoga and the Road to Saratoga,” teachers will delve into the early years of the American Revolution as they unfolded at Fort Ticonderoga and the surrounding region. They’ll have the opportunity to work with well-known scholars as they explore the roles of various groups in the Revolution.

Among the scholars is Holly Mayer, from Duquesne University, who will discuss the role of women during the Revolution with one week’s participants. Holly is the author of Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution, a landmark work in combating decades-old stereotypes. Holly’s current research involves the often overlooked Canadians who enlisted in the Continental Army during the invasion of Canada in 1775-76 and remained with the army after the invasion’s failure.

A complete listing of our NEH Visiting Scholars can be found on our website at this link: http://www.fortticonderoga.org/education/neh/staff-scholars. Through these NEH workshops we’ve developed some great long-term relationships with many of these scholars and I look forward to working with them this summer.

Participation in the NEH Landmarks Workshops is open through a competitive application process. The application window is now open—applications are due by March 1, 2016. You can learn more about the workshops and how to apply here: http://www.fortticonderoga.org/education/neh.

large_11542042101529857139890332136359328390890937nAlso for teachers this summer is our Fourth Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute. This year’s Institute focuses on “British Perspectives on the American Revolution.” A group of twelve teachers from across the country will spend one week learning about the American Revolution from the point of view of the British soldiers, the Loyalists, and the German allies. Teachers will also participate in a series of experiences designed to immerse them in the 18th-century history of Fort Ticonderoga. Teacher Institute participants will work with original documents and objects in our collection and spend time creating innovative projects incorporating multiple disciplines, including history, geography, ELA, math, and science. Developing an environment of collegiality, we hope to create a model learning experience for educators that will be replicated in their classrooms.

Like the NEH Landmarks Workshops, participation in the Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute is open through a competitive application process. We are accepting applications now; applications are due April 15, 2016. You can learn more here: http://www.fortticonderoga.org/education/educators/teacher-institute.

large_Cathrine-with-streaksWe also offer a unique learning experience for graduate students through the Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowships. We launched this program last summer with four students from Stonybrook University, Texas State University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Western Michigan University. These fellows spent two months working at Fort Ticonderoga, one each in Collections, Education, Exhibitions, and Interpretation. Each fellow helped lay the ground work for programs and exhibitions that will be part of our 2016 season focused on the year 1777.

This year’s fellowships will run from June 13-August 12, 2016. Fort Ticonderoga seeks graduate students in museum studies, museum education, public history, history, American studies, or military history. Interns will need to be self-motivated and able to work independently as well as contribute to a dedicated team to create and develop ground-breaking exhibitions and programs for a diverse audience. Qualified undergraduates are welcome to apply.

Each year Fort Ticonderoga’s interpretation focuses on a specific year in the site’s multi-layered history. Internships in 2016 will focus on the year 1757 in preparation for exhibitions, programs, and educational initiatives to be offered to the public in 2017. While the Horticulture Fellowship will also focus in part on 1757, the Horticulture Fellow’s focus will be broader.

large_Matt-S.-with-Alec-in-Collections-StorageInterns during the summer of 2016 will focus their research and creative energy to support exhibitions and programs related to the year 1757 at Fort Ticonderoga. While working individually with their project supervisors, interns will also meet and work together throughout the two month experience. They will have an opportunity to work with Fort Ticonderoga’s professional staff as part of our team-approach to all major projects. Professional development opportunities during the internships will include visits from outside scholars and field trips to related sites. In general, project-specific work will encompass about 50% of the intern’s time. The remaining half will be taken up with day-to-day tasks in their department, providing a wide-ranging experience working at a historic site.

Each Graduate Fellow will receive a $2,500 stipend plus housing. Fort Ticonderoga’s Black Watch House for Fellows is located within walking distance of both the Thompson-Pell Research Center and the main grounds of Fort Ticonderoga.

Know of a graduate student who might benefit from spending two months at Fort Ticonderoga this summer? Encourage them to check out the details at: http://www.fortticonderoga.org/education/university-partnerships.

This just begins to scratch the surface when it comes to using the Ticonderoga peninsula as a learning campus. Stay tuned!

Rich Strum

Director of Education

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