In the Roger Seminar, First Year RWU Students React to the Past

In their first semester, students learn skills that will serve them throughout their four years at RWU through an interactive, game-based curriculum

Kindell Brown, Justin Wilder, and Julia Rubin
Students makes speech.

BRISTOL, R.I. – A fisherman with a giant sea turtle, an elderly gentleman with a cane, and a pastor walk into a church.

No, this isn’t a joke. It’s Associate Professor of History Charlotte Carrington-Farmer’s Roger Seminar, a required, interdisciplinary course that prepares first year students for the four years ahead. 

The characters above, though convincing with their props and extensive preparation, are participating in a Reacting to the Past game. Reacting to the Past is a curriculum that provides interactive learning about an array of important historical moments.

Students learned to emulate their characters' handwriting in order to recreate historically authentic documents for the game. 

Participants use packets of information and supplementary research about their characters to place themselves in these contexts. Though they are given their characters’ general philosophies, they must write their own speeches, debate in character, and even learn to write in their characters’ handwriting.

Carrington-Farmer's students are immersing themselves in the Trial of Anne Hutchinson. In 1637, Hutchinson was charged with controversial religious views in her Massachusetts church. The court had to decide whether or not to banish her from the community.

This fun and interactive experience not only teaches students about history, but it also prepares them for the academic rigor and peer collaboration that will be important during their time at RWU. 

“Public speaking, communication, negotiation, critical thinking, close reading of primary sources are just some of the skills they gain,” says Carrington-Farmer. “They have to meet with people outside of class, broker deals, and email people. It pushes all of the skills that the first year experience and Rogers Seminar are advocating and it really does that in a student centered way.”