4/20/2014 7:46:26 PM

Local History, National Impact

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

By Mary Barrett '14

Many of us have heard the famous song about the Erie Canal, but now first-year Siena College students can say they’ve also seen it firsthand. Professor of Quantitative Business Analysis and Computer Science Jim Nolan ’75, Ph.D. and Professor of Computer Science Tim Lederman, Ph.D. led students in their First-Year Seminar classes on a journey to the canal to bring the region’s history to life.

Local history and its national or international impact is one of the themes covered in the First-Year Seminar course. Nolan and Lederman’s classes will focus on four events throughout the course of the year. This semester they discussed two events in particular, the Erie Canal and the Battle of Saratoga.

During a weekend field trip, students saw the Erie Canal in its original and current forms. They saw the locks and observed how the boats were raised and lowered. “Prior to this trip, the canal was just a distant concept to me,” said Victoria Becotte ’17. “Seeing parts of it helped me better visualize how it would have been in the 1800s and helped me realize how important it was for the entire country.”

The trip originally included a visit to the Saratoga National Historical Park, but due to the government shutdown it was closed. Instead, the two classes visited Peebles Island, a state park where the American soldiers were encamped before the Battle of Saratoga. At Peebles Island, tour guide and Siena College graduate James Hughto ’76 discussed the Battle of Saratoga and students were able to see some of the weapons that were used.

“There is no question that being there and seeing it rather than just reading it from a book, or discussing it, enhances your understanding of it,” said Nolan.

The trip provided students with a deeper understanding of how the region’s history impacted the formation of the country. It also made students realize that, thanks to Siena’s location, these landmarks are nearby and easily accessible.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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