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Place as Text Committee
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Place as Text Committee

Committee Co-Chairs:

Alix Fink, Longwood University
Sara Quay, Endicott University




Committee Charge

The Place as Text Committee shall:

  1. Continue to develop, in cooperation with co-sponsoring bodies, semester-long academic experiential programs for honors students, drawing on the unique traits of the place in which the semester is located.
  2. Fulfill the following responsibilities during the development and implementations of Honors Semesters:
    1. Seek appropriate themes, sites, and personnel to ensure a high quality experience.
    2. Consult regularly with potential organizers of semester sites about sites and evaluation of the experiences;
    3. Evaluate semester proposals and make recommendations to the Board of Directors;
    4. Consult on contractual arrangements between NCHC and the cooperating body regarding such items as student fees, tuition, and scholarships; housing; faculty salaries; office supplies, secretarial help, etc.;
    5. Communicate with institutions about directors, faculty, and curricula;
    6. Appoint committees in a timely fashion to select participants for Honors Semesters;
    7. Visit sites of semesters while they are in progress;
    8. Designate the method and personnel for the final evaluation;
    9. Use information gathered from evaluators to improve future semesters;
    10. Publish guidelines covering what is expected for a potential semesters program;
    11. Communicate results of semester(s) to the members of NCHC;
    12. Pursue further alliances with professional organizations that have expertise in aspects of the Honors Semester project; and
    13. Provide consulting services to institutions seeking to design their own projects based on the Honors Semester format.
  3. Contribute to NCHC publications information or articles of interest to the membership on honors semesters and experiential learning.
  4. Design and conduct Faculty Institutes, as convenient to the Committee calendar, on the architecture of City as Text™ and/or Semesters that utilize structured explorations as an integrative seminar for site-specific learning, on assessment issues for experiential learning, and on reflective analysis in field-based learning strategies.
  5. Provide a written annual report to the Board of Directors summarizing the results of the previous year’s activities and the financial status of the project.
  6. Work to meet the goals and objectives of NCHC’s Mission Statement.  {October 2012}

About Place as Text

NCHC’s Place as Text Committee has generated more than twenty full Semesters that feature experiential learning through a combination of interrelated courses integrated by a focus on the specific setting of each project. Semesters are offered regularly to invite Honors students nationally into a learning experience away from their own campus to sites abroad and in the United States. Students earn transferable college credit as they combine field studies, research, internships, seminars, and a living-learning immersion that taps the resources of a Semester’s location as it builds a community of inquiry.

The Place as Text Committee also sponsors Faculty Institutes. These Institutes provide professional development opportunities for faculty interested in understanding the underlying design and assessment principles of this form of active learning The Institutes are exercises in site-specific, place-based learning, and offer workshops to participants who want to design adaptations of NCHC’s projects for their own campus or for foreign-study sites.

Past Honors Semesters have been in Washington, D.C., the Grand Canyon, New York City, El Paso, Appalachia, the Maine Coast, Iowa, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Greece, the Czech Republic, Spain, and the Southeast coast of the United States, on topics ranging from local culture to global concerns.

NCHC’s Place as Text Committee undertakes several related projects throughout the year. Primary among them are:

City as Text™
Sometimes called CAT, and broadened into Place as Text to encourage applications of this approach to active learning in various settings, City as Text™ refers to structured explorations of environments and ecosystems. Designed as on-going laboratories through which small teams investigate contested areas and issues in urban environments, or competing forces in natural ones, these exercises foster critical inquiry and integrative learning across disciplines. A mini-version of this approach is included at NCHC’s national conferences.

Site-specific educational projects in which students earn upper-division honors credit that applies to their graduation requirements at home, NCHC has offered 29 of these since l976, at both national and international locations. These are theme-based clusters of courses drawn from several disciplines. They include an extended field laboratory based on CAT designs, as well as term-long directed research projects on problems better analyzed at this specific site than elsewhere. The projects are presented in a public symposium at term’s end. All aspects of NCHC’s Honors Semesters are experiential, from living/learning arrangements in which students  function as a community to fieldwork immersion into local culture.

Faculty who want to acquire greater familiarity with design elements of CAT as a learning strategy, and who are considering applying these field explorations either to their own campus courses/programs or for use in international study, are invited to participate in a “short course” on CAT. Several Institutes are offered each year. Articles on the concept and uses of this methodology have appeared in JNCHC and other publications. Most recently two monographs have been published: Place as Text (2000) and Shatter the Glassy Stare (2008). For information on these and other printed materials please visit the Pub Board table at the Idea Exchange (Saturday) or the Pub Board book sales station.

For information on continuing projects (CAT, Semesters, Institutes), please contact Sara Quay at

more Calendar

3/14/2020 » 3/18/2020
Faculty Institute: Preservation, Progress, and Politics in Charleston, South Carolina

5/10/2020 » 5/17/2020
Partners in the Parks: Buffalo National River

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